A lesson for all ages and all levels, just adapt to suit your students’ ability. First, show the photos and try to elicit what the buildings are for, or their original function.
For Speaking Level 3 or IELTS-standard students, they can explain their reasons and use target language, adjectives, adverbs and LFW (low-frequency words). Furthermore, it shows students a different aspect of London (it’s not just Big Ben, London Eye and Tower Bridge).
Now, without further ado, the photos:
Was built 1947 – 1963 to be used as a power station (designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who also designed Battersea Power Station and the iconic red phone boxes).
Gallery opened in 2000 by the Queen
Shows British and international art
One of the largest museums in the world
in 2018, there were 5.8 million visitors
Was built 1599, burnt down 1613.
Rebuilt and opened in 1997
Has plays by Shakespeare, as well as modern plays.
Has 857 seats and 700 standing spaces. People who stand are known as ‘groundlings.’
“To be or not to be,” is from Hamlet.
Was built in the 1920s
Only big enough for two people
Has a telephone inside
Made from an old lamppost
Now used for storing brooms
Completed in 1986
Architect was Richard Rogers
Lloyds are a world famous insurance company.
The lifts are on the outside to make more space inside.
It is 95.1 m tall or 312 ft.
New Zealand House
The building was opened by the Queen in 1963
It is the only tall building in the area.
The House has 18 floors.
However … there is something very special for Vietnamese … can you see the blue circle ?
There used to be the Carlton Hotel here, but is was destroyed in World War II
Ho Chi Minh worked in the kitchen at the hotel
Stick fact sheets around the classroom. Students, in groups, have to collect information about basic facts such as when the building was opened, and an interesting fact, then present to the class.
Adult Speaking Classes
Elicit uses of bulidings, then ask them if there are any similar buildings in their city. What interesting buildings would they show tourists ? A student has to describe one of the buildings and the other have to guess which one.
Students are assigned a building and they have to make a presentation of up to two-minutes in length (to practise for the speaking test). They may be allowed to use the internet for additional information but they are NOT allowed to merely read verbatim from Wikipedia !
As this is an IELTS exercise, we are looking for;
Good, strong introduction
Creative use of adverbs + adjectives
Anecdote or a personal review, giving reasons for their thoughts
I’ve spent so much time reading books about classroom activities, looking at websites and blogs only to reject the vast majority as not being suitable for my level of students. Here are a couple of games that have been successful over the years, in different centres and with different ages, though I usually employ them with students aged between 6 and 10. Adapt them as you wish, and have fun.
This is based on the old paper and pencil game (later upgraded for the electronic and computer age).
Board a grid as above (add more cells as required). Put the class into teams.
[I let them choose their own names, and if a student says, ‘Errrrrr,” then that’s the name I give them … additionally, this always gets a laugh]
Ask the teams questions based on previous lessons, general knowledge, whatever suits your class. You could either elicit an answer from the team as a whole, or individual members.
If the student answers correctly, they are allowed to choose a cell, example “C3.” On a separate sheet, have the same grid with scores assigned to each square. In the example that follows, C3 would score 25 points.
The following questions were used to review past tense grammar, as well as forming collocations:
Put the sentences into the past tense (simple past). Say complete sentence.
1 Last week we learn about technology
2 I buy a new iPhone last night.
3 Michael Jackson write many good songs.
4 Oh, no … I do not do my homework !
5 Have they decide what printer to buy ?
6 He see all the ‘Avengers’ films in one day !
7 It’s Friday ! I think today was Wednesday !
8 On holiday, I walk along the beach.
9 My grandmother send me an email.
10 Have you play the new video game ?
Complete the collocation
11 (go) to the cinema [I _______ to the cinema]
12 (play) guitar
13 (take) a photo
14 (chat / go) online
15 (do) voluntary work
16 (make) a decision
Snakes and ladders
Another activity based on a classic game. I first used this in a very energetic class of 9 – 11 year olds and, thanks to the size of the room, I was able to draw a grid on the floor and use students as ‘counters’, to move around the ‘board’.
