Number one for English language teachers

General: holiday English courses

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

Many teachers do summer work teaching on short intensive courses. Such courses often have more of a holiday atmosphere than normal classes and teachers may look for jollier, summery activities.


Here are a few bright and crazy ideas:

Treasure hunt

  1. Prepare a list of about 10-15 questions that can be answered by exploring and looking carefully at objects, places, notices etc in the vicinity, e.g. "What colour is the ceiling in the hall?", "How much does a bottle of Coke cost in the buffet?", "When was the museum opened?" etc.
  2. Put learners into teams and set a time limit for everybody to finish and meet up. Check the answers - and the winning team gets a prize.

Who wants to be a grammar millionaire?

  1. Students from different countries are often familiar with similar quiz programmes on TV.  Many of these formats adapt well into classroom games.
  2. How about playing 'millionaire' using vocabulary or grammar revision questions?
    A lot of the fun comes out of having one person 'in the spotlight' which contrasts interestingly with more familiar pair, group and whole-class working modes.
  3. Some other good game show formats include 'Blockbusters', 'Countdown' and 'Blind Date'.

Pebble poems

  1. Get a pack of felt-tip pens and go out of class to the park - or the beach. 
    Ask learners to look around them, notice details of the place and note down as many words and phrases as they can.
  2. Then ask them to find a new natural writing surface in the location - maybe a pebble, a leaf, a blade of grass, a piece of driftwood etc.
  3. They must select words or phrases to write onto their new 'page'; if it's a small object they'll have to choose - and write - very carefully. 
  4. When everyone gets back to class, set up an art gallery in the room, showing off their new poems.

Ice cream

  1. Give your usual communicative activities a 'summery' edge. For example, in groups of three, the learners can become managers of competing ice cream companies.
  2. They first discuss and decide on three new flavours of ice cream, think of three names for them and design the packaging.
  3. Encourage them to think of weird and wonderful flavours (e.g. ham and eggs) and names.
  4. When they have decided, each group member can choose one of their three ice creams to sell themselves.
  5. Everyone now walks around, persuading others to buy their ice cream by showing the packaging, describing the taste etc. 
  6. You could make it more exciting by giving each learner some money tokens (e.g. scraps of paper) that they can use to 'buy' the ice creams they like; the winning player would be the one who collects most money for their ice cream. 

Extravaganza

  1. Ask other teachers in the school if their classes would like to put on a 'show' together. 
  2. Each group can prepare an 'act' (maybe a song, a dance or a comedy sketch).
  3. On the agreed day, bring all classes together (maybe in the open air) and enjoy each other's performances at this 'Extravaganza'.

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