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But I...: 4 Activities
for Teaching Excuses
Just Love Mondays!
3 Situational Games to
Teach EFL/ESL Sarcasm
and Place your Bets:
7 Casino Breaks to Teach
Gambling References
in English

EDUCATION: Crosscultural Education - How
It Helps ESL Students
16 FEELINGS: How do you
feel? Prepare your ESL
students for the worst
with these easy activities
17 DISASTERS: Are they
ready for the worst?
5 Great ESL tips on
preparing your students
for disasters


it in Check: Teaching
the 3 Branches
of the US Government


COLOR: Are You Feeling
Blue? 3 Ways to Use
Color to Teach Other
Concepts in English


MOVIES: 7 Great
American Movies
to Reinforce Vocabulary

Have a Deal? Help
Your ESL Student
Negotiate in English


The Good and the Bad:
5 Strategies for Teaching
Personality Traits

5 nifty tips on how to help
your ESL student handle
awkward situations

Weighing in at the Gym:
How to Teach Weights
and Measurements
a Problem with That:
Teaching 7 Situations
When Complaining
Means Something Else
Make it Ring a Bell:
How to Explain
8 Common American
Historical Idioms
14 CALENDAR: Give it
a Year: 7 Strategies
for Teaching
about the Calendar

18 DIRECTIONS: Directions:
3 Outdoor Activities for
Three Types of Directions
19 SHOPPING: Shop Till
You Drop. 6 Great
Activities to Help
Your ESL Students Shop

Moving Right Along:
4 Fresh Classroom
Activities for Teaching
You Can Bank on it:
5 Strategies to Teach
the How-To’s of Banking
24-25 PETS: Roll Over,
Rover: 5 Easy Ways
to Teach about Pets
Somebody Call 911:
Valuable Activities
for Teaching
about Emergencies
Work: 5 Basic Activities
to Teach
about Occupations

28 LAUNDRY: Clean It Up:
5 Activities for Teaching
about Laundry
29-30 FAMILY: It’s All
Relative: 10 Ways
to Teach about Family
31 COOKING: 10 Baste and
Batter Basics: Translating
American Cooking Terms
for EFL Learners
32-33 FOOD: Hot Dog-itty
Dog! 12 Funky English
Food Words and
How to Teach Them
34 FOOD: A Totally
Yummy ESL Lesson
Your Students Will Just
Gobble Up
35 CHORES: Teaching
Chores is not a Bore:
6 Activities
to Keep their Attention
DANGERS: Warning:
5 Activities to Teach
about Household
38 SEASONS: The Most
Wonderful Times
of the Year: Teaching
about the 4 Seasons
39 INTERNET: Get in Line to
Get Online: 5 Activities
to Make Learning about
the Internet Fun
That’ll Fix’em:
5 Strategies to Teach
about Tools and Repairs
41-42 MOVIES: Lights,
Camera, Action:
10 Activities to Teach
about Going
to the Movies
SKILLS: I Brought
the Beer! Using a Class
Party to Teach 10 Social
Conversation Skills

But I...:
4 Activities for Teaching Excuses
Given the difficulty of pinning down students who arrive late to class, don’t finish their homework, or commit any of the
other transgressions that teachers must
address on a daily basis, it seems almost counter-intuitive to teach them how
to effectively make excuses.
Why make our jobs any more difficult?
On the other hand, giving a reason for
not being able to complete a task or having missed a deadline is certainly an important life skill. The first step to teaching
excuses is to select one or more forms.
Perhaps because I am Canadian, I am
partial to the “I’m sorry, but ...” approach.
Other forms include: “I wish I could, but
...” “I can’t because ...” “I couldn’t because ...” and so on. Many teachers may
be restricted to the form that is in their
assigned textbook. I have had several
classes struggle with ensuring that the
excuse matches what has been asked
or missed. This is especially true when
giving excuses for something that will
happen in the future (eg. when someone
asks for a favour). However, once you
have gone through the process of presenting the language and explaining the
need for the excuse to match the situation, it’s time to practice using it. Here
are four activities to get those creative
(and sometimes competitive) juices
flowing in the kids.




This takes a bit of preparation on
the part of the teacher. Create a list of ten
to fifteen different situations that would
require excuses. Try to make them relevant to the students’ lives (ie. late coming to class, didn’t finish the homework,
etc.). Then create a matching number
of excuses. Ideally, these excuses will
work for only one of the situations. Creating such clear distinctions means that
the excuses must be specific and may
need to include information that ties it
to a single situation. For example, if the
situation is about why you didn’t come
to a Saturday morning class, the excuse
could be that the student was visiting
their grandparents that weekend. In this
way the excuse does not work for why

are you late to class.
Once you have all of the situations and
excuses, create laminated cards from
the excuses. The teacher will need to
either memorize the situations or have a
list of situations with them in class. If you
have twelve excuses, then each card set
will have twelve cards in it. You will need
one card set for every group of three or
four students in your classes. Have each
group of students sit facing one another around a table. They spread out the
cards face up on the table so that there
is some space between each card. The
students then put both hands on their
heads. The teacher calls out a situation
(no students can move until the teacher
is finished speaking) and then the first
student to slap the appropriate excuse
gets to keep that card. They then place
their hands on their heads and wait for
the next situation. Whichever student
has the most cards at the end wins.



This game works best for excuses
about things that will happen in the future
(ie. when someone asks for a favour).
Create a set of playing cards based on
a variety of requests for a favour. In this
case it is best to have far more questions
than excuses in a set. For each excuse
there should be several different questions that would work. Likewise, create
some excuses that work for almost any
request for a favour and some that work
only for certain requests (ie. I’m sorry,
I can’t. I’m busy. vs. I’m sorry, I can’t. I
have school on Friday.)
Divide the class into groups of three
or four. Each group will get one set of
cards. The teacher will ask for a favour.
The first group to hold up an excuse that
fits the situation can lay that card aside.
When one group has used all of their
cards they are the winners.



As a final practice activity, have
the students pay an exit fee. The teacher must create a card set of situations.
There needs to be as many cards as
there are students. Not all need to be
unique, some can be duplicates. At the
end of class set aside enough time for
all students to give an excuse. Have the

students line up to leave and the teacher wait near the door. As each student
comes up to the door they must pay an
‘exit fee’ of one excuse. A card is drawn
from the stack and the situation presented to the student. They must provide
a fitting excuse for the situation before
they may leave. Teachers may want to
consider banning blanket excuses such
as ‘I am busy’ etc.



This works best with classes that
are a little more outgoing. Create a set
of large cards, so the words can be read
from all over the room. These should
be a mixture of adjectives and random
other words such as ‘space’, ‘monster’,
animal names, and various other nouns.
Either in advance or on the fly, the teacher makes up a series of situations requiring excuses. Put all the cards up on the
board and divide the class into groups.
From here there are several ways to
proceed. The teacher can give each
group a number and then roll a dice to
determine which group will go first. Alternatively, groups can simply volunteer.
Regardless of how order is determined,
the teacher reads a situation and then
gives groups a minute to talk it over.
They must make an excuse using two
or three (teacher’s choice depending on
class level) of the cards (ie. I couldn’t
clean my room because the vacuum
turned into a huge purple monster!). The
most creative excuses earn points for
the group. Once a card has been used
it is removed from the board. To make
it clear what is expected, the teacher
needs to give several different examples
of creative excuses and encourage students to make crazy word associations
for added points.

Often, the latter are by far the more interesting. While students often become
comfortable using single, blanket excuses (I am busy) the above activities allow
them to practice a wide variety. Ideally,
these activities are also enjoyable for
the class and get the students speaking
English in a more relaxed atmosphere.


But I Just Love Mondays! 3 Situational Games to Teach Sarcasm
While some teachers might argue you
cannot teach a complex “humor” tool
like sarcasm, this one argues that you
can at least try. Why? Because it will
be like no other class your students
have had before, and you will all be
laughing at the end! Three games
to mix up your normal conversation
class integrating sarcasm follow.




Many times, sarcasm is portrayed in
a tone of voice. The tone can be an
accent to the sarcasm or it can be the
sarcasm itself. Tone is a very important conversation skill that we often
neglect in our conversation courses. To respond properly to a native
speaker, an EFL learner has to pay attention. Give a list of 5-10 comments
that could be sarcastic or sincere, and
change their meaning with your tone.
Have your students work in pairs to
replicate your tone, and have them
practice responding to each other in
turns based on their tone. Examples

I just love Mondays, especially
after a big football game when
I only got 3 hours of sleep.
Children are such a delight
when they spill coffee on your
new $1,000 laptop.

These sarcastic lemon drops do not
need a tone change, and hence can
be confusing and difficult to read.
Teach that when a student suspects
a statement is untrue, he should consider sarcastic intent before branding
the native speaker a liar. Tell students
to visualize the situation and how one
would really feel – because this type
of sarcasm evokes imagery. The first
comment makes one feel tired and
possibly hung-over and thinking that
they do not actually like Mondays,
hence it is sarcastic. The second
comment makes one annoyed at the
child as opposed to feeling delighted.
Focus on looking for that contrasting
imagery! Create a list of 10-20 sarcastic comments and have them pick
out the contrasting emotions/feelings



I just love your outfit today. Are
those blue sneakers?

I can’t wait for my workout today at the gym!

Sarcasm often relies on puns,
and puns are very fun to teach, especially to advanced learners! First
explain what puns are and how they
are used in sarcasm by deconstructing two or three statements. Students
should pick out the play on words and
then explain how it is sarcastic. For

Eating healthy just makes me
feel so good. I really don’t miss

Sure, she was attractive... she
was pretty ugly.

I want to beat the clock because I am tired, not because
I am in a rush.



Sarcasm can seem like lies or contradictory language to a non native
speaker, and hence it is important
to point out when it is intended to be


funny or to make another point as opposed to being “untrue”.

Put two or three other puns on the
board, and have students design sarcastic statements from them. Then
have them work in pairs or groups
to invent their own puns or use ones
they know to express sarcastic ideas.

Use it as a fun tool for your advanced
or even intermediate conversation
classes to mix up their normal practice! At a minimum, it will help them
deconstruct complex meanings of
particular words and phrases, and all
will have a good laugh.

one by one you show a picture flashcard of a vocabulary word. and. You can actually make these quite tricky! 4 ALL IN This refers to wagering all of your remaining gambling money because you think you are going to win. if they are in. ask them to write down the correct answer. Tell students in the audience that they can bet any number of chips on any combination of players. vocabulary words. create a list of words that can make a properly constructed sentence. give them a candy. like candies. Give students a set number. For example. INCREASE PARTICIPATION. Create a quick game where students line up. Mark one with a star or other symbol. or take them away if they lose! 3 ROOT FOR THE UNDERDOG An underdog refers to any team or player in a sporting situation that is considered inferior to her opponent and most likely to lose. depending on who they think will form a correct sentence first from the given words. For a grammar principle you are teaching. Play on the phraseology by creating a game where students have to pick between two words to complete “under” sentences to practice vocabulary or other concepts. “sky” and “ceiling”. The player keeps the card if she gets the answer right and can choose “hit me” or “stick”. Make a game where students have to rate their confidence level for an answer. like 5 chips. Say. like relative clauses. If you teach conversation classes or advanced English learners that want to understand colloquialisms to improve their fluency. and explain that she wins by luck of the draw and give her a prize. ask them to look at the word or principle and put the card up their sleeve to take out when the topic comes up in class. Try a “Place Your Bets” grammar game. whether it is vocabulary words or grammar. Give them more points for going all in and getting the answer right! 5 HIT ME OR STICK This comes from Black Jack when the player gambles on taking another card to improve his chance of reaching 21 without going over. Americans love cheering for underdogs and use this term often in other non-sport arenas as well. like “not sure”. Americans use it in situations to express that they are putting their confidence and/ or resources and support into something or some situation. you can ask. Then. relative clauses. OR JUST TEACH IDIOMS. or “all in”. 6 LUCK OF THE DRAW This applies to chance games where one wins solely on being lucky and getting the winning number or card. etc. She loses all the cards won during her turn if she “goes over”. try one of these quick gambling casino breaks that also educate! TRY THESE VOCABULARY ACTIVITIES TO TEACH GAMBLING REFERENCES IN ENGLISH 1 ANTE UP This phrase refers to placing a starting bet to enter a round of poker or other gambling card game. It can be applied to wagering on any competitive event before it happens. “probably”. Make participation cards of any sort depending on what you are teaching that day like conversation questions. and it is a reference to placing a wager on a particular horse before a horse race. If they answer correctly. ask students who has the star. like who. and exercise your chosen activity. Ask students to draw a card at any break point in your class. Bring poker chips (or a handful of coins) to class. if they think they know the answer. Also bring quick prizes. “Who has what up their sleeves?” The students with “what” cards can read their questions for the class to answer. or a number. if you are teaching question words that day. so it is helpful to understand. or gets one wrong. 2 PLACE YOUR BETS Americans use this phrase quite frequently. when. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO ENERGIZE YOUR CLASS. ask them to choose which word best completes the sentence “We walked under the _____” and provide two words such as. PULL A FEW CARDS OUT OF YOUR SLEEVE AND GO ALL IN WITH SOME OF THESE GAMBLINGINSPIRED GAMES! 5 . Again. give cards to students with “what” on one side and a question on the other side. Prepare to ask a lot of questions that day that quiz prior teaching or follow-up on that day’s learning objectives. or whatever else you are practicing. they can “ante up” to get in the game by placing a chip in the can. and separate them into two groups. Double their chips if they win. where. and why. The player with the most cards wins. After you explain “what”. Then. or if you want to energize your intermediate or even beginner classes with interactive games.Place your Bets: 7 Casino Breaks to Teach Gambling References AMERICAN ENGLISH HAS A NUMBER OF COMMONLY USED WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS THAT DERIVED FROM GAMBLING. Explain that you will ask questions throughout class. Only give the topic. “Place your bets!” and have them set their bets on their left hand side for group one or right hand side for group two. you can use your poker chips. and have the four first contenders come to the board with a marker. Give a set amount of chips to each student at the beginning of class. This is a good game to repeat every few classes with different concepts so that they anticipate the star! 7 CARD UP YOUR SLEEVE Give each student a card with a principle that you are going to teach that day. For example. If they do have long sleeves. Have an empty box or can ready. and.

The more people the state has. there are three branches of the government that keep each other in check. These justices are nominated by the president.500 cases that are sent to the Supreme Court every year. When they are done. Finally. the nation’s capital. It will help them in everyday conversation and possibly help them to assist their children with their homework. The number of representatives in the House of Representatives (also elected officials) from each state depends on the population of that state. which when approved. He can also veto a bill. if that is the case. However. Of about 7. of course!) for the team who they thought presented the best argument.Keeping it in Check: Teaching the 3 Branches of the US Government LEARNING ABOUT A NEW GOVERNMENT CAN BE A BIT OVERWHELMING FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE WORKING ON LEARNING WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW FOR EVERYDAY ROUTINES. When the two years are over. All of these officials meet in Washington. only another Supreme Court decision or an amendment to the Constitution can overrule it. legislative and judicial. Give each pair of students an outline of a tree that has three branches. legislative and judicial on each of the branches. In this way no one has all the power in decision making. have students take turns reading the facts aloud. Each Congress lasts for two years. and one branch each for executive. In the United States. for the more advanced learners. In the United States. However. The purpose of the two houses is to be fair to the people of the United States. there are two elected officials from each state. the president cannot actually write bills himself. A good way to show this is to draw a tree. they are all important in running the US government. Together we call them Congress. Competition often brings out the best in people in general. write government on the trunk. It consists of two sections: the House of Representatives and the Senate. They should know that the president is the leader of the country and commands the military. Have each group choose a speaker and let the three students take turns arguing their points. Of course. it would be fun to have a debate about which branch is the most important. TEACH ABOUT THE US GOVERNMENT WITHOUT BEING OVERWHELMING 1 CHECK THIS OUT To start. You should let 6 them know the names of the positions in the cabinet. 4 THE JUDICIAL BRANCH The judicial branch is the part of the government that makes sure the laws are carried out fairly. The vice president is the President of the Senate and becomes president of the US if the president can no longer do his job. only about 80-100 cases are heard there. but debate is a fun way for more advanced students to utilize their skills. have a picture of the President for executive. the more Senators they have. He also leads the military. and facts about each branch. Congress for legislative and the Supreme Court for judicial. can become laws. the judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court Justices. Next. and so it probably will in your students. 6 DEBATING THE BEST Finally. unless they resign. of which there are nine. keeping everything in one place. Make sure the students know who our president and vice president are. students can come up to the front of the room and share their project. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the United States. Have them come up with ways that branch can help the US. 2 THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH The executive branch consists of the president. it is important that they understand the workings of the government where they live. give them pictures of the officials in each branch. then write executive. This will give students some idea of what you are saying before you even explain it. Tell them that the founding fathers of the US did not want anyone in the government to have too much power. In the Senate. Also. D. so they created the three branches.C. the vice president and cabinet members (heads of various departments). The cabinet members advise the president on important matters. have the students vote (secret ballot. each with its own limitations. Congress can write bills. The people of the United States vote for the president and vice president. and announce the winner. Once the Supreme Court makes a decision. He can authorize the use of troops without declaring war. The president is elected by the people and may serve up to two four year terms. There may be a rebuttal if you choose. 3 THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH The legislative branch writes the laws. Have them label the trunk as government. here is a fun activity to do to tie it all together. These lessons are geared toward those at an intermediate or higher level as they require some more advanced vocabulary and concepts in English. Have them match them to the right spot. 5 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER After your students learn all about the three branches of United States government. Use these activities to make sure your students know all about it. . Justices have their jobs for life. Divide the class into three teams and assign each team a branch. You may want to explain about how the word “cabinet” relates to a kitchen cabinet. but must be approved by the Senate. you will need to explain that there are three branches of government in the United States. The president approves bills that were approved by the House and the Senate so they become laws. The president chooses his cabinet members. or are impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. If they are willing. retire. new members of Congress are elected. One of these justices is the Chief Justice. but if 2/3 of Congress votes against him they can override that veto and it can still become a law. You will be surprised at how confident they will become in using English when bragging rights are at stake! UNDERSTANDING THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT IN THE UNITED STATES IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR SOMEONE LIVING HERE. but must get the approval of Congress to declare war.

