Do you ever take your class out?
It’s not always easy or even possible, but if you can manage it then it’s a great experience for both the students and yourself.
1. A change is as good as a break – a trip out is a literal breath of fresh air.
2. Real communication -whether it’s organising the trip in class or actually on the day, not to mention the write-up afterwards.
3. It’s CLIL in action – a chance to see and learn something new in English.
4. It’s good for your CPD – not to mention your portfolio/C.V, whether it’s just the occasional day out or a week long trip somewhere.
Obviously your teaching situation will influence how easy this is, if you’re in the middle of the UK, it’s pretty easy but you may feel there’s no point, after all, they are speaking English out of the classroom everyday anyway. This is the chance to take them somewhere unexpected, a group of teens might not have already visited the local castle, you might get permission to visit a local factory, can you watch a local team train? Do something different with them, it will get them using new language, and new brain cells too! In one adult class, our students took us to visit their companies or local clubs, we saw a paper-making factory, attended a boules tournament and spent a morning at a dog-training club.
Even if you are in a non-speaking country you can do things locally. Many tourist attractions have English-speaking guides, I once took a group to the nearby C.E.R.N. and saw the large hadron collider, fascinating for all of us.
Some attractions have audio-guides, not only in English, but also in easy English, we used these on a recent school trip and they were very effective for lower level learners.
If none of these options are available, let the students be the guides. Give, or let them choose some local monument, building, area and prepare their own presentation, which they can give in situ. Getting them to prepare a presentation on something in a local museum has much more relevence if you can all go and see it afterwards, and if, like me, you teach in a secondary school, then you be ticking all the pluridiscipline boxes on the page! – In fact why not ask your colleague to join in?
Even a school tour gets them out of their chairs, get them to guide their English-speaking “guests” around the school, good practice for if they have to do it for real one day.
Of course if you are feeling very big and clever you could organise a longer trip, further away. Why not make a year project of it? Discuss and undertake some money raising activities, choose and organise where to go, etc. Students can do all of these activities and even the most unmotivated class will appreciate being given a democratic choice and feel implicated in this trip. I was amazed at how some of my laziest pupils leapt at the chance of a day’s car washing to raise money, and before you worry you’ll have even more work to do, let me reassure you – I stayed in bed that morning! The more work you delegate to the students, the happier they will be and the more they will learn.
Send me a postcard!