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Teacher’s Toolkit

by Julie


Classroom activities

Listening to a text

The student with most answers wins. And suddenly they all stay alert, attentive and awake!  For more advanced level: while students are listening to a text you can ask them to think of at least 35 questions and write them in their notebooks. After you’re finished listening, ask your student/s to present their questions to the class or each pair can write their question on the board. If they write their questions on the board, another pair finds the correct answer to the question. (To avoid overlapping questions divide the text into sections with e.g. line numbers.)

 Draw a picture of what you hear / e.g. per paragraph.  Let your student operate the CDplayer for a change.  One student operates the CD, his/her pair asks the questions or difficult words instead of the teacher. Optional: a third student writes the answers on the board.  Students listen to the text with their books closed. The teacher asks the students to write all the words in the paragraph that begin with a certain letter / are adjectives / are verbs / positive or negative words.

  Students listen half of the text carefully. After listening they close their books. Hand out a copy of the text with certain words missing / show a transparency of the same


text. Ask students to fill in the missing words. Then ask the students to read the rest of the text. Leave out several words e.g. adjective + noun or headings / questions etc. Students should then exchange their sheets with another group who will check their answers with the help of the book.  New chapter. Ask a student to come in front of the class. Leave the stage; just show him/her how to operate the CD or computer. Let the student play the tape until s/he is ready to ask the others a question about the new text. But no more than one section at a time. Then the student or you will name the next “teacher”.

Reading a text  Ask the student to read the text as long as he or she likes. Then s/he can choose the next reader.  Ask the students to read the text line by line so that each student reads only one line at a time in the order they are sitting from front to end or vice versa. The text will flow, and everyone will pay attention!  Divide students in groups of four. Give each group a dice. Students roll the dice and read the number of sentences according to their dice number.  Ask the students read the text aloud in different styles per paragraph (all together). For instance you’ll first ask them to read the text merrily / angrily /

boringly / whispering / shouting / singing etc.  Ask each pair to formulate a True or False random statement based on the text. Ask one of the students to write the statement (either in Finnish or English) on the board. Then ask volunteers to go to the board and mark a statement (no more than one) either T or F. Check them together by asking someone to read a statement and judge whether the T or F is correct.  Ask students to work in pairs. One student reads a section of the text in English, another summarises the read part in Finnish. Then they take turns to continue. This can also be done in groups of four, where the rest of the group helps with the summary (difficult words etc.) if necessary.  After you’ve e.g. listened to a new chapter, you can pass around a transparency with a permanent marker so that each pair / student will write down the numbers of lines that s/he wishes will be translated or explained. Place the transparency on the OHP and ask volunteers to explain or translate the lines in question.

Vocabulary tasks

 Take a copy of the vocabulary list you’re working on – only this time wipe out all spelt worlds and leave the phonetics [pronunciation in square brackets]. Students work out the words used in the chapter.


 Ask students to choose 5 words in their vocabulary list. They should either explain them in English in their notebooks or find opposites / synonyms to their words. Then ask 5-7 students to come and write their explanations / opposites / synonyms on the board and other students will guess the correct words.  Ask your students to prepare a word test for your next lesson by choosing e.g. five words in Finnish and five in English. Ask them to put their names on the paper. During the next lesson you will hand out the word tests to different students. When they’ve finished doing the test – they’ll exchange their papers with another student who will then check the words with the help of their books. Let them count the score for you as well.

 Hand out slips of a transparency to each pair. Ask the students to choose a phrase / an expression / a name / a place etc. in the text e.g. “a sea change”. Ask them to write the expression on the transparency without the vowels / the consonants. “___ S ___ ___ C H ____ N G ____” Each pair will show their transparency to the

class with the OHP and the rest of the class will guess the vowels. The first pair to guess the expression / and appropriate translation / or figure out the appropriate question to the correct answer will get a point. The team with most points will win.