a park. ACTIVITIES THAT MAKE STUDENTS RELATE IDEAS TO COLOR. have them write a story or a poem about the park/natural place you visited. You could use other art that evokes emotion as an alternative. and write happy. If you do not have the technology and still want to try this. AND MOODS WILL HELP THEM RETAIN THAT INFORMATION IN A MUCH MORE PROFOUND WAY For example. she will draw a sun. select the best words for number of students that day to relate to a color. and even past events in their lives. Pictures can be taken on cell phones or whatever camera they have available to them. ask them to connect what mood they feel when that weather happens and write the mood words in their selected crayon color. The connotation between mood and emotion and color will become very apparent to them and help them remember all of the concepts! WHETHER YOU ARE TEACHING COLORS AND SIMPLE MOODS TO LITTLE CHILDREN OR COMPLEX GRAMMAR CONCEPTS TO ADVANCED ADULTS. and grammatical and writing skills. They should select their favorite five photos at the end of the week. This is a great discussion starter to practice conversation as well as feelings and past tense! 2 NATURAL WORLD COLORS If you can. like emotions. put together a slide show of impressionist paintings that use a lot of colors. Then. weather. This is a great activity for kids. Then. or a more complicated word based on her vocabulary level. offering as many vivid crayon colors as you can. You could make it a homework assignment as well.) If you can. Then. emotions. You could use this activity to introduce weather concepts as well if they have not learned them yet. ask the picture provider why he chose that picture. the beach) early in the morning or during sunset. but you can use it with adults as well! Adult answers just might be more sophisticated. in yellow probably. Show a slide and ask: • What do you feel? • What colors are in this painting? • Do those colors make you feel that way in other circumstances? • Do they make you remember events that happened to you? They will link the colors to their moods. collect their pictures and present a slide show to the class. asking them to write down a mood they feel when they see the color. make this a magazine activity game and bring a stack to class one day.e.Feeling Blue? 3 Ways to Use Color to Teach Other Concepts STUDENTS ALWAYS SEEM TO REMEMBER COLORS EASIER THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER VOCABULARY CONCEPT. Have students share their results with the class and explain their color and mood choices. After the students finish drawing. It can practice present or past tense: “What did you see at the park?” or “What colors are in the park?” 3 SUNNY SPIRITS Ask students for all of the weather words they can think of and write them on the board. • minutes to pick out colors from pages that particularly strike them. Ask the students to draw that weather element. Here are four activities you can use focusing on color to teach emotions. TRY THESE 3 WAYS TO USE COLOR TO TEACH OTHER CONCEPTS IN ENGLISH 1 IMPRESSIONIST PAINTINGS If you have the technology. Have students identify as many colors as they can in the natural landscape and relate the colors to an object in a full sentence (i. and assign one to each student. 4 PICTURE PERFECT Ask students to take pictures for a week when they notice a color that strikes them. (If they have no access. moods. geared toward any age and any level of learner. if a student has “sunny”. as a homework assignment or in the next class. WHY? It is probably because we attach so many other meanings to colors. find an art book at a local library or school or network with other local teachers to find a colleague that can loan you one. go on a walk with students in a natural setting (a forest. Do not give them any more directions than that. Write the words on big pieces of paper. cheerful. the flowers on the tree are purple). giving them 20 7 . FEELINGS.

Here are 3 vocabulary activities and 7 movie suggestions to which to correlate them. like 30 “dialogue words”. ALMOST ANY MOVIE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A TEACHING TOOL APPLYING ONE OF THESE THREE ACTIVITIES! These are just some suggested movies to help you begin to integrate movie media into language learning. seeing. soda fountain. Animated movies are great for this. and museums. or parks. booth. 7 FORREST GUMP Any number of scenes are great for a transcript activity. • Download the script of the movie suggested. table. Use a scene of Forrest playing football at the university to reinforce sports vocabulary. To make sure they read and pay attention. • • • 8 SUBTITLE SEARCH If you have the time. Search the transcript for a part with vocabulary you want to reinforce. Animate movies aimed at kids for their primary audience do not use complicated vocabulary. like “How are you?” 2 RIO This is a visually fantastic film that you can use to practice basic concepts of pets. like a sports field. For example. have them pick a movie that they can access from a list. The witty dialogue makes for a comical transcript lesson as SHOWING A SCENE IN CLASS WITH THE TRANSCRIPT • Go to a site that has movie scripts. diners. 4 WHEN HARRY MET SALLY This classic Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal film has great scenes on city streets. “waves”. 1 Give students the transcripts and have them circle all of the sea life words. or Avatar. “clothing”. if you want to use Finding Nemo to reinforce ocean and sea life concepts and words. parades. or if they will invest two hours at home. and reading at the same time. birds. For example. Finding Nemo. Pick out a movie with high visual stimulation for the vocabulary concept you wish to teach. so they are great for beginners. USING THE MOVIE AS A VISUAL STIMULANT • Prepare a vocabulary sheet based on things they can see in the scene. show the scene in the diner from When Harry Met Sally and include plates. like again. or use a transcript to search for words related to money. or “directions”. ask them to write down a set number of vocabulary words from different class concepts you are learning.moviescriptsandscreenplays. and they will probably actually complete the assignments. with the end goal of helping your students practice with better results by hearing. such as 10 examples of conditional clauses! Show the scene in class. door. It could also be a movie scene in a particular setting. or of one that you know your students will like. then have them compare the lists they had generated while watching. 5 THE GODFATHER This movie has visually stunning scenes and is interesting to watch. on your vocabulary sheet. You can use this movie to reinforce sea life vocabulary or just basic dialogue skills. 7 MOVIE SUGGESTIONS FINDING NEMO This movie is visually stunning and fun to watch. or Rio. look for a section heavy with “fish”. the club. 6 SCARFACE Show a scene from the beach in Miami. 3 AVATAR Another eye-friendly film great for forest. either. if you want to reinforce restaurant vocabulary. have them watch movies in English with subtitles (or vice versa) to reinforce word lists! It is almost as good as reading a book. . like http://www. Ask students to describe what those elements look like in the movie scene. for example.7 Great American Movies to Reinforce Vocabulary EVERYONE LOVES POPCORN AND SNACKS MOVIES! If you are having trouble getting students to practice at home. Use Michael Corleone’s trip to Italy with subtitles in English to hunt for words about family and weddings. or other words on your list. or use the famous restaurant scene for a vocabulary background description activity. wildlife. Tell them to watch the movie in English with English subtitles. and ask students to write down as many words related to the ocean that they can hear in the film. or if they need to study before an exam and have trouble memorizing their vocabulary. This can make a great exam as well and you can even incorporate grammatical concepts for more advanced students. or a hotel for a vocabulary scene search. etc. counter. or military vocabulary.

you may want to talk to the students about this being a fun. YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER You will need three volunteers from outside your class for this one. This will help them understand personality traits even better. tell each student to choose three personality traits to describe themselves and hand it in to you. After you are done. I would never want to know someone who is _________________. Acting them out often helps students to remember the meaning of the word when they come across it later. Your students can not touch a “generous” or see an “angry. Try a few and see how it goes. List all of the negative traits you would like to include. silly activity. Again. should be kept positive. let those who are willing to share describe why they chose who they chose. Be sure to discuss how this activity. Next. Then.” For more advanced classes. Now have the students take turns doing the same. you may stick to more basic words such as “nice” or “mean. and turn them into a fun activity. You take turns reading the three traits for the person without revealing their name. Begin by showing them cards with large pictures and the name of the trait under it.” It is a topic that is very reliant on people and. but some patience may be required. give the class a chance to guess whose traits they are. Have a template on the board. The students will need copies of those lists. This can be a challenging topic for some because it is not so hands-on. If the class does not guess after three tries (or an appropriate amount for you. For example. “You’re not my type. their facial expressions and actions. It would be wise to limit it to a certain group. These five strategies will help you teach them so they can learn how to describe others in conversation. It can be a lot of fun for them to act out some of the vocabulary words. have the volunteers sit in the front of the room and not say a word.The Good and the Bad: 5 Strategies for Teaching Personality Traits BEING ABLE TO DESCRIBE SOMEONE’S PERSONALITY IS IMPORTANT FOR EVERYDAY CONVERSATION. but would be a lot of fun with a class who knows each other fairly well. however. have the students use their lists to compile a class list together. if you are studying the presidents. Next. nothing is tangible. After everyone has made a decision. you may need to remind them about disagreeing politely with someone. Next. USE THESE IDEAS TO TEACH PERSONALITY TRAITS 1 TEACH THE TERMS Your students will need to learn the vocabulary to express personality traits. 2 THE PROS AND CONS Begin by reviewing the traits you introduced in the previous activity. give the students a T chart with the headings “positive” and “negative. Begin by reviewing the personality traits with the picture cards. They could be friends of yours. using some or all of the strategies below will help you convey the meaning of personality traits. you may want them available for those who do not remember the meaning of each word.” Model reading this aloud with some theatrical contempt for the “person” about which you have written. you may want to label the two sides “good” and “bad. and make sure they are not referencing any specific student when they make these remarks. you could use celebrities or historical figures as the target person.” Ask the students to put the traits on either side of their chart. The traits you choose will depend on the level of your class. then determine if it is a good activity for your students. you could give them a list of five presidents you have discussed to use. fellow teachers willing to give up some time or students from another class looking for extra English practice. Next. TEACHING ABOUT PERSONALITY TRAITS CAN BE CHALLENGING BECAUSE THEY ARE ABSTRACT. This added modality will add to understanding for your students. This can prompt a great class discussion about each student’s choice. 4 WHO AM I? This could work for any class. Introduce these. Nevertheless. for the purpose of demonstration. so that your students have an idea of who they may choose. again. let the volunteers reveal their own lists. Judging on appearances alone. For beginners. Some students may not be used to this type of discussion. you may want the mystery person to reveal him or herself. this may be challenging. 9 . Have the volunteers write down a list of five personality traits (from your original list) to describe themselves. If you have picture dictionaries. Depending on your class. The more active the students are in your classroom. List them on the board in no particular order. the more they are able to act out what they need to act out. you may extend to words such as “generous” or “petty.” Don’t be afraid to act the traits out as you introduce them. It can be taught. It can be a very useful tool for you as a teacher. depending on how many students you have in your For an interesting twist on this game. If they start to get into the spirit of being dramatic about it. Depending on the class.” or if they are beginners. Note that some may have the same trait as a positive that others may have as a negative. Have each student talk about someone they would never want to meet. listing all the negative traits of which they can think. and that students should be respectful of each other at all times. having the students repeat after you as you pronounce them. class. You will need to adapt each activity depending on the level of your class. 3 5 YOU’RE NOT MY TYPE Take these same personality traits you have been working on. this can be a fun activity. ESL students will need to learn how to do this. have the students decide which person wrote which list.

Which muscle/body part could lift that weight or what machine they used. starting with 2 pounds. equations and numbers do not automatically relate to physical weight and size in our heads. and 3. Figure out a landmark at each quarter mile. a quarter mile. Put the cars in neutral and have the students try pushing them in pairs and then guessing how many tons they weigh.2 pounds in a kilogram.Weighing in: How to Teach Weights and Measurements Experientially TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE AS LANGUAGE TEACHERS.” Go for a walk! Have a conversation class along the way. and three quarters of a mile? Walk back and point out when you hit each landmark again. Have students work in pairs if they each have a kit. When you get to the ice cream shop. Even if it is. like a stop at a park and some candies). Find an empty space in a parking lot or a flat street clear of traffic. Ask them to measure each piece and make sure it correlates to the size listed in the directions. Only tell students. 2 PUMP SOME IRON Go to a gym for this activity. Have students check stand. or use a different reward based on your budget. 5 pounds. Prepare a checklist activity where students have to work in pairs and try to pump the amount of weight in different columns. Create a list of questions beforehand. go to a supermarket or local vegetable TEACHING WEIGHTS AND MEASUREMENTS IN ENGLISH CAN BE A MATHEMATICAL NIGHTMARE. teach the concepts experientially. There are 2. WE SHOULD ASSUME THAT MATH IS NOT THE STRONGEST SUBJECT OF PEOPLE STUDYING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. use one as a demonstration and have each student assemble a piece. like an ice cream shop. like a birdhouse kit. To what ease they can lift the weight. but if not. Map out a mile from your classroom to another destination that has a reward. “We are going for a walk. great. but how far is that really? To instill weights and measurements in your EFL learners. You can alternatively use a sewing exercise or paper construction for this activity if wood is expensive or messy! 4 THAT WEIGHS A TON How much is a ton really? Find a few parents. . bring an English measurement scale with you if you can. They will have to understand English inches and feet to assemble. If each student can buy the materials. and up to as much as 100 pounds. Ask them: When did we hit a half mile. or ask a local hotel or fitness center if you can bring a class in for a half hour learning session on an off hour. This activity will correlate pounds to real weight in their minds! 3 CARPENTRY CLASS Find a precut wood assembly activity. Be enthusiastic about pointing out the landmarks at the quarter miles. but what does that weight feel like? A mile is a little less than 2 kilometers. • Ask them: How far do you think we just walked? • Explain to them how to divide up a mile in quarters. If you are teaching in a non-English speaking country. and they will have a finished product for their efforts. If they can lift the weight. Hopefully you have a school gym in your teaching facility. or students if they are older. Look up the actual weights in the owner manual or on the Internet. OR IT CAN BE A FUN EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITY! Take your students into the field with these observational do and learn exercises. or just convert afterwards. buy some for your students (if you can. Here are some ideas as to how you can do that! CHECK THE IDEAS FOR TEACHING WEIGHTS AND MEASURES 1 WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES Plan an hour and a half for this activity. willing to participate with their cars and trucks. 1. You 10 could also bring some free weights into class. Give prizes to whomever was closest to the real weight! 5 HOW MUCH DO FOUR APPLES WEIGH? To teach ounces and smaller weights. Have a car available with a volunteer driver for students with disabilities if necessary. like “how much do four apples weigh?” Students should work in pairs and gather and weigh each item on the list. Bring in measuring tapes as well. 2.

or to relay another concept. “ate all .” • The waiter should apologize and take the food away. and euphemizing with situational activities for your conversation class. 6 THAT IS SO UNFAIR… Native English speakers will actu- 11 .. but English speaking natives do so on a daily basis! Most native English speakers learn to be independent and think freely from their parents and siblings early on. the other person should be polite and apologetic and look for a solution to change the situation to the liking of the customer. I find” to talk about snow. and this pizza you brought has olives. and onions. a concern. 2 MY BLASTED MOTHER IN LAW… Many cultures would not dream of criticizing or complaining about family members.Teaching 7 Situations When Complaining Means Something Else English speakers probably seem to complain a lot to EFL learners. annoys me. bothers me. i.” 4 I CAN’T BELIEVE HE MADE ME WAIT! Waiting annoys most born with the English tongue. like hotels. with “testing my patience” on the back. These critiques are not necessarily complaints.” This is a great way to practice complaining behind someone’s back as well as simple past tense verbs! 3 IT IS SO COLD! Bad weather makes people grumpier. but they sound like complaints to non native speakers who might think it is rude to criticize food! Emulate restaurant ordering and complaining with a role-playing activity. a paper might read: you have a 10:00 am doctor appointment and it is 10:30 and you are still in the waiting room. show a short video clip of someone sending their food back at a restaurant or act out a scene in front of the class.”. The customer should then practice complaining by critiquing the food. • Use complaint language like “I hate. • Give scenarios on papers about situations where one has to wait. What we natives may not realize is that we do complain more often than other cultures. We do not realize because we are not always complaining but using complaint language to express an opinion. and role play placing it on the table and naming different pizza components than what the customer ordered. and they are quick to comment if it is not so. especially in laws that think differently than their family. when I did all the work!” • Makes you do something “below” your ability level: “She made me get coffee for everyone at the table! It was my meeting!” Create scenarios on a list or hand out on pieces of paper to each student and have them read the sentence and try to guess why it would make the speaker so mad. ice. “I wanted cheese.. and then ask students to apply an idiom supplied on the other side of the paper in a sentence. “I can’t believe she said I was fat. • First. • Construct an “I can’t believe she” activity to explain lightheartedly what bothers natives about their in laws or family. The learning objective is explaining the formula that when a customer complains about something not being exactly how she wanted. • • Instruct the waiter to bring the wrong food.”. • For example. critiquing.” 5 MY BOSS MADE ME… We complain about our bosses and about work. • Have students pick a weather condition and tell why they hate it. • For example.. pepperoni. It is good to teach the specific situations that annoy English speakers so that ESL students understand the derivation of such anger in the workplace. TEACH THESE 7 SITUATIONS WHEN COMPLAINING MEANS SOMETHING ELSE 1 BUT I DIDN’T WANT PICKLES WITH THAT! Native English speakers like food to be perfect. Practice “waste of time” language in your conversation class. • “This doctor is really testing my patience for making me wait. One will play the waiter and the other the customer. wind. • Provide a menu where students have to pick a very specific order. • Ask students to complete the sentences. • Put scenarios on papers/cards such as “said I . etc. and all of the other bad weather most natives know so well. This will practice restaurant ordering dialogue as well. • Work long hours: “I had to stay until 8:00 at night and cancel my plans!” • Not giving credit: “He told the board members that ‘his’ team designed the plan. You can discuss how cultural values drive annoyance.e.” “I can’t believe she ate all the turkey.. so they clash often with family. Here are 7 fun ways to illuminate your learners on the particularities of complaining. and native English speakers live mainly in fickle climates and hence grumble about gray skies frequently. rain. • Ask students to work in pairs. You can use a similar role playing game for other service industries. like three toppings for a pizza that also requires selection of one of five different crusts and four different sauces. and then they can switch roles. “I hate the snow because I cannot drive my car.

What do you say to your boss? • Family favorites: Your Dad takes your brother out to dinner one night and you were not included. a situation happened that bothered me a bit . as it is critical to understand the values that drive irritation. and criticism within English speaking cultures... annoyance. you will be providing a service to your students as well. What do you say to him? 7 HE DRIVES ME NUTS! The romantic relationship is the source of the most confusing complaint language in English.. They can write their complaints or verbally discuss them. IF HANDLED THE RIGHT WAY. While a whole article could be devoted just to this subject. I think maybe you overlooked this detail”. BUT.. Teach what situations are considered unjust and how to complain about them politely to try to change the situation by passing out scenarios and having students try to create a complain to their bosses or other people that seemingly have control over them to change a situation they view is unjust. 12 . • What bothers you the most about your wife? • What is the thing you and your husband fight the most about? • What is your biggest complaint about your ex-boyfriend? COMPLAINING AND COMPLAINT LANGUAGE CAN BE NEGATIVE AND DEPRESSING. Teach soft complaint language like “I would like to discuss an issue with you. which is somewhat unique in a generally order-taking world. IT CAN CONVERSELY BE A FUN WAY TO ENERGIZE YOUR CONVERSATION SESSIONS! By including it in your EFL lessons. Scenario examples include: • Money: You are paid less of a bonus at Christmas time than a colleague on the same pay scale and think it is unfair. try a simple conversation exercise where students talk about love gone wrong or things their partners do that irritate them.

