5 Ideas for Freshening Up Your Lessons

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One of the things that can negatively affect the performance of English teachers over the long term is staleness. After a while in the job it is easy to get caught up in familiar routines, teaching the same types of lessons in the same way, and feeling that you lack inspiration in the classroom.

Here are some things I would suggest to help freshen up your teaching.

1) Tweak your classroom routines, starting with warm-ups. Try a game, a role play, charades or a physical activity to get the class moving. Engage the students (and yourself) in a different way immediately. Students will enjoy the change, you will feel better, and the positive start will provide a lift going into the lesson proper.

2) Make new materials. If you have a set textbook, consider writing up some supplementary material. Mini-conversations, vocabulary lists, key-sentence tables, pictures and character cards can all add something different to a lesson. For kids classes, make additional vocabulary cards that will appeal to their age and interests and use these in games and activities.

3) For the materials you already have, consider adjusting your approach. Are your students too used to listening-for-information tasks, for example? If so, try handing out a quiz paper on the material instead, putting your students into pairs or threes and having them find the answers together.

If your grammar drills are becoming repetitive, use gestures, signs, drawings or facial expressions as cues. Change things around and have the students compose the drills. If you can play an instrument, put the drills to music and have students improvise lyrics to a simple tune and rhythm.

If you look closely at what you do, there will be plenty of opportunities for minor changes to be made right throughout the lesson.

4) If you feel that you could do with some external input it is always good to observe another teacher. Sit down, watch what they do and think about how you could incorporate the ideas you see into your own lessons. Even if you decide not to use any of the ideas directly, it will help to get you thinking again about your own approach.

5) Use humor. With children, be prepared to be a bit of a clown. With adults, drop some jokes into the lessons, make the odd play on words or use some colorful idioms (be careful here!). If your students think you could do something amusing at any time they will be more interested and more attentive, and this gives any teacher and any class a welcome boost.

So there we are. Although it is not by any means an exhaustive selection, these five simple ideas have helped at times to change my approach, challenge my students and reinvigorate my lessons. Hopefully they can do the same for you. As an aside, it is also worth bearing in mind that teachers who take it upon themselves to keep their lessons fresh and interesting will tend to be more appealing to employers as well.

Thank you for reading, and feel free to leave a comment with your own ideas on this topic below.

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Runs a school, teaches, blogs.
  • Kim Pennebaker says:

    Excellent recommendations. Having taught in Japan for a number of years, I have employed each of the aforementioned styles of instruction and found them worthy. Teaching can become stale otherwise. Thank you!

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