  Ask each student to mime a word in the vocabulary list in front of the class. You will do the first word yourself!  Form small groups of 2-4 students. Ask each group to search the text for different word classes. One group underlines all adjectives, another all nouns, another all verbs, another all prepositions, another all numerals etc. If the students have access to computers or dictionaries, they can find possible derivations to 5-10 of their words. The group with numerals could write the numbers in letters for a change. The group with prepositions could have a closer look of how the prepositions are used. Some groups could also try to find idioms, metaphors or linking words.  There’s a popular quiz on the radio that requires the contestants to give a wrong answer to a question. Try this at class! If the correct answer would be “in the morning,” the students would have to give a wrong answer like “in the evening”


– so it can’t be any answer which isn’t somehow related to the question. A real brain teaser!  Ask students to prepare a list of 34 words in the text with an odd one out. They can then either read them out aloud and others will guess which one is the odd ball. Or they can write them on a separate sheet of paper / in their notebook and exchange them with other students.  If you have access to computers, ask your students to create a crossword puzzle with one of the free programs (e.g. discovery learning) with words in your text. Print them out and let the students do them as a revision during the next lesson.  If you have access to computers or dictionaries, ask your students to choose three words they like most in the text: a word that sounds the nicest, looks most beautiful, and has a meaning that appeals to them. Then ask them to consult a dictionary to find idioms with their chosen words. Ask a few students to present their findings to the rest of the class (works best on the board). Ask the rest of the class to write these meaningful expressions in their notebooks.  Ask students to choose 3 words in the text. Ask them to define them 1) what does it look like? 2) what does it taste/sound like? 3) what is it made of? Others will guess their words.

read the second half of the words out loud and you repeat after them!  Before a new chapter with a new topic ask all of your students / volunteers to come to the board and write down a word in English related to your topic = brainstorming.  Ask your students to draw two columns in their notebooks; one with a plus and the other with a minus. Ask students to gather 1015 positive words under + and 1015 words under -. Ask students to discuss their choices with their partners.

Phrase Hunts  Instead of using a transparency of the basic phrase hunt, take a photo copy and cut each phrase apart from the sheet. Divide the numbered phrases around the class to each pair and ask students with phrase number 1 to begin. One reads the phrase, another finds the equivalent in the text and states the appropriate line numbers to the class.  Take a colourful photocopy of the phrase hunt and ask students to glue the sheet into their notebooks. They should then write the correct phrases underneath instead of underlining.

 Go through the vocabulary list of your next chapter by reading the first half of the words yourself. Ask your students to repeat the words after you. Then ask the students to


 Pass a transparency with a permanent marker around the class. Ask each pair to write down a difficult phrase / sentence on the transparency as you go through the text. Go through the tricky parts with the help of your students after you’ve listened / read the text.

examples in their grammar books). Give them about 15-20 minutes to do this. Then ask each pair to present their transparency to the class and do the teaching. Do this in random order so they cannot anticipate which team will be next.  If you have to cover e.g. linking words/prepositions in your grammar lesson, form a circle of the students’ desks. Divide the linking words so that each student gets their own word or preposition to cover. Ask them to study the word carefully and memorise the new grammar item with a few examples. Then ask the students to close their grammar books and teach the others what they’ve just learned.


 Learn grammar the Harvard style: tell the students the topic of your next grammar lesson e.g. indirect speech. Ask your students to prepare the topic at home and write down notes in their

 Ask your students to find the examples of a certain rules of grammar in the chapter you are reading. For example if you’ve just covered relative pronouns, ask your students to find all relative pronouns in the text. You could form groups of 2-4 students and ask each group to cover a certain section / paragraph of the text. Let them present their findings in front of the class “and do the teaching”.  If you have to cover e.g. a new tense in class, hand out transparencies and permanent markers to each pair. Ask your students to prepare a transparency on the topic with the rules and their own examples (not to copy the

notebooks with examples. At the beginning of the lesson ask students to come to the board one


at a time to write down the rules of ‘indirect speech’. Others can copy the rules in their notebooks if they like (not compulsory). You can also hand out transparencies and permanent markers or students can prepare their own paper / power point presentation with the help of a computer, which is then showed and taught by the students themselves to the rest of the class.

 If there are some great pictures attached to a chapter, ask your students to write e.g. newspaper heading or captions to the pictures.

Seating charts  Write on the board: A-C M-O

 Home essays: ask five to six students in the class to think of an essay title related to the topics you’ve covered recently. Ask them to come and write their suggestions on the board. Give your email address to your students and ask them to send their short essays to you. If you get a really good essay to read, it’s easy to print out for others to study as an example, or if you have their email addresses, send the best essays to them via email.