English speakers use the 12 hour clock as opposed to a 24 hour clock. Instruct them to walk around the class. Hence. Give idioms on paper cut outs to one group of students. This will make the terms come alive for students! • Match the definitions: Separate the students into two groups. and then modern situations that apply the idioms to another group. a political bandwagon. it is an alarm trigger to remember to do something or just to remember something in general. the first one would be in red letters and the second in blue. they were offering their support literally to that candidate that was using popularity to gain votes. 13 . It is rare for a month to have two full moons. and/or old pictures: Put together a slide show to show a page from the Farmers’ Almanac. steam has to be “blown off”.” RING A BELL Modern America was created by settlers colonizing new towns across the North American continent. and find their matches. or released from the mechanism. The team has to guess the phrase in a minute or less to get a point. but if it did. electricity. or just completing a task. When a pitcher has good control of the game. “Let’s get together and chew the fat after work. “My mom calling me rung a bell that her birthday is next week. a steam engine. ‘Chew the fat’ refers to sitting and talking socially about lighthearted subjects with someone. This expression is widely used by Americans when they need to relax after being in a stressful or pressure situation: “I need to blow off some steam and go golfing. The Almanac listed the full moon cycle.” 6 ONCE IN A BLUE MOON The Farmers’ Almanac was used throughout America. talk to each other in English. “He finally got the paper in at the eleventh hour. or rooting for a sports team that is likely to win a championship. This expression refers to the way one looks going through with- drawal from a drug quit without assistance: cold and pallid and moist to the touch. If people “jumped on the bandwagon”. the bell was rung to remind townspeople of events and hours. the expression “once in a blue moon” means that something occurs very rarely. Be prepared with the background knowledge and turn their curiosity into an interactive history lesson with these 8 strategies. ON THE BALL This term comes from baseball. students will hear idioms in songs and on TV shows and ask you what they mean. This expression is used in English to refer to joining a cause or movement.” 5 JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON Political campaigns in the world’s oldest democracy would try to engage people to listen to a speaker and vote for a candidate with wagons of musical bands before TV and cars. “I quit smoking cold turkey.” 2 BLOW OFF SOME STEAM The steam engine was popularized for trains in the United States in the 1800’s.” 3 CHEW THE FAT Native Americans would chew whale fat like gum.” 4 COLD TURKEY Turkeys are white. and phones. “He was really on the ball and got that project done before the deadline. Students should act out the words in their phrases or draw the concepts in two teams. Before alarms. When pressure builds in one. he is “on the ball”. Towns INJECT A BIT OF HISTORY INTO YOUR CLASS AND/OR CONVERT YOUR CONVERSATION COURSE INTO AN EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH AMERICAN HISTORY IDIOM EXPLANATIONS! They can be powerful tools to help students make word and concept connections that help elucidate ideas in English and are also interesting to learn. to predict weather conditions annually. so the eleventh hour is the last one to finish a project or event on a certain day.” 7 almost always had a church with a bell as a central meeting place. “My daughter eats broccoli once in a blue moon.How to Explain 8 Common American Historical Idioms IT CAN BE HARD TO EXPLAIN IDIOMS COMMONLY USED IN ENGLISH WHEN WE AS TEACHERS ARE UNSURE OF THE MEANINGS OURSELVES! Invariably. “I jumped on the bandwagon and tried that new diet everyone is talking about. bumpy. especially one that is popular. BE PREPARED TO EXPLAIN HISTORICAL IDIOMS EFFICIENTLY 1 AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR This expression is used frequently to refer to completing a task at the last minute before a deadline. • Act it out or draw it out: Make a charades game or a drawing game as a check for learning after you have explained the concepts. and cool to the touch when dead and plucked. etc. • Slide Show with historical cartoons. English speakers say they are “on the ball” when they are on top of a situation.” 8 Teaching techniques: use these activities together or separately to teach and reinforce history idiom learning. which was predominantly agricultural until after World War II. socially or to pass the time. a project. Hence. if a clue or signal “rings a bell”.

” as is necessary for the calendar. 7 THIS IS YOUR MONTH Assign each student a month of the year (repeating if necessary). drawing a picture symbolizing either the month or the people who have important dates for them in that month.Give it a Year: 7 Strategies for Teaching about the Calendar The topic of calendars is a very important one for ESL students. season or usual weather in your area. Point out how the calendar week starts on Sunday. Go over the pronunciation of the months and the days. You may want to ask the students for dates important to them to make it more relevant. they will need make sure they are putting the month before the day. fun strategies to teach reading a calendar for your ESL class. It will help them at work. This is very important because students will need to be able to write the date in number form on a check or the like. they can share these with the class. When they finish. You call out a number and they respond with the month. After they are done. either at the beginning or end of every class. and other students tell you who is first. TRY THESE 7 STRATEGIES TO TEACH ABOUT THE CALENDAR 1 SPELL IT OUT First you will need to introduce the names of the days of the week and the months of the year. Many students enjoy taking a leadership role. When it is their turn. at least one for each month if possible. Have your students bring it a list of dates that are important to them. “twenty-thirteen. no matter what their age. Have one member of each team come to the board. or print them out. This keeps it a bit more interesting. Teach them the ordinal numbers all the way to “thirty-first. second and so on. it is not necessary to use ordinal numbers to express the date. today is “______________” and tomorrow will be “________________. have them take turns reading them aloud.” Getting into a routine of saying the date on a regular basis will help your students become comfortable with using a calendar in English. you can ask. 5 YOUR NUMBER’S UP Reading and writing the date using numbers only may be a challenge for your students. using numbers. 2 WHO’S ON FIRST? In some other languages. Be sure to work on the pronunciation of the year as well. Divide the class into teams (number of teams would depend on number of students). 4 MAKE IT YOUR OWN This activity requires some preparation from your student. Now. but tell them not to tell others which month they have. you may let the students act as the leaders and call out the numbers or months. Begin by reviewing how to write the date in number form. as in other cultures it may start on Monday or another day. Students may be used to giving the number before the month and so on. It is fun to see who can guess the answers the most quickly. such as its holidays. “My sister’s birthday is on October 16th. Have them design their own calendars. For a fun twist. 6 FRIENDLY COMPETITION This is a fun way to practice writing the date using numbers correctly in English. Read aloud a date in this format: “the 27th of February. Here are some simple. or simple questions like “On what day is this class?” and look for correct answers. but now need to adjust to the month and then the date. and vice versa. Some fun activities to teach them would be to have students line up. An added challenge for some is that they may usually put the date before the month. You may want to start by drilling them regarding the num- bers for each month. there are also ordinal numerals to work with as well. have them choose volunteers to guess the correct answer. This lends itself to a lot of repetition. 14 3 IT’S A DATE It is very important to teach how to say a full date in English. BEING ABLE TO READ A CALENDAR AND READ AND WRITE THE DATE ARE ALL VERY IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR YOUR ESL STUDENTS. You can practice by yesterday was “_____________”. particularly those who are used to putting the day before the month. If you have covered birthdays. You will need blank calendars with a space for a picture on the top. Start with today’s date and proceed with a few other example dates. Of course. at home and socially. Calendar is definitely one of those activities that you can and should put into your class routine. You may need to explain to your students that in English it is done this way. Show a calendar of the year in its entirety. then the year.” After they are done writing. You will need to explain to them how the date is said in English: the month followed by the ordinal number. filling in the correct English terms. you may want to continue further with the ordinal numbers now or in future sessions.” while others say. “Who has a birthday in ___________?” (insert month). This becomes a high energy game and is popular with students. order blank calendars from a teaching supply site.” but they both mean 2013. Depending on your class. or it is an intermediate or advanced class. have the students write sentences for five of those occasions. You may want to explain that some people say “two thousand thirteen. If possible. . For example.” The first player to write “2/27” correctly wins that round. Asking them who has a birthday in a certain month and then having them tell you the actual date is a fun way to include everyone on a personal level. Everyone needs to be able to discuss the date or the year. You can make this activity as easy or difficult as you choose. have them write “Anna’s birthday” or whatever the occasion may be. Have them write three clues about the month. On the calendar grid.

6 ELIMINATE EXCLUSION. but also interact with the locals. HOW TO INCLUDE CROSS-CULTURAL TRAINING IN YOUR ESL CLASSROOM 1 GIVE THEM SKILLS THEY CAN USE – EVERY DAY Upon arriving to a foreign country students may not understand a whole lot. There are groups for people interested in photography. there are several role play situations that will be specifically useful for them. but that does not mean they won’t feel less excluded. Don’t forget to teach informal language that is useful to students. The first thing they can do to ensure there are no misunderstandings. men become guys. students need to learn the cultural aspects that will help them not only understand the country they are now living in. a student will ask you what a particular word means. they will participate in the actual celebration at someone’s home. You might want to tailor role plays with this particular need in mind. If they show interest in the local cuisine. you might want to teach them a few new words. and the students’ culture is the dominant one. • It helps students connect with locals faster. 5 SPARK INTEREST While there are plenty of things you can teach them in the classroom. you may teach your class all about the American Thanksgiving. women become gals. the dominant one. but they will certainly have a special interest in common. For example. but hopefully at some point. In addition to the language. They may not share the same native language. or children who want to make new friends. and enjoy them for what they are: opportunities to connect with others – despite the cultural differences. Here’s what you need to know for effective cross-cultural training within your ESL classroom. from grocery shopping to health care concerns.Cross-cultural Education How It Helps ESL Students Lots of ESL teachers teach English in countries where English is not the native language. in fact. The sense of belonging to a group and feeling included can do wonders for your ESL students. Take the opportunity to teach the meaning of that word but also any others that fall into the same category. which include: • Asking the speaker to slow down • Asking the speaker to repeat what he/she said • • • • Retelling. Cash becomes dough. for instance. like other local foods. 15 . It is precisely this crosscultural training that helps everything seem a little less “alien” and a little more “familiar”. What’s the point of helping them learn more about the local culture if they won’t have anyone to interact with? For example. 4 INCLUDE INFORMAL LANGUAGE One of the most confusing aspects of the new language is the set of colloquialisms and slang a student is suddenly exposed to. if your ESL students are homemakers who have had to relocate with their husbands. more confidently and enables them to form stronger social and business connections. and that no one is offended by the wrong type of remark is to learn some basic skills. and even foreign language exchange – in practically every city in the globe. cross-cultural training relieves the stress of relocation. there are things they should also find out on their own. art. but then encourage them to research others. reading. but they will understand one thing: lots of things are different there. Our goal is to help them prepare so that they can face these events and dayto-day interactions with confidence. But there are ESL teachers that teach English as a second language when it is. an item of clothing or a word used in a phrase. 3 USE THEIR OWN CURIOSITY More often than not. taking photos of the food at a local restaurant or looking up menus online. while still avoiding words and phrases that are obviously vulgar and can’t be used in polite conversation. • It helps prevent culture shock. 2 FOCUS ON THEIR NEEDS What is your students’ most pressing need? To make new friends at school? To do business/errands around town? To give professional presentations and participate in meetings? The answer to this question should give you exactly what you need to focus on throughout your lessons. It might be a food. This last point can’t be emphasized enough. Assign projects or homework that includes. Are there any opportunities for them to interact with local groups? A quick search on Meetup. to confirm they’ve understood correctly Making polite requests Asking for more information and learning about differences/things they don’t understand Proper ways to greet people and say goodbye These are essential skills that will not only help them get around but also get them started on the right foot towards making new contacts/friends. com may turn up some interesting results. THE BENEFITS OF CROSS-CULTURAL TRAINING IN THE ESL CLASSROOM • Whether your students are adults who will be doing business in a country that is foreign to them. and the list goes on. FOSTER INCLUSION ESL students may learn all the right skills and useful vocabulary to communicate and interact with the locals.

you can work with an illustration of a human body and have them repeat as you go along. 2 HOW DO YOU FEEL? In addition to expressing what they have. make cards with the questions a doctor might ask and others with answers. The student would then say. I have had these symptoms for a week. My feet are swollen ACTIVITY 2 Write down a list of ailments on the board. You know you need medical attention. Have some students pick a card from the doctor’s questions and others from the patient’s. You’ll need to describe symptoms and how you feel in general. I have a terrible headache I feel intense pain in my leg when I walk. To do this. it is also important to describe symptoms using adjectives. Take a look at some examples: My throat feels scratchy/ irritated/ raw. Assign one to each student and have them describe how they might feel when they have this ailment. THOUGH WE WOULD ALL LIKE TO FEEL LIKE A MILLION DOLLARS EVERYDAY. I have a backache/ headache/ toothache/ etc. Basically one student plays the doctor while another plays the patient. With your ESL students it is a good idea to practice this.How do you feel? Prepare your ESL students for the worst FEELING SICK IS ALWAYS A DRAG. PARTS OF THE BODY In any kind of medical situation it is essential to know where everything is first. What brings you here? What is bothering you? What seem to be the problem? How can I help you? Now come the answers.. Doctors naturally want to know and always ask when symptoms began. Take a look at the following expressions They started last week/ one week ago/ last Monday. Adjectives provide more details and can come in handy when the doctor wants to know where to look. My neck is stiff/ sore My chest feels constricted. Your students should learn what questions they will be asked and what they should answer. and this is why our students need to be ready. Getting sick is a natural human condition. Student A can describe how he/she feels and student B has to guess what he/she has. 3 IS IT BAD? Very often simply stating what you have or what hurts just isn’t enough. ISN’T IT? It gets even worse when you realize you need to see a doctor. For example: Sore throat. I feel feverish. PREPARE YOUR STUDENTS TO SEE A DOCTOR IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY PAINLESSLY 1 WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? When anyone arrives at a doctor’s office. why that person has taken the trouble to go to their office. Take a look at some popular choices. My nose feels itchy.Take a look at some typical ailments and the expressions used to talk about them below. we are in fact helping our ESL students cope with difficult situations. ACTIVITY 1 To practice. I have some discomfort on my . things can only get worse if they aren’t prepared. in other words. Now imagine this. You should teach your students the parts of the body so they can clearly express where the discomfort is.This information is also vital for an accurate medical diagnosis. Here they will need to give accurate descriptions of 16 symptoms and where they are located on the body.. ACTIVITY 4 For this last activity a role play is very handy. For example: Student A: I have intense pain in my stomach. After they are done they can switch roles. 4 WHEN DID THESE SYMPTOMS BEGIN? This is another typical question. By practicing this. I have a mild stomachache I feel a little dizzy when I get up. . they have to be ready for whatever happens. Communicating with a doctor in a foreign language can be frustrating. After all. My head/ back/ leg/ foot/ stomach hurts. In this scenario. “My throat feels raw and irritated”. Pair the students up and have them act out short exchanges where one is the doctor and the other is the patient. A great way to intensify is by using adjectives and adverbs. the first thing the doctor is going to want to know is what is ailing that person. Another option is to point to parts of the body and have them tell you what they are. Student B: You have a stomachache. Here is a list of useful questions that can help you prepare them. THAT IS SADLY IMPOSSIBLE. you are in a foreign country and you feel terrible. and that’s when you become aware of the fact that your whole conversation with the doctor will be in another language. My throat is terribly irritated ACTIVITY 3 Here you can use a simple guessing game. We need to let the doctor know how bad that pain or problem is.

1 Be sure to do a bit of research ahead of time so that by the time you have the lesson you are ready to guide your students to the best sources. some of their main characteristics and where they hit. the more they will know. helping your ESL students for unexpected mishaps is very important. They should understand all of them clearly because there may be cases where their survival might depend on it. wet or dry. you have your sources. Ask yourself these questions. evacuate. What comes next? Well. there plenty of different sources of information. HOWEVER EVEN THOUGH WE ARE TALKING ABOUT DISASTERS. So for this last part of the lesson. 5 2 Start with a list of some of the most common disasters. The first rule in any kind of preparation is info. warning. First things first. 17 . just learning about possible problems isn’t very useful unless you know what to do about them. these problems are here to stay. emergency. The first thing your students will need to do is learn where they can find information about the disasters they might encounter. KEEP IN MIND THAT WE ARE PREPARING THEM FOR THE WORST BUT EVEN IN HARD CONDITIONS WE SHOULD ALWAYS HOPE FOR THE BEST. you should focus on where they happen. You will find much more vocabulary on the sites you are consulting. etc. info. ISASTERS AND WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT D 4 So now that we know where the good information is. Governmental organizations are usually very trustworthy but there are others as well. Once again. info. but think about your ESL students who usually need to travel and might even live abroad at some point. you should focus on what should be done when disasters come knocking at your door. It is important to understand what the consequences of each type of disaster are. What happens when they hit? What do they do? What is the degree of destruction? Of course you can add to this list and remember the more info you cover. Who hasn’t been affected by one in one form or another? Whether it’s extremely cold or hot. 3 Your students will not encounter all types of disasters. The main objective here is not only to find information but for them to learn how to search for that kind of information by themselves. A bit of looking around will definitely help you find great info. GOAL ORIENTED AND POSITIVE. So the question is. What types of disasters affect the place where they’ll be. Let’s face it. you will find this info on the sites you consulted earlier. W Make sure your students are ready to follow steps and fully understand what they need to do when something happens. Once they are on their own things could get a bit hairy if they aren’t ready. you are ready for the next step. you know about disasters. HAT SHOULD BE DONE OK. facing difficult situations like these is certainly hard anywhere you are. They are necessary for them to understand what they need to do. WE MUST ALWAYS KEEP THE LESSONS UPBEAT. it is necessary to check these sources ahead of time. what is a natural disaster? In this case you will need to learn about different kinds of disasters together and go over the information with your students. Don’t they deserve to be ready? If you consider that disasters of different sorts are more and more common. BEING READY CAN GIVE PEOPLE A FIGHTING CHANCE TO GET THROUGH HARD SITUATIONS UNSCATHED. They might however bump into one or two depending on where they are traveling or moving to. By doing this you can spend more time on the types of situations they will likely encounter. TRY THESE 5 GREAT TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR STUDENTS FOR DISASTERS W HERE THE INFO IS. So a little research is required here but fortunately. Of course there are different types so what you should focus on is names and general description of each. Now. After going over a list of common natural disasters.Ready for the worst? 5 Great tips on preparing students for disasters EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ARE EVERYWHERE. Teach them expressions like take cover. our weather conditions are changing drastically and bringing all sorts or unexpected chaos in its wake. how can you do this? Take a look at these tips. Also since there are many sources of information on just about anything.