If that isn’t possible, just board a grid like so:
GO FORWARD 2
GO BACK 1
GO FORWARD 1
HA HA BACK TO START
GO BACK 3
All you need is a die or dice and different colour board markers. As before, arrange the class in teams, then ask each team a question. The student who answers then throws the die (preferably NOT at the teacher but one thing at a time), and I chart their progress on the board. You can decide whether or not the students need an exact score to land on Finish or not … play it by ear.
[ ‘dice’ is generally accepted for both singular and plural. For English-language learners it’s probably better to use ‘dice’.]
Today, we shall learn the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. This story is over 3 000 old, and comes from the country of Greece. Here is the flag of Greece:
Greece is in Europe. It is a very hot country, and has many stories from history. The capital city is Athens.
Have you ever seen something like this before ?
This is the Minotaur, half man, half bull. He was extremely strong, extremely angry and very, very scary. He lived near Greece, on the island of Crete:
The Minotaur lived underground in a big maze called the labyrinth. Every year, the King of Athens had to send 14 children for the Minotaur to eat. This is a labyrinth, a huge maze. It is very easy to get lost inside a labyrinth.
The king had a son called Theseus. He was a hero. He decided to go and kill the Minotaur.
The King of Crete had a daughter called Ariadne. When she saw Theseus, she decided to help him. She gave Theseus a big ball of string. He tied it to the door of the labyrinth, then used it so he wouldn’t get lost:
Theseus found the Minotaur.
They had a long fight because both Theseus and the Minotaur were very strong. Finally, Theseus won and killed the Minotaur.
Then he returned to Athens with Ariadne. The people were so happy, and Theseus became a hero in Greece.
I actually prepared this for my top students in a Young Learners’ Level 3 (ages from 9 – 11) class; university-level semiotics. While most of the class just do the assigned work – no more, no less – others make no effort at all and are unable or unwilling to answer a question to which I have just given the answer. Then we have the top cats … I’m lucky to have two exceptional students in my class as well as two others who, with some effort, could also reach those Olympian heights.
First class with a new post-KG (Kindergarten) class. 21 students and a new, young TA. There was going to be a lot of class management and, as a teacher-friend formerly said, ‘crowd control’.
I used some illustrations to show basic class rules and the procedure (one black mark for breaking the rules, two black marks and the name is in the book) if they transgress.
Almost immediately, three boys were on the board; shouting and screaming (usual behaviour for a young class).
In this type of class, we usually introduce some new vocabulary and grammar, then drill it for pronunciation and meaning. The students will practice speaking, listening and more speaking … ideally.
The challenge here is to make warm up games fun and get everyone involved. At least the room was quite large, so I was able to hide some flash cards and ask some students to run and find them. These would be words learnt from a previous lesson(s) so the game also serves as a review. At this age, the students like active games, it gets them excited and prevents boredom from sitting in chairs for long periods.
Naturally, not all students can be involved at the same time, especially in running games, so a good plan is to break the class down into smaller groups (maybe four or five students per group). One member from each group can do an activity while the others will, hopefully, encourage them. I name the groups after English football clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs. Manchester United are having more success in my classroom than in the Premier League.
However, getting the students to speak in English was a bit of a problem. Most of them didn’t seem to understand my instructions, or didn’t want to speak. I’ll need to get the TA involved more, translating and giving instructions in Vietnamese.
Not a great success but realistic for a first lesson. I spent some time one-to-one with the students, checking their work and letting them speak to me, repeating what they had learnt.
In such a large group, there will be mixed abilities, motivation and energy. It’s a good idea to have some work sheets prepared for fast finishers. These include new vocabulary and word searches; they appear as games, but also have pedagogic value, especially if the students work together and ask each other questions in English.
At the end of the lesson, the students should have learnt new vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation … and how I expect them to behave in class. It can be a slow process, but it works.