Ask your students to go and write down their mother’s maiden names on the board or e.g. the students’ second names under the appropriate letters. Then pair the students e.g. Aaltonen & Berglund together / Petrintytär & Juusonpoika together. You can also do the same with birthdays (under months). Funnily enough, people born close to each other seem to get along quite well!

Writing  If you’ve just read an interesting chapter, ask your students to write a short story of what happened to the people in the text five/ten/twenty years later.


Ask your students to place a personal item in a bag. Divide the objects around the class on different desks and ask your students to find their personal item and take their seat.


Roll call  Begin from the end of the list  Check the names while students are working independently

Checking homework  Always alter the ways homework is checked. If possible, vary the moment you decide to check the homework – does it a l w a y s have to be at the beginning of the class? (compare with roll call)  Students love to write on the board. Take advantage of this fact, since 75 minutes is a pretty long time for students to sit put.

 Let your students be the teacher and check the answers for you (you can stand at the back of the class). One student can ask the questions and choose the person

to answer, another can write the answers on the board / transparency / computer screen.  Let students check the answers with the student sitting closest to them.  Ask students to consult their answers with the person sitting b e h i n d them.  If you’re short of time, hand out the correct answers to your students in the form of a compact answer sheet.  When students are working independently, provide them with a number of KEY-books for the lesson, so that they can check their answers when ready.  Ask a student to answer a question and let him/her choose the next person to do the next sentence / exercise / task / assignment. Make sure that the same person can only be chosen once – a great way for people to get to know their fellow students’ names.  Ask students randomly making sure that everybody gets a shot. The goal is that you get a contact with each and every student at least once during the lesson. Provide students who are lost with clues. If nothing else helps, give them the first letter of the word or ask him/her to consult the vocabulary or give the exact line number where the answer can be found. Make sure that neither you nor the student loses her/his face in the “milking machine” process. You need to know when to back off, but students like to know that you are interested in their learning


and you do not give up on them too easily.

Lesson plans

in your class. Ask students to translate their section into Finnish in a certain time. Then ask the students to first read the translated text in English to the class and the other member of the team reads the translation in Finnish. Students will pay attention!

 Hand out a blank sheet of paper. Ask your students to prepare a lesson plan for your next chapter including any ideas they might have about grammar, vocabulary, exercises etc. Prepare your lesson according to the best lesson plan!

Processing a text  Divide the chapter in sections according to the number of pairs or teams in your class. The idea is that students will cover a short section / issue in the chapter by preparing a poster of it. It doesn’t matter if two different pairs do the same part / section of a text as another team – no poster is alike! If students have access to a computer, they can find more information about the topic in the chapter and add it to their posters. If you have a colour printer, it would be nice if students could print out colourful pictures covering their topic to be added to their poster. The poster can include pictures, difficult words, facts or figures etc. Give students 5-10 minutes to hang their posters on the classroom walls.

 Ask your students to prepare a short film / a documentary / a play / a publication ( on the topic of your chapter. If you don’t have the necessary equipment at school, it is very likely that some of your students have access to cameras, computers etc. and would like to cover the text in another format than traditional classroom work. Publish the outcome in your school’s web pages.

 Divide the chapter / text into as many sections that you have pairs 8

When you are covering a new chapter, ask your students to write down a question based on the text on a separate piece of paper. Collect the questions and let students one by one come to the front of the class to pull a question from a bag. S/he’ll then choose the student to answer the question written on the slip. Variation: ask students to write more personal questions related to the topic, which their fellow students can answer.  Ask your students to write a summary of the text in their notebooks.  Ask your students to summarise the text to their partner in English with 5-10 sentences taking turns and writing down their partner’s sentences only.  Ask your students to send you a song or a poem etc. related to the topic / chapter that you’ve covered to your email. Listen to the song during your next lesson and prepare the lyrics e.g. by leaving blank slots to mark the missing words.

 If there are several interesting characters named in the chapter, ask your students to invent their profiles. Hand out cards that they can write the details on. If you have some old magazines, students could cut out interesting faces to complete their identity cards. These cards can be used for blind dating exercises or to invent a diary / journal.


Teacher's toolkit  
Teacher's toolkit  

classroom activities language teaching and learning