and challenging. However. This will be a group project and the teacher must decide if they want every group to complete a different route. it is labour intensive so do not make these courses too long or the students will lose interest. there are obvious benefits to keeping the kids inside. or it they want to send all of the groups on the same route and make it a timed event. student B’s first clue could be ‘I have a very big safe’ and so on. The directions that the group are given would be something like the following: go to the bank. giving new directions from the new location to different selected landmarks. student A’s first clue could be ‘People would love to rob me’. but for those who do. but they are actually practicing using the language in an applicable manner. In this way. In the latter case. To emphasise listening skills with higher level classes. . select a specific business or landmark and require that the students take a photo of it 18 to show the teacher when they get back. but one thing they all have in common is that the students stay inside. block-by-block directions that they must follow or give them a map with a series of points indicated on it and have them create the most efficient route to visit all of them. It is these lesser known places that your students will have to locate and document in some way. students will have cell phones with cameras. From here. all of these are only the activities and none of them will work if the teachers have not first taught the necessary vocabulary and phrases to their students. Some are good and some are not so good. My preference is for sending them all out on different routes. read the directions out to the groups rather than handing them sheets of paper with written directions. For each location. but the students seem to enjoy it. Not every teacher has the good fortune to be allowed to take their students outside. understanding. Either give them a sheet of written. Now. For higher level classes. From there. In most well wired countries. draw that on the map. such as would be used between cities. 2 LANDMARKS In some ways this is very similar to the above exercise but it practices a different kind of directions. CONCLUSION Obviously. and head off to their new destination. ruler. All the number one clues would lead to the same thing. Once you are sure that they know where they are going turn them loose in the neighbourhood to follow the directions. or other distinct locations and mark them on the map. the second might be to locate the market with a green sign. Go northwest 850 meters). this activity takes a lot of class time. Taking a bank as an example. Each group will get a list of landmarks in the neighbourhood and with each landmark. read the next compass based direction. Also. go southeast 200 metres. They use these to locate their destination on the map and then go to it. include a small landmark based instruction at each location. But nothing really prepares students like actually using the language out in the world. Designing this activity requires that the teacher spend quite a bit of time finding suitable landmarks and that they understand the layout of the neighbourhood. As a result. 3 LARGE SCALE MADE SMALL Finding a way to practice large scale directions. Asking. For example the landmark might be the bank. so they can read the clues to one another and try and work out what the place could be. They must have all the photos in the correct order when they arrive back at the school. each member of the group would get a set of numbered clues. Identify several landmarks. create a jigsaw style puzzle that they must solve before they can go out and find the landmark. and directions with them. To do this.Directions: 3 Outdoor Activities for Three Types of Directions DIRECTIONS ARE SOMETHING EVERY ESL TEACHER WILL HAVE TO ADDRESS AT SOME POINT. crossroads. so sit back and share in the fun. directions can be. this activity plays out the same way Block by Block. It makes sure that there they don’t just run along and follow one group after another. the students must take the map. Create a list of major neighbourhood landmarks and locate small lesser known shops or markers near them. For example if the first instruction takes them to an elementary school. here are three great activities for getting your students using English directions in real time. Create a set of directions from the school. and classes where there is more time. If the students have access to compasses you can make these directions even more specific with degree values etc. with the various groups competing with one another to complete their list of destinations first. All you need is a map of the neighbourhood and a familiarity with the area around your school. allow at least five minutes between groups departing to prevent a foul up along the way. it is always fun to watch the kids charging off and racing back having completed their tasks. when they see how useful. Extension: Rather than just giving them the names of landmarks such as banks. they start to realize that this might actually be a useful ability to have and tend to make a greater effort to understand the necessary language. As you can see. a plethora of directions activities are available on almost any ESL or EFL website. directions to get to the smaller location nearby. TRY THESE 3 GREAT OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES TO HELP STUDENTS USE DIRECTIONS 1 BLOCK BY BLOCK This is one of the easiest activities to create. For low level classes simply continue in this vein. Then they must locate the landmark on the map. These should take the form of directions and distance (ie. This also requires a map and knowledge of the neighbourhood on the part of both teachers and students. and giving directions is such an important skill that it really can’t be overlooked. Beyond that. Students love these activities because they get to head outside and run around. It’s like free time for them. is very difficult and obviously falls in the category of how can I approximate the skills they need while still making a fun activity? This activity necessarily draws on the landmark style instructions as well as practicing compass based directions. Once they reach the first destination they have to search for the landmark. Depending on the level of your class there are two ways to prepare. Give the students a scale map of the neighbourhood and make sure they have a ruler. Locate the small restaurant with a red sign that is kitty-corner to the bank and on the second floor. and working with maps will certainly help them start to get a firm grasp on the language they need to ask directions.

How to describe sizes and what size they are. tice language functions where they ask about the price and if there are any sales or discounts. It is a good idea to practice brainstorming what things they might like or not like about different pieces of clothing.Shop Till You Drop. right? At the end of any shopping spree we have to pay. May I have a size 10 please? I’d like this in large. so. Whether it’s too big or too small. This is what a lot of our students might go through unless we step in and do something about it. It’s a bit too tight/ loose / big / small It’s fine. but sadly she doesn’t understand. they’ll see shopping can be a blast. They could also say they don’t like it because the wool is rough. I don’t like the way this looks on me. all of us also have our own preferences. Colors we wear affect how we feel. once you’ve chosen what you like and tried it on. MAKE STUDENTS’ SHOPPING PLEASANT IN AN ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY 1 SIZE DOES MATTER There is nothing worse than buying something that doesn’t fit. I was thinking of something a bit more loose/ tight. please? 3 IN STYLE Though styles change from time to don’t speak the local language. it’s off to the fitting room. Let’s take a look at some useful expressions. if it isn’t just right. It can make us more formal or casual. This is not the part we like the most. The style of clothes we use is something that identifies us. we are aiming for language functions that describe styles. You need assistance but you can’t ask for help -. it’s so comfortable/ soft. it’s time to look at the price. Some people do that at the beginning. How much does it cost? How much is it? Is this on sale? Do you have anything a little cheaper? 6 CASH OR CHARGE? All this fun must conclude some time. Naturally. Also. It can make us look more professional or fun and carefree. Take a look at some popular choices. Where ESL vocabulary is concerned. light and dark. I love this . Take a look at some of the most common questions.. Take a look at these great tips and goal-oriented activities.. An example with a sweater is that they like it because it’s warm. Is there anything a bit shorter/ longer. Here. Here. You desperately point and use your hands to show the sales person what you want. they will need to describe what was wrong with their choices and why they didn’t like them. What colors does this come in? Do you have this in red/ bright red? Is this available in blue/ dark blue? I’d like this in black. always something to look forward to. they will need to express what they did like. That is when you realize shopping will be a lot harder than you had imagined.. it is important to go over colors with your students. When students are ready. How much is it in total with tax? Do you take credit cards/ checks? GIVE YOUR ESL STUDENTS THE TOOLS TO MANAGE SITUATIONS LIKE THESE CONFIDENTLY AND COMFORTABLY. I’m looking for something a bit more formal/ elegant/ casual. but unless you want to have problems with the police. 2 COLOR ME HAPPY All of us have colors we simply love and others we can live without. it is simply wrong. it is critical to have your students prac- 19 . not a drag. and there is a lot we can do. I’ll take it. I’m size 12. You might also want to introduce modifiers such as bright. 5 IS THE PRICE RIGHT? As it goes. I don’t see it on the rack. 6 Great Activities to Help Students Shop WHO DOESN’T LIKE SHOPPING? The thrill of buying new things is truly exciting. 4 HOW DO I LOOK? At this point your students have already chosen a couple of things they like and would like to try on. In any case. we all have preferences depending on taste and also the occasion where that piece of clothing will be used.Here are some language functions you should practice with your students at this point. or is it? Now picture this: you are in a store and have a couple of items you like but the sizes and colors are not what you need or want. So this is one of the things our students have to learn. it is non negotiable.

Take a look at the examples.. Doing this makes the other person feel understood and avoids bringing the discussion to an end.. though negotiation is very common. This is when you repeat back what the person is saying. however. To help your students. They need to be clear on what they want out of the arrangement.. S: Ok. you negotiate everyday and more often than you can even imagine. Some people feel reluctant to find a compelling argument to convince others to do or not to do something. I understand where you are coming from but. everyone should confirm. SOME NEGOTIATIONS CAN BE TOUGH.Do We Have a Deal? Help Your ESL Student Negotiate in English NEGOTIATIONS ARE PRESENT IN OUR EVERYDAY LIFE. I am afraid that is out of the question. then dinner at a restaurant and to go to a party later on. preparing them will give them the self confidence they need to make the best deal. they will also need to research the counterpart to better understand what their needs are. Feel free to contact me anytime. students must understand that in any negotiation they’ll be lost if they rush in without the necessary preparation. but. An important language skill to build on at this point is echoing. Take a look at the following expressions.. Others.. kids.. However. The best way to approach negotiations is to find options that are beneficial to both parties. We can all learn to be better negotiators. They simply don’t like it.. reaching and agreement will be much harder. T: What I really want to do tomorrow is watch a movie then go out for a bite. so try to have a clear idea of what you want and what you are going to get. Some language skills needed at this point involve making concessions and also making counter offers. In life. Listening to other part while negotiating will enable students to make 20 the other person feel respected and as a consequence.. I see your point. Take a look at the negotiating strategies and ESL language functions below. 3 MUTUAL BENEFITS Negotiating shouldn’t be about winning and leaving a devastated opponent behind. there are certain types that don’t come as naturally to everyone alike. Ok so I’ll . Let’s keep in touch. 4 UNDERSTANDING COUNTER OFFERS Counter offers are a natural part of any negotiation.. In business negotiations. acknowledging objections is another very important point to keep in mind. Your students should understand that if this is what they expect... As you can imagine. it will build trust which is essential in any negotiation. What does the other party hope to get out of this? Why is this outcome important to them? What might happen if they don’t get what they are after? 2 LISTEN Listening is always important and in a negotiation it can go a long way. young or old. At this point. Negotiation is an art but not a secret. However. on the other hand. Many ESL teachers consider negotiation is a skill only business students should develop.. Your student should understand that they have to be prepared for counter offers from the other party when negotiating. . many negotiations have a lot riding on them. Take a look at some useful phrases you can teach your students. Great thanks for your time. In any case. So we will .. appropriate follow up e-mails should be sent .. and you .... if you. if you think about it. and you will. so after the recap. whether they have made a deal or not. I don’t think that we could go that far. A good way to practice this with your students is to read a short text to them and have them echo what you said. and even our students. the counterpart thinks the same way. They need to be ready to make concessions and to plan what these might be. so you want to go to a movie. It’s been a pleasure. are very willing to negotiate but are not very good at it.. No matter what your students will be negotiating. They should also be prepared to make them when they are negotiating. We were hoping for.. have them consider and practice answering the following questions. preparation is key. We do it with our spouses. They should never leave any loose ends. 5 CLOSE WITH CONFIRMATION All negotiations will come to an end whether an agreement is made or not. Maybe afterwards we can go to the party at Tina’s. There may be some room to manoeuvre.. At this point students should be aware that it is important to recap everything discussed in the meeting. PREPARE YOUR STUDENTS TO NEGOTIATE EFFECTIVELY 1 GET READY As in anything we do. Take a look at the example. It also gives people a good opportunity to make sure that there are no misunderstandings. siblings.

In the business world. Excuse me.. the discomfort can only rise. express something in a way that is misleading and right after that comes the uncomfortable silence. Let’s take a look at some of these uncomfortable scenarios. In any of these cases. It is simply a an extraordinarily polite way to ask someone to repeat their name. In different social encounters there is yet another difficult situation many people face. could you tell me your name again? This second option is a bit different. If you don’t mind. Again. Some are simply unaware their questions are too personal or private. As ESL teachers we need to provide our students with useful language functions to suit different situations. -.Did I say Jill? I meant to say Jane. Take a look at the examples: Student 1: So. There are many different kinds of awkward situations and fortunately there are great techniques to handle them. what we have to keep in mind as ESL teachers is that there are different techniques we can teach our students to help them get through this. Take a look at an example. Let’s take a look at a few.. specially those who don’t speak the language. this can become even more complicated. not understanding what others are saying is truly very common. 4 CLARIFYING WHAT YOU MEANT. you are Jill from the accounting department. 3 CHANGING THE SUBJECT. This first option is quite direct. actually I’m Jane from the accounting department. Let me try that again. right? -. We all know strong relationships are one of the most important factors for success. I’m sorry would you mind saying that again? Would you mind repeating that? Excuse me. could you please say that again? Excuse me. For ESL students. Either because the timing isn’t right or because you think it is downright inappropriate. CHECK OUT THESE 5 TIPS ON HOW TO HELP YOUR ESL STUDENTS HANDLE AWKWARD SITUATIONS 1 AVOIDING PERSONAL QUESTIONS Nosy people are everywhere.. That wasn’t what I wanted to say.Hi. how much do you make? Student 2: Not as much as I’d like but I guess can’t complain. What I was trying to say was. Student 1: Why did you get divorced? Student 2: Well. the technique you should teach your student is the same. Sometimes what we what to express doesn’t quite come out the way we intended it to. is it a good idea to say something? Is there a good time to do so? What if it is you who has caused the awkwardness? I guess we all ask ourselves these questions but when the people involved are from other countries. PRACTICE DIFFERENT SCENARIOS WITH THEM AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE READY BECAUSE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS TEND TO BE VERY UNPREDICTABLE. AND HANDLING THEM IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. managing them in a different language is much harder still. What I meant was. I didn’t catch that. I know we’ve met. by teaching your ESL students these useful expressions you can give them great tools to cope with comprehension issues. Let’s take a look at some handy expressions to handle this. This is great because they can manage the situation comfortably without being too direct about how they really feel. 2 I FORGOT YOUR NAME Remembering people’s names is extremely important if you want to build strong relationships in life.Hello. -. What should you do in this type of situation? When other people are involved. I’d rather not talk about that. REMEMBER TO TELL YOUR STUDENTS THAT IN ANY AWKWARD SITUATION THE OBJECTIVE IS TO MANAGE AND CONTROL THE SITUATION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 5 YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. Whether they are innocent or like to gossip. Let them know they can answer questions without actually answering them. I don’t thinks this is a good time to discuss that. I’d rather not talk about that now. Sometimes it is simply a good idea to change the subject.. There are topics we all want to avoid.. let’s just say my ex husband and I didn’t have a lot in common. We say the wrong thing or 21 . and that it is exactly what you are going to practice with your students. who hasn’t forgotten someone’s name at some point. However. The good news is that it is possible to make things right again.5 Nifty Tips on How to Help Students Handle Awkward Situations LIFE IS FULL OF AWKWARD SITUATIONS. This is a very common situation and it is much more uncomfortable for those who forget than for those whose name was forgotten. Others do it intentionally to get the dirt on others. But.

Each group should make a comprehensive list of all the vehicle parts they labeled on their diagrams. They should walk their bicycle through intersections. All kinds of vehicles make noises that are represented with English words. . zoom and chug represent sounds that have all become English words. a new approach to a classic ESL unit. Then. If he gets it wrong. brainstorm as many different types of transportation as possible. he hits the buzzer. Sometimes. put them into groups of about four to share what they have discovered.Moving Right Along: 4 Fresh Activities for Teaching Transportation TRANSPORTATION IS A COMMON SUBJECT IN ESL CLASSES. If he is right. For example. spokes. As they write their safety precautions. The first one to hit it gets a chance to answer. 22 cardboard tubes and other craft supplies. choo-choo. (Students can decorate them with scraps of paper. This is also a good opportunity to review syllables and word stress as your students follow the haiku format. and have each team use a large cardboard box to make some type of vehicle.) Then use masking tape or pieces of construction paper taped to the floor to create a life sized game board. Not only does a unit on transportation have practical applications. assign each a number. Let students check their answers with a partner and then clear up any that are still stumping your students. Challenge your students to choose one type of transportation and write a haiku using at least two words from your onomatopoeia list. You might want to have students use these words to write a poem about travel. Once students complete their diagrams. Even better. he rolls a six sided die and moves his team’s vehicle that many spaces. It will challenge your students and take what they are learning about trains. like vacationing in a foreign country. CHECK SOME NEW IDEAS TO TEACH ABOUT TRANSPORT 1 SAFETY FIRST Different modes of transportation have different rules for being safe. though. seat and reflectors. If you like. rolls the die and advances. As they research. when riding a bicycle. most ESL students who study in English speaking countries have experienced many types of travel just to enter their program. students and teachers alike want something different. and then share them with your class. Each round. When something different is what you are in the mood for. For example. (You can find other examples here: bit. getting creative with a transportation reinvention or talking about unique sound words and poetry. With your students. You can either post the safety measures or read them to the rest of the class. and they should not let another person ride on the bike with them. CHALLENGING YOUR STUDENTS TO GIVE DIRECTIONS FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER OR MAKING CONDITIONAL SENTENCES ABOUT PLACES THEY WOULD LIKE TO VISIT ARE GREAT ACTIVITIES THAT TIE INTO A UNIT ON TRANSPORTATION. If a student knows the answer. Sounds like vroom. You should tape a red construction paper circle to the center of the desk to serve as the “buzzer”. the second to the buzzer answers. This is a good activity to use for homework or during a free study period. someone should wear a helmet and reflective clothing. planes and automobiles to a new experience. they should number them one through five but not write on their paper what mode of travel they are talking about. Then brainstorm a list of English onomatopoeia related to vehicles and travel. Have them number their papers and write what method of travel they think each list describes. making a life sized game board. Practice a current grammar topic or review ones you have already covered by asking a fill in the blank question. Now your students have a chance to get creative. try talking about vehicle safety with your students. and five syllables in three separate lines. Start by brainstorming with your class all the possible modes of transportation. your students should create a diagram of their mode of transportation and label several of its parts. Words like woof. This is why a dog says woof woof in English and wang wang in Korean. skateboards to space Students of foreign languages will soon learn that even though onomatopoeia is a representation of a sound in real life. 2 GRAMMAR RACE Do you want to stir up some competition among your students? Have a grammar race as part of your transportation unit. Have students follow up by writing a paragraph describing the additions they would make to their vehicle and why. Your list should include everything from hot air balloons to mopeds. 4 DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR A transportation unit is a great opportunity to talk about onomatopoeia in English. A haiku is a simple poetry structure of five syllables. have students illustrate their haikus and display them on a bulletin board in your classroom. 3 VEHICLE VOCABULARY A transportation unit is a good opportunity to teach some vocabulary that might not otherwise come up in class. ding and thump fall into this category. then have your students choose one mode of transportation from the list. seven syllables. toot-toot. have each student choose a different vehicle as the topic for some personal research. not all languages transcribe those sounds alike. The first team to the end of the game board is the winner. Give your students a chance to talk about their home countries and language by asking them what noises different vehicles make in their native languages. Each person should choose at least three components from the comprehensive list that he would add to his original vehicle that were not already part of his vehicle. honk. A person who diagramed a bicycle might label handle bars. Divide your class into teams of around five students each (try not to have more than four teams). They should obey traffic laws. one player from each team comes to the front of the class and stands at one corner of a student desk. Ask them to write five ways to be safe when travelling that way. Collect everyone’s paper. The other students should try to guess what travel method the writer was describing when he wrote his five safety measures. ask a grammatical question that ties into the transportation theme. wheels. Onomatopoeia is a category of words that represent an actual sound. safety precautions for riding a bicycle are very different for those for flying in a plane. He should make a new diagram which shows the three additions to the vehicle.

