Incorporating fun into the English classroom

Incorporating fun into the English classroom

Teaching English as a second language can become a daunting experience for both the teacher and the learner if it is not presented in an enthusiastic fashion.

From experience everybody will know there is nothing worse than to having to sit through a never ending boring and dry lesson or speech, and on the same note, even if the presentation is done with humor and enthusiasm, if the lesson is not chosen within the reference framework of the audience, they will battle to stay attentive.

What every teacher probably wants is the magic words to help create the joy of learning in all our learners. Although there is no known abracadabra spell for this, we can achieve it, and take our minds off of our own classroom stresses by creating interesting and fun lessons!

The reality of teaching English as a foreign language is that the learners only understand half (if that much) of what you are saying anyway. An excellent way of sustaining their interest is to involve them in the lesson actively. Activities that are planned within context of the lesson fun or otherwise, will keep the class involved in the lesson and the end result invariably is that the essence of the lesson is remembered just so much easier.

It stands to reason then that preparation is the key. Get to know your audience. If you do not see them on a regular basis, talk to somebody who does. Prepare the lesson with that in mind, and within a context that is fitting to their level and standard, and go at it with enthusiasm. I have seen plenty a bad day in class myself and came to realise that screaming one?s head off just doesn?t do the trick. It is just so much more effective to hold your cool and in a playful way get them to do what you wanted in the first place!

So then, to the lesson. Go in with a fun warmer that is applicable to the lesson. A physical and fun activity will assist in drawing the learner?s attention to the lesson.

As an example, we can assume that the lesson topic for the day is ?Planets?. The teacher can play a racing game with the learners. Have all of the learners sit in their seats and wait for a command from the teacher. The teacher shouts out the name of a shape or color and the learners all have to race to touch something in the classroom of that shape or color. The first student to have touched an applicable item, can be rewarded by awarding a point to his/her name etc.

By using some sort of fun activity as a warmer, the teacher raises the awareness of ?Fun? in the lesson and will thereby gain the attention of the learners. It is however important to make sure that the warmer is applicable to the lesson, that way you focus the attention of the learners on the context of the lesson, right from the start. Using the above mentioned warmer in this specific lesson, will for instance, reinforce that the planets are in a specific shape and color.

Presentation and production stages should be interesting and need not be long at all. An effective and very short presentation stage, containing all of the required target language and vocabulary is in essence much more effective than a boring and longwinded lesson. During production, go around, help them with enthusiasm. You will find that learners strive to please the teacher and they will work hard for you.

For the Practice part of the lesson, it is good to have some sort of fun activity e.g. the ?Fruit Salad Game?. Once again, assuming the lesson topic for the day is "Planets" and you Target Language is: "Pluto, Venus, Jupiter, Mars", you can adjust the game to suit the Target Language for the day.

Placing the learners in a horse-shoe seating arrangement, make sure that there is one less chair than there are learners. Now assign each student a word from the Target Language.
The teacher shouts out one word from the Target Language, and all the learners who were assigned that word, have to get up and change seats as quick as possible.

There will be one student left standing, whom is now to shout out another name from the Target Language, and those learners have to change seats again. Learners can also shout out more than one word at a time. And so the game will go on, with the learners using the Target Language by themselves, without even realizing, whilst having a lot of fun, and in the end looking forward to the next lesson?? ABRACADABRA!