Last minute lessons; Always have a game plan | TEFL Jobs London

Last minute lessons; Always have a game plan

by Donna Hutchinson
Newly-qualified TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Sometimes, it happens. I have 20 minutes or so at the end of the lesson and it needs filling. Sometimes students work quicker than I’d anticipated or, there just isn’t enough material. In any case, it doesn’t seem worth it to start the next module or unit and there’s only so much the brain can take in at once. In these situations I have go-to games.

There is the classic, Hangman. Usually I’ll ask students to use new vocab we have learnt during the week or pick a topic like personality traits, depending on the level. And generally, most games can be adapted to any level which is very useful. I personally prefer team games as I think it’s a good way to mix up a class and encourage team interaction.

The first is a spelling game. Put the students into teams and [quickly] prepare a list of words. You must say a word and the team who thinks they know the answer must put up their hand. The twist is that it is not just one team member who spells out the word, the word must be spelled out by the whole team, letter by letter. This way the team must work together to first decide how the word is spelt and then coordinate to spell it out. If one team member gets a letter wrong, the word must be passed over to the other team. This is also good for lower levels to practice the alphabet.

The second requires teams to come up to the whiteboard so is really good to get students moving. Draw a table of 6 rows and 3 columns on the white board for 3 teams.

Teams line up in front of their table with a pen per team. You must then choose a topic, such as a set of vocabulary or verbs in the past simple etc. You must also choose a starting letter. If the topic is verbs in the infinitive and the starting letter is M, the first word could be ‘meet’ and this must be written in the bottom cell. The next word must begin with the last letter of the previous word so in this case, T, so ‘try’ and the next could be ‘yearn’, etc. Each team is racing against each other and each team member must take a turn to write so the pen must be passed back to the next player after each word. However, a team can only win if all the words are correct regardless of whether they finish first.  This is one of my favourite games and I’ve found it to be successful for all levels.

The last game I suggest is a drilling game to test students’ knowledge of irregular verbs in the infinitive, past simple and past participle. This requires a list of the irregular verbs (easier than going from memory!). Students are in teams, you call out a verb and they must recite all three forms of it. If it is incorrect, it must go to the other team. Depending on level, this can be modified to be like the spelling game in that not just one person should say the answer.

Games are a great way to make a class more lively, to encourage students to interact with each other and as is the premise this week, fill up some time. Always keep a few tricks in your pocket!


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