you may tell the teller to veer away from the scripts after a while so the student is required to react spontaneously in English. If possible. Then have them take turns going to the tellers and making a transaction. It is very important that students become comfortable filling out forms in English as they may need to do so at a time when no assistance for them is available. From filling out forms to reading bank statements to having a conversation with a bank teller. they should have someone who is willing to work with you. you may want to have someone from a bank who speaks the language of the majority of your students to explain exactly how banking works when you start this topic. This visit would be a great conclusion to this topic. these strategies will help your students navigate the banking system using English. Set up your classroom to look like a bank. most banks are looking to connect with the community. let the students do some mock transactions with the representative. It will definitely make the students more successful in their personal banking endeavors. Introduce some short scripts to your students to help them know what to say. It is a valuable skill. Let them know that you have covered the topic of banking and would like to bring your ESL students in to practice their skills. you may want to briefly explain about the history of banking where you are (about the FDIC if you are in the United States) to help those students understand the precautions that are in place. Banking is one of those ESL topics which. Ask if your students can have a tour of the places in the bank where they are permitted. 23 . Have them practice those scripts together.You Can Bank on it: 5 Strategies to Teach the How-To’s of Banking BANKING IS A VERY IMPORTANT SUBJECT FOR ADULT ENGLISH LEARNERS. show them how to approach and interact with the teller appropriately. This will be discussed at the end of this article. 2 FIRST THING’S FIRST As with any new topic. This independent functioning in English is. so you will most likely be able to find someone to do so enthusiastically. it would be wise to have as many authentic materials as possible. checking and savings deposit slips and a blank check (please do not use a real account number. while others may not trust the banking system to safeguard their money. have the students share how they felt doing the role plays. look for a virtual tour or video online that would give your students a look at being inside a bank to increase their comfort level. With the more advanced students. with stations for tellers. BANKING IS A VERY IMPORTANT SKILL FOR EVERY ESL STUDENT. and a debit card. You will want to have ahead of time: a form to apply for a bank account. The representative from the bank will probably be happy to speak with them and if it is not too busy a time. along with a list of fake names. 3 FILLING OUT THE FORMS The next step would be to practice filling out the various forms necessary when banking. such as a checkbook. you will have to make a check). The strategies in this article will help you to start teaching about banking to your students. you will want to find out your class’s experience with banking in their native country and in their current one. the goal of every ESL teacher. Some students may be very comfortable using a bank. it would be great if that person could allow your class to visit the bank. what their strengths were. Contact your local bank and explain what you are doing. clear print so they can easily see it. Demonstrate filling out these forms. you will need to lay the groundwork by cover- ing basic banking terminology. Provide students with samples of these forms. Begin by demonstrating how to fill out the proper paperwork as you arrive at the bank. then get in touch with that person again to arrange a visit. checking for any major errors and trying to correct them in the beginning. As this is such a “real-world” topic. If necessary and possible. Review pronunciation as you go along. and if possible visiting a bank. Banks are often eager to form bonds in the community. will certainly assist your students in becoming the confident banking customers they can be. After covering these activities. They can let you know a time that will work for the both of you. addresses and other necessary information so they may use it to practice filling in the forms. checking and savings withdrawal and deposit slips. will make the student more independent. as stated in the beginning of the article. If you have made that contact in a bilingual person from a neighborhood bank. and what they thought they could improve on. and what they may need to open a bank account. once conquered. Afterwards. 5 PAY A VISIT The ultimate culmination to the topic of banking would be to take your students on a trip to the bank. If not. Even if they do not have a community liaison. have several volunteers act as tellers in those spots. Next. If applicable. The amount of vocabulary words you will introduce at this time will depend on the level of your class. of course. It is a challenge to manage one’s money when the business is being conducted in a language you are still learning. Introduce the terms which you feel are most important for the group you have by showing them the item and having the name of the item in large. If you cannot arrange a visit. That person can speak in whatever language necessary to explain the reason why using a bank may be a good choice. Moving through them. 4 BRING ON THE ACTION You want your students to feel comfortable doing banking before they actually go into a bank. HELP ESL STUDENTS GET COMFORTABLE USING BANKING PROCEDURES 1 YOU CAN BANK ON BANKING To start a discussion about banking.

You will need to prepare some short scripts in- volving a child asking a parent for a pet. At the end of the pet survey. have a picture of the service animal in action. You will need large cards that each have one way that a service animal assists humans. Be sure to bring in pictures of your own pet or a pet you would like to have. this graph could be used for teaching “the most. and some may not have them. Be sure to have some extra pictures on hand for those who do not bring a picture in with them. TEACH ABOUT PETS IN A GREAT WAY 1 PET SURVEY Begin by talking to the class about pets. you can move on to taking the survey. make sure the class knows the two possible final responses: “Yes. Each student needs one or two of these cards. “What is Maria’s pet?” They should answer. Introduce possession by bringing up a willing student and his picture. and this in turn leads to increased oral communication. each on small cards. they may say. its name and a couple of its usual ways to assist humans. The more comfortable they are with you. 2 PICTURE PERFECT PETS! This activity would be a great follow-up to the pet survey above. giving their rationale. Chances are many of your students did the same. Teach the cards in groups of three. Either way. reviewing periodically as you go along. Allow them to draw the pet for you if they do not have the vocabulary word for it. Keep these cards on display. to walk it.” This lesson could also be used to teach possessive pronouns: “What is his pet?” “His pet is a bird. and writing on the board. 4 AT YOUR SERVICE Service animals can be another take on the pet topic for students learning English. 5 DREAM PET This activity works well with younger children. Explain to them that there are some animals who work every day to help people in need. Either way.” “the least.” This activity promotes forming relationships among the students. Add any of these extra pets to the graph. Building these relationships increases confidence. For the first few.” The kinesthetic movement in this activity will keep everyone moving and smiling. you may want to take this opportunity to teach “survey” as a vocabulary word. Either way. Remember asking your parents for a pet as a child? You promised to take care of it all on your own. It may also cause some laughter as the “parent” says “yes” or “no. You may use the graph to have a lively class discussion about pets in general.” or “No.e. I PROMISE! Role playing is a great way to encourage oral communication in a supportive environment. Be sure to show large cards with pictures of various common pets and the name of each pet printed on the card. Hold up one of these cards. Rover: 5 Easy Ways to Teach about Pets EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO TALK ABOUT PETS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. you may not have a pet. An interesting question would be if there are pets that are popular in their country of origin that are not as popular here.” “more than.” or “less than” in a class discussion about how many pets there are. most will be familiar with the scenario of asking for a pet.” After a few totally scripted role plays.” After doing this several times. call out the name of each pet and have the students raise their hands if they have or have had that pet. and the adult students who have their own children may now be on the other end of the request. When the students seem to be familiar with the names of the pets. have the response scripted.Roll Over. If they do not have a pet. Depending on the level of the class. Then ask if anyone has another type of pet that you have not yet mentioned. If they are beginnings. tell them they can bring in a picture of a pet they would like to have. it is a topic that needs to be covered in ESL class. If the group is intermediate or advanced. ask the class as a whole. but certainly may need to talk about them in everyday conversation. Class discussion on a high interest topic can help students lose 24 their inhibitions because they are so focused on communicating that they stop worrying about making mistakes. Read this article to learn about five fun ways to teach about pets. “_____________’s pet is a __________.” Have them take turns coming up and each time have the class repeat after you. In a more advanced class. This student involvement makes the activity higher interest and will encourage students to participate.” which lowers student stress levels and encourages speaking as well. “__________’s (name) pet is a dog. you may have a pet. opening doors or alerting them to the doorbell. do not worry about the term “survey. “A service dog alerts the human to a doorbell. i. have some in which you provide the entire script except for the parent’s final decision. and have all students who have the card for any service animal that performs that service to stand up and name their animal. Allow the student who plays the parent to make the choice. ask the students if they would bring in pictures of their pets for the next class. As times goes on. to feed it and so on. “Maria’s pet is a cat. Make a graph with tally marks on the board that reflects their answers. Using large cards like you did when you first introduced the topic of pets. Let your students get to know you. Some students may have pets. the more likely they are to speak aloud. 3 I’LL TAKE CARE OF IT. but older children and adults will enjoy getting creative . You will also need several small pictures of the service animals. Begin by starting a discussion among the students about what types of activities our pets usually do.” Just explain that you will be asking some questions.

All of these activities promote oral communication in some form. pairs of scissors and glue well. Using the materials you have assembled. Take on the topic of pets to start some engaging conversation in your class now! 25 . High interest leads to the desire to communicate. while having fun. for example the head of a fish. You will need to have copies of coloring pages of various pets. Explain that today. Some of your more artistic students may choose to draw the entire creature. colored pencils and/or markers on hand for this activity. They can decorate these creations. Start by reviewing the types of pets which you have discussed. which is important at any age or level. Students may share their creations with others. TEACHING ABOUT PETS CAN BE A LOT OF FUN BECAUSE MANY STUDENTS CAN MAKE A PERSONAL CONNECTION WITH THE TOPIC. the middle of another and the bottom of a third to make their own personalized pet. which promotes that oral communication that is so helpful when learning English. the students can take the head portion of one pet. as well as plenty of drawing paper and crayons. Begin by discussing with the students the pros and cons of having different types of pets. the ultimate goal of an ESL class. Working on high interest topics is what you strive for in the ESL classroom. they can take what they like from each pet and “make” their own. They can name it if they’d like. body of a lizard and feet of a cat.

Show students a sample form (some hospital admittance forms can be found online) and fill it out in front of them to demonstrate what each part means. students will be paired up and given one or two empty containers with labels. The more comfortable the students are. Be sure to keep track of the containers you gave out and make sure they are returned to you at the end of class. For verbs.” “toxic. you may have volunteers read certain parts of their forms aloud to reinforce what they learned. which could speed up the process. Make sure to emphasize the importance of dialing 9-1-1 for all emergencies. You may also act out the verbs as well. Also have ready some sample information. the person may want to speak in that language for some part of their presentation. . Students should feel comfortable with these terms before you proceed with the rest of the activities. keeping everyone safe is the overall goal. The following activities will help you teach your students how to report emergencies in English. Accidents may occur because a person cannot read the label of a cleaning solution or medication in English. be sure to circulate and answer any questions they may have. IT CAN BE A CHALLENGE FOR YOUR STUDENTS. This presentation is the start of a relationship between the student and the community at large. Have students start by practicing with you. Using authentic materials such as the hospital admittance form and have a community member come and speak to your class are some ways to keep it real for your students. These are real situations that they may be involved in at any time. there are many forms to be filled out. this activity works better if done after a lesson about addresses and phone numbers.” These terms need to be taught with pictures. past medical history. This community member could reinforce the basics needed to deal with an emergency in English.Somebody Call 911: Activities for Teaching about Emergencies ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS NEED TO KNOW HOW TO REPORT EMERGENCIES. they could also model the scripts and then work with pairs of students. Check to see if they have some information in any of the native languages of your students. “I speak __________ (the student’s native language). for example a police officer. You may want to research and see if there is an appropriate community member who is bilingual in a language that is a primary native one for your students. When everyone is done. A couple of these activities suggest finding materials or people who speak your students’ native language. the students will share the terms they found with the rest of the class. you will need to find a picture that shows the action. 26 3 LABEL IT This activity is best suited for adults. be sure to review the meanings of the various terms. The script may include. which may sound strange for an ESL class. CONSIDER USING THESE ACTIVITIES FOR REPORTING EMERGENCIES 1 PICTURE THIS First. Many ESL students are new to the community. During this time. the more likely they are to speak aloud. As they are filling out the forms. address. if possible. To do this activity. reviewing as you go. but others may choose to use your information to protect their privacy. and then have them work in pairs on these scripts. Using the above activities. When everyone is done. While teaching English is the primary goal. BUT IT IS ONE YOU CAN HELP THEM OVERCOME. 5 INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY A great option for a follow-up lesson on emergencies is to invite someone from the community to speak. NO MATTER WHAT THEIR ABILITY LEVEL. so it is good that they are getting prepared now. In a beginner’s class. insurance information and so on. Teach these words a few at a time. You may want to give out information about the Poison Control Center. and this trust building is very important in raising their comfort level. Choose the vocabulary words you feel are most important. Students must learn common phrasing on a bottle of cleaning fluid which may include the words “warning. no matter what the language.” or “Do not mix with _________. 2 INFO. your students must have the necessary vocabulary to talk about emergencies. These forms require personal information including where you live. After introducing the terms. PLEASE Use role-playing to help students practice what to do in case of an emergency. medical history and insurance information. Therefore. This could be helpful in the event that there is a dispatcher who also speaks that language. KNOWING WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY IS IMPORTANT FOR EVERYONE. Students will take a highlighter and highlight all of the terms they just learned on their containers. Talk about how there are forms that will need to be filled out. which is our goal. Everyone can learn enough to be able to report the most necessary information. 4 IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FORM When visiting the emergency room. It can be overwhelming as an English language learner if you need to fill out these forms at the same time you or a loved one is in distress because of an emergency. so that students will be ready to give their address and phone numbers aloud during the script reading. If you have volunteers in your classroom. and find pictures of them. you are sure to help them feel more comfortable in using English to deal with emergencies. Have some short scripts involving reporting a fire or a car accident. a doctor or a nurse. such as a name. an EMT. it is important to teach about emergencies even in a beginner’s class. Start this activity by talking about the emergency room and key vocabulary words. Then give each student a blank form. This is because some students may prefer using their own information on the form in order to practice for themselves. It would be wise to discuss keeping all these products out of the reach of children. you will need to collect empty cleaning solution bottles as well as empty medication containers with labels. Make the pictures large and write the word under the picture clearly. If this is the case.

Students may then break into pairs and do a worksheet you have prepared to continue with the same activity. You will need a map key to tell what each of the settings is. you teach. he/she teaches. you will need to have large pictures of the typical settings of each job. “A doctor works in a hospital. police officer). How in-depth you go with types of jobs will be determined by the level and interests of your students. you may want to cover the basic community helpers and branch out into the popular local jobs to help them as they go out into the work force. To do this. tell the students to pick their dream job. To do this. Regardless of the population. you will want them to be able to describe what it is that the job entails. Younger children will need the vocabulary to have conversations and be able to express their interest. now would be a good time to use them. 27 . have them name some dream jobs: actor. show the workers (the cut outs) in their correct settings. TEACH ABOUT OCCUPATIONS USING PRACTICAL IDEAS 1 START AT THE BEGINNING First. and so on. Make sure they are verbalizing the sentences as they make the matches. you may want to review the basic occupations they will need for everyday conversation (teacher. For example. doctor. The following activities will help your students learn these terms and use them well. STUDENTS WILL USE THESE TERMS IN EVERYDAY LIFE. begin with large pictures clearly labeled with the name of the occupation. 3 GOING PLACES The next idea you will want to teach is where these people work. you would have a picture of a classroom for a teacher. If feasible. Give them a worksheet to fill in which talks about why they would want that job. If you are teaching younger children. “Where does a doctor work?” The student who puts the worker in the right setting should respond. Older children and adults will need to actually use these terms in the workplace. for example a hospital or a school on it. you may take this as an opportunity to actually teach conjugation of verbs. mail carrier). Then remove them from their settings and have students come up and put them in their right places. You will need a simple map with a grid of city blocks which are labeled. you can ask. but you may also want to focus on more specialized positions that commonly occur in their field(s).” Repeat this exercise as necessary as long as it holds their interest. You can start by ask- ing students to point to the place where a doctor works. and so on. 5 DREAM BIG This activity should be a follow-up to the basic occupation activities or be used for a more advanced class. like the school. Letting the students know a bit about you personally strengthens your relationship with them which helps them be more confident in speaking aloud and sharing their own thoughts. To introduce the concept. have the students start at a certain place on the map. Start the activity by telling the students what your dream job is. for example: “A teacher teaches. making sure the class is picking up on proper pronunciation. where they would work. Then have them go two blocks north and do the same. After you have done this. you can use this to review conjugation of verbs.” and so on. Teach the names of the settings. review the jobs you have just covered. 2 BRING ON THE ACTION After your students have a good handle on the basic occupations you want to cover. talk about some steps a student could take to get their dream job. so it is a great topic to address with your students as they continue to improve their English. you will need to cover the verbs that pair with each occupation. Have the students share their dream jobs. you may want to stick with community helpers (firefighter. you will want to keep it to third person singular. Tell them they may draw a picture of themselves doing that job if they would like on the paper. If you are teaching beginner adults who tend to work in certain fields where they live. If it is a beginner’s class. They may need to use it as they go on job interviews and go out into the workforce.Great Work: 5 Basic Activities to Teach about Occupations BEING ABLE TO TALK ABOUT JOBS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ESL STUDENTS. Whatever the case. Explain why. You also need cut outs of the various occupations you have covered. When holding up a new worker. Do this several times with several occupations. In other words. This map needs to have at least five of the settings you introduced in the last activity. You can also have a matching worksheet with these pictures for them to do in pairs for reinforcement. LEARNING ABOUT OCCUPATIONS IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE REGARDLESS OF AGE OR LEVEL. if necessary. where you would like to work. what would be the best part of that job and so on. Next. Talk about why some people want those jobs. By the same token.” If it is a more advanced class. 4 THE RIGHT DIRECTION You may use this activity as a follow-up to a lesson on cardinal directions or you may use it to teach cardinal directions in this context. you will need to teach your students the names of various common occupations. If you have volunteers in your class. NO MATTER WHAT THEIR LEVEL OR SITUATION. Now introduce the verbs. Review as you go. Make sure they are verbalizing what they find and not just pointing as they did to start. Occupations are often what allow us to go further in life. Tell them to go three blocks east and tell you who works there. all ESL students will need to be able to discuss occupations. If you are teaching a group of business people who have a working knowledge of English. as it requires some writing. such as “I teach. depending on your class. Next. astronaut and so on.

