So unfortunately I didn’t write all week because I had my first bout of traveler’s sickness/food poisoning. I typically have an iron stomach – both in the U.S. and when I travel. I have tried street food in Thailand and Nicaragua, among other places and never got sick. I guess it was bound to happen one of these days! Anyway, I’m feeling like myself again and thinking about my students and their lesson plans for the week.
My awesome mom sent me a recent package filled with teaching goodies. She’s a kindergarten teacher and has been great to bounce ideas off of. While my first job through high school and college was teaching at a preschool, my professional background is in volunteer management. So I’ve been seeking out the advice and tips of anyone willing to offer it about teaching, since it is certainly not my expertise. When I first came to Mexico City my volunteer position was to edit the grants into English for a nonprofit here called Casa Alianza. When I found some extra time on my hands though, I asked what else was needed. They let me know the girls could really benefit from English classes so I jumped in.
So in case you found your way on this site because you are looking for great lesson ideas for English as a Second Language students, here are some of my first lesson topics that I came up with as I got started:
Describing Favorites – First, go over vocabulary words about hobbies and interest (i.e. book, movie, music). Then have the students take turns asking “What is your favorite _______? and answering with “my favorite _______ is _______.” by filling in the new words they just learned. This lessons helps them learn new vocabulary and gives them practice with basic conversation. You can also have them write out their sentences later if you want them to practice writing in English.
Ordering Food/Shopping for Clothes – Any practical conversation that they can learn and use right away in a store or café is useful, as well as a fun way to get the students to interact with each other. My students happen to be 12 to 16 year old girls so I figured lessons on shopping couldn’t disappoint. First we went over greetings, goodbyes, and other basic questions and answers that arise in these locations. Then I created scenarios – I had a menu ready for the café scene and the students took turns as waitress and guests. When shopping for clothing, they had to choose an item they were looking for first and then ask corresponding questions about size, color, price etc. Not all of my students are ready for conversation of this level, but I’m satisfied even if they listen and repeat as we go over the new phrases and they write down the responses on their worksheets. One thing that I am still learning how to manage as a new teacher is lessons that work for students at different stages!
Games – I like to end each class with some type of English game. I usually pack a couple to take with me each time and then have the girls choose which one they want to play. They break up into smaller groups after choosing. I have created two decks of memory cards using blank business cards. The girls need to match the word or phrase in English to the corresponding picture of that word. They can either play this is as memory or as go fish. Go Fish is preferred because it requires more English conversation. I also brought my scrabble board and letters and they have played scrabble to get used to spelling words. I make copies of English word searches (my mom sent two books from the states). After three or four sessions where we learned new vocabulary, I had them make their own bingo boards of the new words/pictures. I only call out the words in English and the girls answer back with the translation. This way, all levels of students can play because even if they don’t remember the word in English, they’ll hear it from the girls who do remember. I have also bought a few small gifts for the bingo winners (nail polish, notepads, candy) so this tends to be their favorite game.
In addition to my ideas above, I also found this link extremely helpful from a nonprofit in Oaxaca that offers English classes. My friend, Dan Munns, helped put this list of ideas together and it’s a great resource for anyone looking to be creative with their teaching: English Activities