The first one involves actually giving the script to the students so that they can practice it. When it is their turn. you and your class could take a trip to a local laundromat and put your vocabulary skills to use. It certainly is an important part of learning English. Then you can pick volunteers to act out that script using possible scenarios in a laundromat or purchasing laundry supplies. Include verbs such as “fold. hand out “emergency” cards face down to each student. PARTICULARLY ADULTS. When it is fairly clear that most students are able to use the vocabulary with some prompting. they can put it into practice. important. it may be worth it to make them so ahead of time for the class’s sake. it is fun to include some of these English idioms: bit. Finally. Show your examples and teach the vocabulary first. Have pictures with labels to teach everyone this vocabulary to start. Depending on your situation. and you may want to ask friends and neighbors to loan you their laundry baskets for the day as well. it may be possible to just give them a scenario and have them act it out. you may want to put the short script up on the board and have the whole class practice in unison. It would be great if you could communicate ahead of time with the supervisor there so that some of the employees there could talk to the students and help them use their vocabulary while on–site. where it is likely they will meet others who speak English and will need this vocabulary to communicate. you’ll want some clothing and laundry baskets. 3 ROLE PLAYING Role playing is very important when anyone is learning a new language. TEACH YOUR STUDENTS ABOUT LAUNDRY USING NEW IDEAS 1 SHOW ME THE LAUNDRY! The best way to teach laundry vocabulary is to set up a laundromat in your classroom — and don’t worry. This activity will be enjoyable and will likely get some laughs. students will enjoy themselves as this activity is bound to cause some laughter along the way. All of the students who took the trip will definitely remember it. It is similar to charades. 4 TEACHING IDIOMS For a more advanced class on laundry. 5 VISITING A LAUNDROMAT Optimally. That is why you would first teach the basic laundry vocabulary and scenarios. that may actually be possible. Again.” “pour” and “measure. and therefore remember the related vocabulary.” or “washing your hands of the situation. similar to improvisation techniques. There are a couple of different levels of role playing. Include all nouns such as the detergents. If the students take a trip and already have the vocabulary down. The other students will take turns guessing what the term is. be sure to do it as a follow-up to an initial class on laundry terms. Again. Finally.” and adjectives such as “wrinkled” and “clean. 2 LAUNDRY EMERGENCY! As we all know. Bringing in a shirt with bleach stains all over it and then giving them the printed and oral vocabulary for it is much more effective than just looking at the words on a page.Clean It Up: 5 Activities for Teaching about Laundry ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS ESL STUDENTS. The multisensory experience of having the bottle and then pretending to pour the detergent in while using the vocabulary is going to help the students retain these words. you may give them one or two cards each. Once those are understood. and have fun teaching laundry! . A higher level would be to give out the scripts and not go over them first. and need to be able to ask for help with them when necessary. or turn your white t-shirt pink. This pertains especially to routines in which they may encounter others who only speak English. of course. WANT TO LEARN IS THE VOCABULARY FOR EVERYDAY ROUTINES. you don’t have to actually go out and get a Maytag! You’d be surprised what a big piece of cardboard decorated to look like a washing machine and another decorated to look like a dryer can do. Some people may do theirs in a laundromat. Have the students take turns doing the same. Taking a trip to the laundromat and putting that vocabulary to use would be the best way to ingrain it in their minds. TEACHING ABOUT EVERYDAY CHORES SUCH AS LAUNDRY CAN BE TEDIOUS. Even those who do their laundry at home need to buy the supplies. for a more advanced group. One of these routines is doing laundry. the machines and forms of payment. BUT AS YOU CAN SEE IN THIS ARTICLE IT CAN ALSO BE FUN. Understanding the literal meaning of the idiom is. bad things sometimes happen to good laundry. but they are using the target vocabulary. 28 using the vocabulary as you do it. If you or your friends do not have any of these items on hand.” Some examples would be “airing your dirty laundry. You may ask students to bring in two articles of clothing and have some of your own as a backup. as that would probably be challenging for many students and somewhat waste your time on the trip. but allow the students to read from the scripts as they act out the scene. Depending on the number of students in your class. It allows them to practice without the pressure of actually being out in public and using English.” Knowing idioms always helps the advanced learner to sound more like a native speaker. English learners want and need to know how to express these issues as well. begin to go through the motions of doing laundry. of course. You can even cut them out of card stock and label them debit cards. If it is. They do not have to come up with the wording on their own. it is key to bring in actual items that have these problems. In addition. You may get bleach stains. the student must act out (using the props you have brought) what the laundry emergency is. but you are using the props to aid in understanding. shrink something in the dryer. it would be great to include English idioms that use the words “wash” or “laundry.” With a student or a volunteer. have friends and neighbors save empty laundry detergent and fabric softener containers for you so that you have enough for everyone in the class. as well as instill the vocabulary for doing laundry in their memory. When first starting this. Laundry Emergency is an activity you can do with them to teach the vocabulary for these cases. Show them the picture and have them repeat your More advanced learners will appreciate knowing them and being able to use them in various everyday situations. Remember to include as many hands-on activities as possible. Do not try to teach the terms as you are there. You’re also going to want some fake debit cards. You’ll have to do that ahead of time.

8 LAST ONE STANDING Stand with the class in a circle. Your lists will vary depending on where you live. and a bell or some type of noisemakers for each team. Grammy and so on. grandfather and any other title you are going to include. Divide them into two groups of five. reviewing as you go along to make sure the students are picking up the pronunciation and meaning of the words. 3 WHAT’S IN A NAME? This activity will help your students to learn the many different titles there are in English for various family members. depending on your class size) to participate. You will need to make these cards. his team gets the point. Start by explaining that there are many names that various family members go by in English. 4 IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY Your students will want to know the vocabulary to talk about their extended family as well. 5 HOW CAN YOU COMPARE? The topic of family can be a good time to introduce comparisons. You will need a large ball to play this game. one member from each team comes up to you. and then the others will need to decide if it is true or false. Statements like. and the first one to ring their bell gets to answer. Begin by saying the title of a family member and throwing the ball to a student. Make several columns: one each for mother. You will need to make a worksheet that is a smaller version of the family tree you presented in the last activity with the pictures in it. the opposing member gets a chance to answer it. grandmother. The first team to get ten points wins. For example. father. Have them each name their team. Nana. brothers. that student must say a different title of a family member. and then immediately throw the ball to another student. This game can become competitive and is fun for the students. 7 FAMILY FEUD Choose ten people (or a more appropriate number for you. Do this on card stock and/or laminate them if possible to make them more like playing cards. For each question. ESL students need to have the vocabulary and background to talk about their families as well. and have students come up with similar statements. You will need to have questions prepared where the answers are the vocabulary terms from the family tree. Afterwards. Grandmother. Then take cards down. and have them guess in which column they should go. grandparents.It’s All Relative: 10 Ways to Teach about Family NO MATTER WHAT. you may want to have students come up with statements that may or may not be true of the pictures. Make a blank grid about the size of playing cards. You will need a large family tree. but leave the titles blank. take off the titles and have students try to put them in the right spots. Use the activities below to have them chatting all about their relatives in no time! CHAT ABOUT RELATIVES USING THESE FRESH ACTIVITIES 1 CLIMBING THE FAMILY TREE Introducing the vocabulary to talk about family is the most important. Now make two copies of this for each deck of cards you want to make. EVERYONE NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT FAMILY. Take the titles and pictures from your original family tree (add the extended members if possible — if you think that is too advanced for your class. That student in turn must throw to another who gives yet another family member title. uncles and cousins. introduce a cut and paste activity. This continues at a rapid pace until there is just one student left. The rules for Go Fish can easily be found by doing an internet search. father. start with a review of the family tree. illustrating mother. For a more advanced class. 2 CUT TO THE CHASE To reinforce the family vocabulary. As soon as he catches it. If he is wrong. You can show them the relationships on the tree and label them as such. Have various pictures of families available. just take them out as necessary). You will need to go over the family tree slowly and clearly. sisters. You ask the question. After that. Titles such as stepmother and father-in-law are necessary for everyday conversation. teach the word “than” before starting this activity as well. When teaching about family.” He must leave the circle. and have students place the cards in the correct columns on their own.” or “My grandmother is shorter than my cousin. children. If necessary. This continues until a student catches the ball and cannot immediately think of a family member title. Show students the alternate titles on cards. aunts. That student is the win- 29 . 6 GO FISH Another way to reinforce the titles of family members is to play Go Fish with family cards. Have students volunteer to read the titles to review pronunciation of the family words. Put all the titles on a separate page. it is easiest to teach it with a family tree. Present this vocabulary with your family tree again. “My brother is older than me. grandchildren. Have the students cut out the titles and place them in the correct positions. and put one on each “card” on your grid. correcting them as necessary. If that person is right. Discuss as you go. Each branch should have a picture and the title of the person clearly written. and that student is then “out. a grandmother can be called: Grandma. This could also be a great time to review the original family tree vocabulary.” are good examples of this.

Once they have guessed their title. You show the first student the picture and title of a family member. This game is a lot of fun. and another student from the class sits there and describes. and another sits in a chair directly behind him. he gets to face the board in the hot seat. LEARNING ABOUT FAMILY IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR AN ESL STUDENT. 10 FAMILY REUNION This activity is for students who are able to ask simple questions of each other. 9 HOT SEAT In this game. they can move it to their front so everyone knows that they know who they are. The above activities will help your students to be able to say what they need to say about their families in everyday conversation. with items labeled (such as pretzels) that have not yet been covered in class. Students of all ages enjoy this fast-paced game. he is out. This is a fun activity which can be a culmination to the topic of family. When the student with his back to the class guesses the title. They will need to talk about it every day for a variety of reasons. The students will talk to each other.ner. The classroom should be set up like a party. the students should interact at the reunion in character. When everyone has guessed their family member. trying to figure out what name is on their back from the questions they ask one another. Each student should be assigned a family member and wear that title on his back. and allows students to use their language skills from previous lessons when giving a description. The rest watch until it is their turn. and another student is chosen to be the one who guesses. they are either a grandmother or a grandfather. For example. If the first student accidentally names the title. one student sits in a chair facing the board. “Do I have grandchildren?” If the answer is yes. and that student must describe the family member to the second student without actually naming the title. 30 .

Create a tongue twister for this one and have them repeat it 10 times. Instead of translating what the measurements are into the metric system. or another similarly globalized food they know. but converting foods into very small pieces. and they will have a visual of the words connected to their sizes. Those hunters are skimming from the top of the water of their neighbors. Ask. even if they do not know what paring or a pie is. and its spelling and pronunciation will confuse learners. AND THEIR ANTIQUATED MEASUREMENTS AND ONOMATOPOEIA WORDS HAVE INFILTRATED THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND TAKEN ON ADDITIONAL MEANINGS IN EVERY DAY SPEECH AS WELL. You want to show how it is not chopping or cutting. 7 DASHES AND PINCHES These mean the same in cooking. Then compare it to how we use the term poaching to reference killing animals illegally from someone else’s land. a hyphen. Write a sentence on the board with a dash. and measurements that come from American cooking terms can be challenging for the EFL teacher as a result. and then tell them what a pie is! Do the same for 10 terms that couple common kitchen and cooking items with a special term. and put a teaspoon in a mug. BUT THEY CAN ALSO BE A FUN AND INTERACTIVE WAY TO GET STUDENTS TO THINK ABOUT ENGLISH AND ITS ROOTS AND INGRAIN THAT VOCABULARY IN A MORE PROFOUND WAY. This is not easy to understand because batter for fried chicken is very different from batter for chocolate cake! The common connection between the two is that they are bases for a finished product that has to be cooked. The best way to teach them is show from where they derived! Hence here are 10 demonstrative and visual ways to show the meaning of cooking-derived terminology for EFL learners. garlic. Hence. Both batters are gooey preparatory steps to a finished product. We call that browning as well in English. Teach them to make spaghetti sauce. browning (meat) will have a connotation in their minds of sun tanning! 2 BATTER IT UP Batter is important to teach students because it pops up in a number of different common idioms and clichés. or quasi-stealing. Pure puree promises no pulp. In cooking. like a cake. Explaining terminology. when we “batter it up”. compare it to sunning oneself and getting a tan. “What is a plate?” and then “What kind of special food would you put on a plate?” Have them list all of the special foods that deserve their own plate. AND PARING KNIFE What about all those other terms that came from special foods cooked in America or Britain? Make an activity where they look for clues in the word phrase to understand the meaning. Their minds will naturally translate what the measurement equivalent is in metric much better than an equation. Sauté onions. 9 TABLESPOONS VS. instead of a quick running spurt. and add it to your pot or bowl! It will put a visual in students’ minds of taking a little bit and pinching it into your cooking. and both result in the same comprehension. we are getting something ready to go in the oven. bring three bananas. Explain. 4 MINCING This is another verb referenced often in idioms. Put a tablespoon on a table next to a plate if you can. four quarts. and have one whole. Mimic lounging in a beach or pool chair in the sun and browning your skin. Hence put both images in their minds: beating cake batter and slopping batter on chicken. or tape the dash in between the words if you can. For example. You can also have a fruit prepared in three different ways. Have them literally feel the different textures. It is possible that brown meant more like tan in the past. For this term. and teaspoons are small because you only need a small spoon to stir your “tea”. one cut into minced squares. You are really tanning. and four gallons available and pour water to fill each and show the quantities. QUARTS. Translate it as “skimming from the top”. CHEESECLOTH. Then literally pinch it out of the sentence with your fingers. TEASPOONS It can be a challenge to remember the difference between the big one and the small one. The connotation to sauce will help them remember the word and the technique. Cut garlic or another vegetable into nearly pulverized squares! Be very demonstrative with this one: bring a big knife. tablespoons are big because you want a big spoon on the “table” next to your plate. GALLONS Four cups makes a quart and four quarts makes a gallon. to be finished. but now it means burnt. So. and tomatoes to make sauce. IDIOMS AND SPECIAL WORDS CAN BE CHALLENGING FOR EFL LEARNERS. 8 CUPS. and then one completely pureed into a smooth sauce. but it is confusing as they have different meanings in other contexts! Explain dash in its meaning of a punctuation mark. 6 PUREE Similarly.10 Baste and Batter Basics: Translating American Cooking Terms AMERICANS HAVE A VERY UNIQUE WAY OF DESCRIBING COOKING TERMINOLOGY. Link it to sauce because the words are so similar. have four cups. 3 POACHING Poaching is referenced often in English idioms. for example. 5 SAUTÉ Explaining sautéing can be challenging because it is not really an English word. it refers to a generally flour based liquid that either coats something or is the base for something. expressions. Demonstrative activities in the class are a great way to break up intense grammar sessions or other learning as well! 31 . PRESENT AMERICAN COOKING-DERIVED TERMINOLOGY 1 BROWNING You generally do not really want to turn food brown when you brown! This is very confusing for EFL learners. with a big spoon or spatula. puree comes from a foreign language. Then ask them to think what “mince words” means. 10 PIE PLATE.

Write the names on flash cards and show them alternately to each group in turns. chemically-derived whipped cream alternative. New York – not mythical wings of North America’s largest land mammal! They are chicken wings smothered in varying levels of spicy sauce and famous for being part of all you can eat competitions. 6 PUMPKIN. It comes as a sandwich or served in slices with mashed potatoes. hence they do appear as dirt or rocks as the name might suggest. APPLE. vegetables. or in what food group it falls. refrigerates. topped with ketchup or tomato sauce. 8 S’MORES The name comes from the fact that one will want “some more” after trying one! S’mores are a classic camping treat for kids with graham crackers. yellow sponge cake filled with cream. It is a 32 GRITS Grits are slowly cooked corn meal that southerners in the United States eat as a staple. shaped into a bread loaf shape. and a students’ first visit to a classic American diner might leave her befuddled with different flavor options. disgustingly sweet and famous for its long list of chemical ingredients. and meals into the list above and try a funky food activity in your class. 12 SPAM Canned. 2 3 BUFFALO WINGS COOL WHIP This is a very American. You can use pictures for the flashcards as well if your students are beginners and need extra help! . 1 SALTY OR SWEET Separate students into groups. 11 JAMBALAYA This is one of the most fun American food words to practice pronouncing.Hot Dog-itty Dog! 12 Funky Food Words and How to Teach Them Whether you teach EFL/ESL fundamentals and need to explain restaurant dialogue and how to order foods. BOSTON CRÈME… 7 Pie – or placing a filling on top of a thin dough – is very English. meats. try using explanation of these 12 funky foods to spice up your class! 12 FUNKY ENGLISH FOOD WORDS AND HOW TO TEACH THEM 1 HOT DOG The hot dog is a classic American treat with origins in German frankfurters that is now a global food. but more like cakes! Sweet bread is stuffed with gooey sweets and fried or fried first and then topped with sugary flavors. processed ham product might be the most American food available. the food is so common that it has become the definition of gelatin dessert. and delicious without having anything to do with dairy. a small. have incorporated it into a number of common foods. English is riddled with pie idioms. It was so widely used in World War II for soldiers for its transportability across the Pacific Ocean that American territory islands such as Guam. LEMON MERINGUE. They are not nuts though. If a group answers correctly. they receive a point. It is a southern stew incorporating okra. but what is it? Traditionally it is ground pork and ground beef mixed with spices like onion and garlic. you teach common foods to beginners. you teach a pronunciation/phonics lesson and find students stumped by strange food words. 5 Buffalo wings are a food from the city Buffalo. or you teach conversation classes and need more topics. The user adds water. It is sweet. along with its twin Gumbo that you can teach as well. Make them with your class! 4 TWINKIE This Hostess pre-packaged cake is an American classic and an emblem of convenience store culture. skinny. They are traditionally served with celery and blue cheese dressing. Its heritage of being related to a dog is because of its appearance to a dachshund. where a large US military base still exists. 10 MEATLOAF Students might guess that this is comprised of meat in a block of some sort. and then sliced. CHERRY. Explain that a pie in America is a sweet dessert with a thin crust and then a dense sweet filling of fruit or something sugary. TEACHING IDEAS Incorporate common fruits. and chocolate roasted on a fire during a summer outing in the woods. long dog with a similar reddish brown hue. fluffy. and has dessert ready in a snap! Like Kleenex is synonymous for tissue. prepackaged gelatin product that can be purchased in little boxes of powder in dozens of flavors. 9 DONUTS Dunkin Donuts is now an international food chain and popularized the quick spelling of this sweet fried “dough” treat. and Americans sweetened it up. JELL-O Jell-O is a classic American. especially with breakfast. and ask them to guess whether the food is salty or sweet. a green vegetable. They look like particles of dirt and can be a bit crunchy in the mouth. marshmallows. baked in the oven.

Have fun with your advanced learners and quiz them on their idiom and pun understanding by designing a quiz incorporating a verb tense or grammar concept you are teaching. write quiz questions like “It was going to be as easy as” with multiple choices to pick the right pie flavor. where students go around the class and try to add rhymes. You can use funky foods to practice any of your grammar concepts or challenging pronunciation. 4 WHAT IS THAT Show pictures of the foods and play a questions game where students ask you yes or no questions to try to discover what kind of food each is. 5 JUST EAT IT! Have a special foods month during your class time where you bring in two or three different funky foods every class. Twinkie. Ask the next student to repeat Twinkie and pinky and add another word. donut. and cheese whiz to encourage students to practice their pronunciation skills. if you are teaching past progressive tense. 3 PRONOUNCE THAT Use strangely spelled words like jambalaya. for example. and have the winner try the food and describe it to the class.2 HOT DOG-ITTY! IDIOMS AND PUNS Foods create thousands of figures of speech. Start with pronouncing Twinkie. and add a word that rhymes. or just as unique conversation starters in any level of ESL/EFL learning! 33 . like pinky. For example. Use your donut or Twinkie as a prize for winning a game or participating. Use a rhyming chain game. EVERYONE LOVES FOOD. SO USE IT TO GET THE ATTENTION OF YOUR STUDENTS.

or It’s like/ similar to . Temperature: It is hot/warm/chilled/ cold Texture: It is tender/ soft/ hard/ tough/ crunchy/ crispy Comparisons: It tastes like . A lot of times. SOME OF US MORE THAN OTHERS. After all.. we don’t want anyone to feel insulted or rejected. “no thank you”.. so a good way to start would be by complimenting the host/hostess first. however. May I ask what it is? This look amazing! What are the main ingredients? What a fabulous meal! How is this prepared? DESCRIBING FOOD Hopefully your students will also have the opportunity to entertain others. Is it OK if I just have . Teach them the following expressions and they will be able to continue stuffing their faces. or because they are sure they won’t like it. WITH THESE KILLER TIPS ON WHAT TO TEACH 1 ASKING ABOUT AND DESCRIBING FOOD The unknown can be scary for most of us. For now let’s concentrate on asking about food and describing it. Prepare them and encourage them to go to dinner parties and restaurants. There can be many reasons.. They can come clean with expressions like: It looks very delicious but I’m afraid it is a bit too different from what I’m used to. keep in mind what an important role meals play from the social point of view. Also. We try something and we don’t like it at all. the best and most obvious way to handle this is to simply ask the host /hostess about it. if you think about it. For this reason... This looks great but I have/am . our students might have a lot riding on a simple meal! HELP YOUR STUDENTS WITH THEIR WINING AND DINING. they have to be ready to say. All of us have a story or two about eating something we were a bit reluctant to try. that they want more.. In that case they need to practice describing food. smells and textures are way out of our comfort zone. Dealing with something we are unfamiliar with can be a daunting task and when talking about unfamiliar food. to try new dishes and flavors. then ask about the food. This is amazing! May I have some more? Incredible! Can I have seconds? May I have another piece/ portion/ slice of . 3 ASKING FOR SECONDS Let’s imagine another scenario. WE NEED TO EAT AND A LOT OF US ALSO ENJOY IT. They have been invited to a meal and everything is absolutely scrumptious.A Totally Yummy ESL Lesson Your Students Will Just Gobble Up THE FACT THAT EVERYONE DEPENDS ON FOOD TO SURVIVE IS OF NO SURPRISE TO ANYONE. allergies or that they are not hungry. It looks delicious but I’m allergic to .? SHARING A MEAL WITH A NICE GROUP OF PEOPLE IS ALWAYS LOVELY.. . Flavor: This is (a little/ very) sweet/ salty/sour/ bitter/spicy/hot.. Our students need to be able to talk about food and to describe it. This can happen to anyone and it is a delicate situation. IT IS TOO MUCH This is incredible but I can’t take another bite. Also many people suffer from different conditions that don’t allow them to eat certain foods. 2 DECLINING FOOD AND DRINK There will be times your students will need to say no to food or drink. They are enjoying the food so much in fact. We share meals to celebrate events and even to do business... These programs are designed to cover needs our ESL students might have abroad or when dealing with foreigners. but we will deal with this later. UNFAMILIAR FOOD When someone is unfamiliar with some type of food or drink. you realize is is quite palatable or even yummy. Let your students know they should be careful not to insult anyone. a much happier one for your students. Tell you student there are different strategies for this.. HELP YOUR STUDENTS ENJOY THEIR SOCIAL LIFE. it is no exception. MEDICAL CONDITIONS. Take a look at following examples.. these stories end well. This is very hard to manage. After tasting whatever it is you are trying. and I can’t eat/drink. They’ll thank you for it. and whatever the reason is.? Another choice is to use an excuse like.. So. the topic of food is always present in any and all ESL programs.. Everything is so delicious but I’m full. Other times. Perhaps because they have eaten too much. we are faced with a very different situation. Take a look at some examples. 34 This looks delicious/ fabulous/ incredible. THERE IS SOMETHING THEY DON’T WANT TO TRY Some foods with their flavors.

” or “You forgot to take out the trash. Students can say. Begin by reviewing the various household chores and equipment that you have covered. Choose a student. its chore. “My favorite chore is ______________. KEEP YOUR STUDENTS’ ATTENTION WITH THESE 6 ACTIVITIES 1 FINDING THE WORDS In order to talk about chores. Tell them to include as many household chores as possible. As you review them. how much it would cost and why they chose that specific chore for the robot.” Make copies of this game and laminate them.” Have them repeat it back to you. 6 ROBOT TO THE RESCUE! This activity gives students a chance to use their imaginations while reviewing household chores. but force the student to make a choice. 5 WOULD YOU RATHER? This activity is another way to re- view household chores in a fun game format. “Blank board game templates” can easily be found online by using a search engine. We use it to _________ (action). reading the board as necessary. 2 GET EQUIPPED Along with the names of various household chores. Then you would need to prepare of pile of cards with additional directions. INTEGRATE SOME OR ALL OF THEM INTO YOUR LESSONS SOON! 35 . Let your students know that today. Divide the equipment up into two equal piles. as everyone would like to find a way to get out of their chores! Have them share their robots when they are done. This activity works best if you have already taught telling time in English. Go forward 3 spaces. 7:30: Make breakfast. Then give them a blank template. However. your students will also need to know the names of the equipment we use to do household chores. “I would rather clean the bathroom all day for a month because ____________________.” Model a couple of cards for your students. This is a fun way to review this material. so they can see what your goal is. You will need to prepare a sample daily routine with times of day. and household chores are usually a part of that routine. Have some item to use as markers. you should write something like. so everyone gets a chance to talk. Have no more than 4 students per group. so teaching or learning about them is not usually first on anyone’s list. household chores are an important part of our daily routines. Provide them with a blank template that has room for: the robot’s name. The two teams will race to see who can put their equipment in the right spots first. Have fun with this activity to review the names and actions associated with household chores. and you can print one out. before you divide them into groups with sets of cards. they will have the chance to invent a robot that will do one of their chores. When you are done. and therefore ESL students need to learn how to communicate about them. It may serve as a culminating activity for the topic of household chores. answering any questions. and have them come up and choose a piece of cleaning equipment. Divide the class into groups of 2-4. “7:00: Wake up. If this is a class of children and this can be a multi-session activity. Lose a turn. See if they can place that item under the correct label.Teaching Chores is not a Bore: 6 Activities to Keep their Attention Most people do not like doing household chores. Some friendly competition usually makes class more fun and memorable. Go over all of the common household chores you feel are appropriate for your class. It should also have space for a drawing of the robot. ask them which one is their favorite and their least favorite. saying. On each card. You may make it as complicated as you wish by adding spaces to the board with a “?” that lead you to pick a card. LEARNING ABOUT HOUSEHOLD CHORES IS A NECESSARY PART OF LEARNING ENGLISH. Compare and contrast the different schedules over a typical day. which is always a great way to help remember what you have learned. 4 DAY BY DAY It is important that students are able to talk about their daily routines. but my least favorite chore is ____________. 7:15: Walk the dog. Use the activities below to teach your students about household chores. You will need to get actual examples of this equipment ahead of time to have it for your class. “This is a ________ (item). let the students share their schedules. When everyone is done. you may even want them to build the robot out of recycled materials and then present it to the class. such as.” and so on. such as bingo chips or coins.” Relating to them on a personal level tends to let students see how important learning these terms is to them. Have them roll the dice and move that number of spaces. for example they would need to put the broom under the word “sweeping. “Would you rather clean the bathroom all day for a month and never have to do it again. Mark some of the spaces with commands such as: “You made your bed.” For a fun twist on this game. divide the class into two teams. paying attention to pronunciation. 3 MAKE IT A GAME This involves some preparation ahead of time on your part. Review this routine with your students. You will also need one pair of dice for each board. The student should answer. Tell them they need to provide 5-10 (depending on the level of your class) times and routines for their typical day. how it completes its chore. a different one for each player. You will need to design a simple board game. You will need to prepare sets of cards ahead of time. Show them each item. depending on your numbers. place large titles of each household chore around the classroom. such as a broom or a vacuum. You will need to present clear pictures and labels to accompany each word. or clean the kitchen floor with your toothbrush once a year for ten years?” These questions should be silly. YOU CAN MAKE IT A BIT MORE INTERESTING FOR YOU AND YOUR STUDENTS BY USING THE ABOVE ACTIVITIES. your students need to have the vocabulary words. This activity works for children and adults alike.

This can be a great preposition review if you have already covered them. If you are not ready to teach that yet. but not to primary age students. Review a typical label. You can always refer back to this lesson when you do cover it. you may need to give them some possibilities. Depending on the class. This activity will focus on the dangers lurking there. they should read what they have written and label their pictures aloud. and reviewing or teaching the names of the rooms. such as a fire). and talk about the important terms. it should focus on childproofing that area and keeping children safe. smoke and firefighter. due to the subject matter of planning an escape route on their own. For some of these activities. 5 WHAT WOULD YOU DO? This activity would be great for . For example. and even take questions from the audience. You will also want to cover general terms. They can see what a firefighter looks like in his full gear. 3 UNDER THE SINK This activity’s focus will vary depending on the age of your students. Next. have them share. Students can take these maps home and discuss them with their family.Warning: 5 Activities to Teach about Household Dangers NO MATTER WHAT THE AGE OR LEVEL OF YOUR ESL STUDENTS. if possible.” “Do not place near heat. Talk about keeping that cabinet locked if possible. as even native speakers at that age generally do not use that word. Have them share their maps. More advanced students may talk more in-depth about the poster. This can help to serve as a review. of course. have pictures of various household dangers. At a minimum. such as. Begin by going room by room. and/or keeping those cleaning products out of the reach of children. for example a fire or a child getting into cleaning solutions under the sink. Use the activities below to teach this skill. and warn others about possible household dangers in their homes. Begin by having various empty containers of different cleaning products. make a chart that has each room as a heading. Give the example of “Don’t play with matches!” and see if the students can come up with some other examples. “Don’t play with matches!” and the like. you can try just brainstorming with little to no prompting. and that they are there to help even though they look strange in all their gear. If not.” and “Poison Control Center. and then give them the 36 vocabulary for the danger terms. such as “dangerous. have your students make a map of their home with the rooms labeled. Typically. In addition. If it is for older children or adults. To do this. using prepositions to explain how they would escape from the house.” if necessary. They also need to mark a meeting place for the whole family outside. You can even use a dollhouse if one is available to you. Have them put the pictures in the right places. it should focus on knowing not to ingest any of the cleaning solutions found there.” “poisonous. 2 PICTURE THIS This is a good follow up activity to the introduction of the vocabulary terms. role play calling 9-1-1 in case of a fire or other emergency. showing an enlarged one if possible. many people keep cleaning solutions and the like in the cabinet under the sink. Nevertheless. if possible. all students need to know how to communicate about household dangers in order to stay safe. just teach them the phrases necessary.” Discuss where they may typically be found in a home (in the cabinet under the kitchen sink). Your teaching is always more memorable for your students if you have visual aids. and discuss what room they might happen in (it could be more than one room. 4 FIRE SAFETY This activity would be best for older children and adults.” If it is an intermediate or advanced class. Brainstorm with your students for possible household dangers. A big household danger. Review with students the possible causes of a fire in the home. You will need a large cut-out of a house. provide assistance as necessary. Have them each create a poster warning others of their chosen household danger. TEACH ABOUT HOUSEHOLD DANGERS WITH THESE 5 ACTIVITIES 1 ROOM BY ROOM This activity is a great one to use if you have already covered the names of rooms in the house. Model a phone call to the Poison Control Center in case of ingestion and have the students role play that. Younger children can learn the vocabulary for fire. in general you would teach the term “childproof” to older children and adults. you will need to think about the age of your students. You can also use it to teach the imperative sentence. such as “Warning. If it is more of a beginner’s class. If this activity is for children. Review the terms they have learned to describe emergencies. Letting them brainstorm first allows them to process the idea before adding on learning some new vocabulary.” and “warning. Next. let your students know that it is important to have an escape plan in their homes in case of fire. If you have not done so with them yet. THEY MUST BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT HOUSEHOLD DANGERS FOR SAFETY REASONS. without going into the term imperative. Explain to the students that you are going to talk about household dangers. tell them to draw lines on the map to show how their family could escape from various rooms in their home in case of a fire. Discuss their names and their purposes. When they are done. Introduce the term “cabinet. Explain to them that today they are going to be the teacher. is fire.

Having that level of comfort enables students to take risks with speaking. read it and give an example of how to answer it. Next. put the class into partners and divide the cards among them. have each person choose one card from their pile. read it and answer it in front of the whole class. It is hot. “You smell smoke in the living room. Giving them a choice of answers which they have already composed makes students feel more comfortable. You will need cards (approximately five per student) prepared with various household danger scenarios. USE THE ABOVE ACTIVITIES TO HELP YOUR STUDENTS BE READY TO COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH IN ANY OF THESE DANGEROUS SITUATIONS. When they are done. One example would be.a class that has some conversational skills. which is always our goal. so you feel the wall. 37 . What would you do?” Start by modeling: choose a card. ALL ESL STUDENTS NEED TO BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT HOUSEHOLD DANGERS. Have them take turns with their partners answering the questions. ESPECIALLY IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

You will need to gather several articles of clothing typical of each season. they should “read” over all cards.” or “We see snowflakes in the winter. the interview may begin. you will need to teach these terms as well. Have them share why they placed the clothing as they did. Using a worksheet that you have designed. 3 MATCH IT UP Many students enjoy a game format. The activities below will help you get your students excited to learn about them as well. you will need a spinner with the four seasons on it and one section that says. Also on the pictures should be the name and dates of the season. you will need a large picture of each season. This picture should include the typical weather as well as some symbols for each season. The two students in the pair cannot have the same season. Hand each student a piece of paper with 4 boxes.” Pair up the students. Finally. brainstorm a list of what holidays your students are familiar with. 5 HOLIDAYS Teaching about holidays is a fun part of the 4 seasons topic. When the students are done. For this activity. Go over their drawings. and have the students repeat what you say. have them discuss which type of apparel goes with which season and why. Tell them to draw symbols to show what they know about each season in the boxes. try listing the dates for each holiday. the seasons here may be very different from their country of origin. put the holidays under the right seasons. they will come up as partners and read about the other person’s interview. you will need cards with the names of the four seasons printed on them. and separate the ones that we celebrate here as opposed to the ones only celebrated in their country of origin. 4 WHAT TO WEAR? An important piece of knowledge for each season is what types of clothing to wear. as well as cards printed with various pictures and symbols of each season. It can also stand alone for a more advanced class.The Most Wonderful Times of the Year: Teaching about the 4 Seasons THE 4 SEASONS IS A FUN TOPIC FOR ENGLISH LEARNERS BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. Examples of symbols would be a kite for the spring and falling leaves for autumn. 6 TELL ME ABOUT IT For this activity. 2 DRAW TO LEARN This activity can be used as a follow-up to the previous one. Having the knowledge of the 4 seasons would make them more comfortable when they are in spontaneous conversation. When they are all done. for example flip flops for the summer or a parka for the winter. Depending on the class. They need to know about the seasons for everyday conversation. This provides more practice in oral communication which is so important to the English learner. When they are done. It comes in handy for English language parents as they are involved in their children’s activities throughout the year. Begin the conversation by asking if anyone knows what season we are in currently. HOW TO TEACH ABOUT THE 4 SEASONS 1 A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS To begin. “We see pumpkins in the fall. Then order them from first holiday of the year to the last. This is a time when authentic materials would work best.” This review will reinforce using complete sentences which is sometimes a challenge for the English language learner. After your class is fairly confident with the names of the clothing. Have students take turns pulling a card out of the bag and placing it under the right season name. You can touch on weather and holidays. If you have already done a lesson on clothing. Put the picture cards in a bag. let volunteers from the class come up and draw their pictures under each season name. It is definitely an important topic for all English language learners that needs to be addressed. When this is finished. teach everyone the names of those symbols in English. favorite symbols of the season and so on. seeing if any other students in the class remember the English term for some of them. If you have not yet done the clothing topic. Review the names and dates of the 4 seasons. saying. Each student has to spin the spinner and record their season. For some. . put the typical month. hold up the clothes and have them tell you the name of each item. along with their weather and symbols. “Your Choice. each one labeled with one of the seasons. Encourage as much discussion as possible in order to promote oral communication. It will be helpful if you have a calendar showing the whole year where you can point out each season’s start and end date. Add to the list of holidays celebrated here by discussing any major holidays they may have missed on their list. Put the word cards out on the table. what happens in that season. Then use your cards to teach the names of the 4 seasons. For all these reasons. That is a great opportunity to have spontaneous conversation. For those that change every year. When they are done. Next. your students should interview each other regarding their favorite season. KNOWING ABOUT THE 4 SEASONS IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS. First. There may be some discussion involving a picture that could belong to more than one season. you may need to teach the term “season” to them. and these activities help to make learning fun. Talk about what types of parties and celebrations are typical for each holiday. Discuss the weather for that holiday. the 4 seasons is a topic you do not want to skip. With the students’ suggestions. separate them by season. This is a fun activity for any age. Pronounce the names slowly and clearly. You may need to ask others to help you gather these clothes ahead of time. Drawing is a good way to get some reluctant students 38 involved. Have students talk about their favorite holiday and what season it is in.

from. reply vs. They will need to start with www and end with . keyboard. attachment and so on. forward. People use it at work. tell the students they are going to make up their own website names. have them send you a short email to show they understand. If that is not possible. This will affect the direction of your lessons. Your class will probably have a wide variety of experience with the internet. it would be great if they could actually practice using one. They are not written with any safeguards in place. Then have them choose one of those people and actually write the email out on a worksheet you have given them that looks like a blank email. Once they are on the computer. such as: What holiday is celebrated on January 1st? Show them how to do the first one. Have them repeat after you as you teach for pronunciation purposes. We will use animals for this example. mouse. You may want to relate your questions to a previous lesson on a certain topic to extend that lesson. 39 . . Have the students share their work if they are willing. If you do not have one yourself in the room. you can just use this activity to introduce the terms in English. you can assign them a research project using it. give them the term “search engine” with an explanation. Talk about “www” being pronounced as the three individual letters. etc. Explain that websites often have catchy names to make the customer want to visit. have willing volunteers read the questions and answers to the group. Like all things technological. As the students become more comfortable with the internet. On the other hand. username. Choose a broad topic that goes along with what you have been teaching: animals. ANY TOPIC This activity would be for intermediate or above. you may teach them the terms and explain about email as much as possible without actually sending one. you will want to demonstrate these actions and parts of the computer: screen. Next. at school or for social reasons. Have them use the internet to research and find the information that you or . THE INTERNET IS A VERY IMPORTANT TOOL IN TODAY’S WORLD. it would be easier if all students had access to a computer. Tell them to think of five products they would ideally like to offer or groups they would like to start. Reading website names can be a challenge. If they are able. and others will need to know how to use email from start to finish. You may also want to show them a and so on as common endings to websites. have them draw a homepage for one or more of the websites. so they are comfortable. We use it everywhere. Have them share with the class. creative way to introduce the concept of websites that does not require a computer for each student. Now you will need a plan of what you want them to search. have them make a list of 3 people they would send an email with a reason for each. but it is understandable that this is not the case in every classroom. If this is not the case. and others may have little to no experience with it. Have them double click on the surf engine of your choice. some students will just need the terms in English. You will need to cover at least the following terms: To. cc. as many may be using that and would need the vocabulary word for it as well. as it requires some reading and writing. password and so be sure to bring large pictures to show them the different parts of the computer.” being pronounced as “dot. and show some interesting ones. You should have up to 5 specific questions. food. Teach these terms by showing a blank email to all of them at once if possible. Have them share their findings after everyone is done. and the “. This is a fun. Make sure you are circulating around the students to help them as they need for uniformity’s sake. If that is not possible. They need to be questions that have specific answers that will be easily found. just demonstrate for the class.5 Activities to Make Learning about the Internet Fun THE INTERNET IS SUCH A HUGE PART OF OUR LIVES. 3 SURFING THE ‘NET This activity is written for students who have computers with the internet on them. With some of these activities. When they are done. When most students have found the answers to the questions. you may send an email to a friend to show them how it works. Before you begin any activities. it would be wise to survey them and get a handle on how much experience they do or do not have. 2 THE WORLD OF WEBSITES This is an activity that requires no computers. have a list of about five websites where you know they can get fairly simple information on animals. send. and let them choose from there. Make a list of animals for which you know there will be information online. If there are few or no student computers. keys. subject line. If you have a class who is actually learning to use the computer. Please note that these activities are written for use with students who are adults for internet safety reasons. This activity is for a class that has email set up between you and them already through your program. It is important for ESL students to be able to use the internet in English well for these reasons and more. 5 PICK A TOPIC. battery. Use these 5 activities to help your students learn how to use it to help them be even more successful in their business and personal lives.” Also. If you do not have this in place. and to come up with names for them. If you have a teacher computer. Some may use it every day. you may have a class who needs to be introduced to the computer in general. Next. you can either demonstrate if you have a computer or show a video of someone doing the same. Your students need to know the terms used daily with the internet. holidays. 4 EMAIL Most students will need to know how to email if they do not do so already. Be sure to circulate among the students as they research to answer any questions. TRY THESE ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE YOUR STUDENTS’ INTERNET EXPERIENCE 1 THE BASICS If your class has a good handle on how to use a computer. the teacher may model the lesson and make some worksheets that would reflect the objective of the activity. control-alt-delete. In that case. be sure to discuss . reply all.

a mechanic: “I fix cars. encourage them to have spontaneous interac- 40 tions regarding the tools. such as you hammer with a hammer and saw with a saw. if they do not write in English yet) about what they do as if they were that type of worker.” KNOWS NO LANGUAGE. Students will each take a card. if possible.” The sentences should reflect the skill level of your students. perform them. You will need to set up your classroom to look like a hardware store. you will be able to help them get the vocabulary and expressions they need to feel comfortable talking about it in English. Have them actually perform the action and touch the tools if at all possible. This real-world experience will help your students use their vocabulary more spontaneously. Review the list of possible occupations that involve repairing. You will need to prepare cards ahead of time that give sample problems you would need tools to fix. you may be able to go on trips. students will address different possible problems and decide what tools would be used to fix them. Let the guest talk about what he does on an average day. They will look at their card and decide what they should use and what they should do to resolve the problem. “IF SOMETHING CAN GO WRONG. I check the brakes. For example: Your car has a flat tire. they should write down the tool(s) they will need. Everyone is going to need to repair things. If they are not able to write. Begin by reviewing the names of the tools and the actions for each. Introduce the names of tools by actually having the tools there. TEACH YOUR STUDENTS TOOLS AND REPAIRS VOCABULARY USING NEW IDEAS 1 BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING First and foremost. Have the tools you used to introduce the vocabulary with you. 2 MAY I HELP YOU? Your students may need to go to a hardware store to purchase tools. What should you use and what should you do I’M HERE TO HELP This can be a fun activity with a little imagination. You will also want to cover the various jobs that go along with this topic. After they read their sentences. IT WILL GO WRONG. If none of those are their occupations. Also. WE NEED SOMEBODY! Often we use tools because something has gone wrong. Have them write three sentences (or say. In this case. They would need to feel comfortable. the other students should guess which type of worker they are talking about. that would mean finding someone who is in a business where repairs are done. When introducing the actions. your students need to acquire the vocabulary for tools and repairs. Help your ESL students gain the vocabulary and expressions to talk about fixing things around the house or at work with the strategies below. If that is the case. This is bound to be a rewarding experience for the students. It would be great for those students to practice using their English work jargon in a supportive environment like their ESL class. 3 5 BE OUR GUEST It’s always a great idea if you can get guest speakers to come into your class with their real-world experience. see if any students feel comfortable asking the guest a spontaneous question. After that. First. and what your purpose is. Be sure to note how some actions have the same name as the tool that goes with it. Allow the students to practice these scripts using the tools and the cash register if possible. which is always one of our goals. Depending on your program. As the students become more comfortable with using the vocabulary. and then have the students ask their questions. such as a plumber or a mechanic. Set it up ahead of time so the staff there will be aware that you are all going to be there. For example. They may feel comfortable enough to participate in a kinesthetic activity even though they do not want to speak aloud in front of the class yet. They should take turns sharing what they have written. 4 HELP. This is a great way to involve students who may be reluctant to speak aloud. the guest and you.That’ll Fix’em: 5 Strategies to Teach about Tools and Repairs MURPHY’S LAW. Using these strategies. see if you can plan one to a local hardware store. Let the students know they are going to try on one of those jobs for size today. This role playing activity will build confidence for when they actually go shopping at a hardware store. Invite a mechanic or handyman in to discuss how they use some of their tools. Doing this activity will prepare them for it. If it is a class of adults and they actually do one of those jobs. to fix it? You will need at least one card per student. if possible. I change oil. You may want to have either a toy cash register or a calculator available. Take time and review pronunciation as necessary. It would be a good idea if in the class before you have the students brainstorm questions they can ask the guest about repairs. If the class is able to write. It is important that your students have the language in those cases. let everyone in the class choose a job. Then they will feel more comfortable when the guest arrives about using their English skills. they should just take turns showing which tool and stating the steps they would take. but can be done with beginners if they have a lot of support with the vocabulary. In this exercise. See that there is as little repetition as possible unless necessary. go through a few simple scripts of people shopping at a hardware store. if possible. This may be easier with intermediate and advanced students. This activity helps with spontaneous thinking in English. let them choose their true job even if it means you have repetition of jobs in the class. USING TOOLS AND MAKING REPAIRS AT HOME AND AT WORK ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF MANY STUDENTS’ LIVES. . along with one-three steps to fix their problem. have their names written clearly to go along with them.

for example. and what type of mov- 41 . 5 MOVIE ETIQUETTE Have students brainstorm examples of movie theater etiquette. Talk about what is on the poster. Therefore. seats. Play until one team has five points. Have them each design a movie poster for their movie. Choose your favorite movie times’ website. 4 SNACK TIME You will definitely want to go over typical encounters at a concession stand.” and explain what a documentary is. they will each share with the class.” It would be fun and fairly easy to construct a cardboard cut-out for the “worker” to stand behind while the “customer” asks for their tickets. You will need several role plays ready giving examples of how to say. Emphasize pronunciation here. clear pictures with clearly written labels to introduce these vocabulary words. or an appropriate number for your class. if possible. you may want to leave the brainstorming on the board so they have an idea of what the answer may be. You can use this fun activity as an opportunity to teach your students more English. Introduce sentences such as. popcorn. if possible. Tell the students this is what they will need for their movie poster. PLEASE While it is possible to purchase movie tickets online. “Where are the napkins. In a beginner’s class. you will need to introduce the vocabulary to your students. soda. Enjoy! TEACH ABOUT GOING TO THE MOVIES WITH THESE 10 ACTIVITIES 1 FIRST THING’S FIRST To begin talking about going to the movies. bringing in empty containers of them. and any other information. The other students should try to guess what that student is acting out. but in an intermediate or advanced class. romance. Let students know you want to see a certain movie between two given times. previews and so on. You can treat this like a scavenger hunt. divide the class into two teams. Action: 10 Activities to Teach about Going to the Movies GOING TO THE MOVIES IS FUN FOR EVERYONE. tickets. it is a good idea to roleplay for your students how to buy tick- ets at a movie theater. you may want to erase the brainstorming so they have to remember the etiquette example on their own. Be sure that all of your movie clips are appropriate for your audience. Show a clip of one type and introduce the name of it. Have them make up a stage name (if they would like) and a short biography talking about in what movies they have appeared. They will need to tell you the name of the theater and the starting time of the movie there. if necessary. please?” This can be driven home by role playing as well. Have one player come to the front of the room from each team. candy. scene. if necessary. as a reminder of what they have learned. When they are done. drama. Assist them with finding the title in English. documentary and so on. These posters can be hung in the classroom. Let them search for it on the website. and play a game of charades with them. Check for pronunciation as your students repeat after you.” please. You will want to include terms like: movies. and the first player to buzz in with the correct type of movie gets a point. 6 WHAT KIND OF MOVIE IS IT? Your students need to be able to categorize movies for when they have conversations in their social lives about them. as well as teach them about typical routines and conversations about going to the movies. Explain the concept of a movie star. Have them think of one of their favorite movies. “This is a scene from a documentary. You may also include terms directly relevant to the movie. You will need to prepare several clips from all types of movies: horror. please?” or “May I have butter on the popcorn. write them down on a piece of paper and cut it up into individual sentences. 8 YOU’RE A STAR! Tell the students that today. such as silencing cell phones and not talking during the movie. and so on. having them look for running times of certain movies or a theater that has three certain movies playing in it. This will all make them familiar with using a website to find movie times. many people still go to the theater and buy them in person. as the worker’s understanding of your student may hinge on that proper pronunciation of his order. theater. or at least one teacher computer to model.Camera. Building familiarity with the concept of buying tickets in English will make them more at ease when they actually go to do so. Discuss small. Pick a student randomly. they will become a movie star. When you have the list up and have discussed them. Use large. Pass them out. the main actors’ names and maybe even a quote from the movie. 2 WHAT’S PLAYING? Your students will need to be able to check what is playing at a given theater. such as the picture. 3 TICKETS. After you have gone through all of the movie types. It would be great if you had computers available for this activity. Model one or two role plays. Show a different movie clip. This is a fun way to get students familiar with this topic. “Two adult tickets for the 5 o’clock showing of “The Movie. Go over typical food and drink items that are sold there. and have that student act out their etiquette example. and then let the students take over. medium and large as sizes of containers. Show students several movie posters from famous movies. such as: actor. 7 PICTURE THIS It is always great to let students use art to learn. the title.

Let them watch the movie they voted on for a special treat. Enjoy! GOING TO THE MOVIES IS A POPULAR ACTIVITY FOR EVERYONE. Have several sets of cards ready: You will need cards prepared that have the movie title. and play the game of concentration with them. THIS WILL HELP MAKE GOING TO THE MOVIES AN EVEN BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR THEM.ies they like best. this may take more than one class period. This will reinforce the titles and main storylines of some classic movies. You may choose to provide typical movie snacks while they are watching the film. Discuss the plots and the main characters. 10 MOVIE DAY! Allow the class to vote on a favorite movie of those ten movies listed in the activity above. Watching a movie together will be a fun culminating activity for a group who has covered the topic of movies. USE THESE ACTIVITIES TO HELP YOUR ESL STUDENTS BECOME MORE FAMILIAR WITH THE ASSOCIATED VOCABULARY AND ROUTINES. and then cards prepared listing a one sentence plot about that title. Depending on your class time. show a short clip from each. Have some props if possible. such as sunglasses. Divide the class into pairs. If you would like.” Let them take turns sharing in front of the class with their props. hats and a boa for them when they present their “autobiography. just be sure to check for food allergies in the class first. 9 THE CLASSICS Choose 10 appropriate classic movies for the class. This activity provides opportunity for using their imaginations. which is always a fun direction. 42 .

they should respond with where they are from! Giving back is critical to dialogue.Using a Class Party to Teach 10 Social Conversation Skills ARE YOU TIRED OF YOUR TYPICAL SOCIAL CONVERSATION ROLE PLAYING EXERCISES? ESL teachers know that possibly the most important skill for learners is social mixing and mingling conversation. If you invited an advanced group. Do whatever is within your means and budget! If you are in a foreign country with few speakers. Give two sentences like above and then demonstrate that they should respond something like “Oh. 9 MANNERS Teach the art of polite interjections. or other teachers. “I need to go to the bathroom”. and heritage information as well! Give two points if students can figure out how your native speakers ended up at the party. For each proper use. They should ask. You can design another practice dialogue like in number four or teach to ask general questions. but role playing in partners or repetitions often lack real life context and go stale after a while. give a point. and “that sounds amazing”. and award the student with the most points a prize. like “Do you have family in the area?” Give two points for each specific data point they can figure out via open ended questions. For example. Save time also at the end of the party or the next class to have a gossip session about the results! 10 SKILLS 1 THE GREETING Your students probably already know greetings and the difference between formal and informal salutations. SOCIAL SKILLS LESSON Before the party. invite an advanced class to come. They might not have ever had a chance to practice using them in a real social setting. 3 HERITAGE Have students practice asking if people are from around your community or from where their family originated. they should focus on 1) if people look them in the eye when they speak and 2) if people laugh or smile during the conversation. “How did you get involved in this party?” This is a great way to solicit work. to an afternoon cocktail party. 2 WHAT DO YOU DO? Ask students to practice eliciting vocation information in a social conversation context. hobby. SOCIAL CONVERSATION SKILLS MIGHT BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING FOR ESL STUDENTS. 8 GIVE BACK Give students a point for each appropriate response they give to elicited personal information. such as “I see”. if they manage to discover where a native’s family is from. so you write in your free time?” Give two points for each hobby solicited as this is more challenging! 5 FAMILY Students should wait for cues to ask about family in most cases as well. For examples. For every proper cue noted and responded to by walking away. Tell them to see how many different “hellos” and “I am well” responses they can fit into their conversations! Award a point for each different one used. give them a point. For example. You want to have. at minimum. teach the following 10 basic social skills to students and have them practice on each other. They can ask “What do you do?” and “Where do you work?” Give them a point for each answer they receive. a ratio of one native or advanced speaker to two students if possible. “how interesting”. or body language hints like they begin looking away. Give your ESL students an opportunity to practice one-on-one conversation with natives or advanced speakers and liven up your class with a real party! PUT TOGETHER A REAL PARTY Invite good natured English speakers to class. 10 WHEN TO QUIT Teach students to look for cues of when a mingling conversation should end. They can ask. a light lunch. Give them a debriefing checklist with the skills before the party telling them that they are responsible to record both the responses of the natives as well as note their body language and other conversational cues. have them try to discover why they are studying English. 6 CONNECTIONS Have them try to figure out how people are connected to the group. TAKE EXPERIENTIAL TO THE NEXT LEVEL AND BRING THE PARTY TO YOUR STUDENTS! 43 . give a point. they might have to wait until some information is offered from another question. Give a certain number of points for completing each task. 7 BODY LANGUAGE Give a point for each body language note students deliver. however. WHEN PRACTICING IN CLASS HAS BECOME BORING OR JUST DOES NOT SEEM LIKE ENOUGH. if they had asked “What do you do?” and received an answer like “I am a waiter but I really love to write novels”. they can use that as a cue to ask about a writing hobby. Cues can be “My drink is empty”. For each answer they receive. This is an important social skill and a good conversation starter. Practice this skill before the party by preparing a list of short dialogues for pairs to take turns dialoguing in front of the class. or whatever other party is culturally appropriate. “Where are you from originally?” or “Do you live around here?” 4 WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO? It can be trickier getting personal with strangers! Brief them that to ask these questions about hobbies and pastimes.