Ideas for outdoor lessons which will have an element of English in them.
The sun is shining. The school year is approaching its end. You and your students are sweating in the classroom. You are explaining something (for the nth time) and the class isn’t paying attention; some are even nodding off in the back. Maybe it’s time for a change of pace, a change of atmosphere. How about a class outdoors?
The following are ideas for outdoor lessons which will have an element of English in them. They are intended for classes of adult, young adult or teenage learners.
Note1: These lesson ideas are for classes in countries where English is NOT the main spoken language. Classes in English-speaking countries can use/adapt some of these, but of course have a wealth of other possibilities.
Note 2: These classes all presume that you are actually able to leave the classroom. Find out if you are allowed to do so before attempting these activities. If it isn’t possible to leave your school with your students, you’d better stop reading here – otherwise all the following is just wishful thinking!
Outdoor revision class
- Tell the class that one of their revision classes before the final exam will be outdoors.
- Choose a park or other suitable venue for this. Ask the students to each prepare five questions (with the answers) to ask each other to help revise for the test.
- Prepare some questions of your own on a handout (one handout for every four or five students).
- When you arrive at the park, divide students into groups (sitting on the grass or at different tables) and tell them ask their revision questions.
- Circulate and check. When they have finished, give each group your handout and ask them to work on it together. Go through the answers at the end.
Guided tour role-play
Levels: Elementary +
- Explain that in the following class you are all going to go for a walk somewhere outside of the classroom (a walk down the main street, to a park, around the historical part of the town, etc).
- Tell the students that you would like them to do this in pairs, with one person giving a 'guided tour' of the places they are walking past, in English.
- The other person must listen and ask questions. If you are working with a low level group, elicit the kind of things that the students might want to say.
- You could get them to prepare small cue cards with useful language, like the following:
Giving a tour – useful language
|This is …
On the right/left you can see …
Here we have …
This was built …
This building belongs/belonged to …
On the corner there is …
In the next class, go on your walking tour of the place you had decided on. Tell students to give the guided tour to their partners. Halfway through the tour, ask students to swap roles and continue.
- Divide the class into pairs. Give each pair a piece of paper and ask them to write the letters of the alphabet down one side of the paper.
- Explain that you are all going to go for a walk outside (around the block, down the street, to a park, etc) during this class and that each pair must try to write English words for each letter of the alphabet.
- The only catch is that they can only write words for things that they see during their walk (this becomes a variation of the popular children’s game ‘I spy’ in which people have to find things beginning with a certain letter).
- Take the class for a walk. Bring a piece of paper and pen yourself and see how many things you can spot.
- When you come back to class, write the letters up on the board and ask students to call out things they saw.
- Write them (or ask students to write them) on the board. Ask students to explain what the words mean (either by a synonym, or a translation) to the others if some people don’t know.
- Finish off by drilling the pronunciation of the words, then asking students to record them all in their vocabulary notebooks. Use these words in future language games or tests.
Level: All (depending on whether or not the film has subtitles)
This activity works best if there is a cinema in your town which shows films in English (with subtitles). Organise a class so that you all go and see a film together, and talk about it afterwards. Some possible tasks that could go with an excursion to see an English movie would be:
- Listen out for one (or two, or three …) new English phrases during the film. Write them down afterwards, and find out what they mean.
- Follow the English and the subtitles – were there any occasions when the subtitles were not quite right/different?
- Write a review of the film you saw, in English.
- Choose three or four phrases in English that you think you will hear in the film*. Write them down on a piece of paper. Tick the phrases off as you hear them. After the film, show your phrases to a partner. Can you remember when you heard them?
- What did you like/dislike about the film, and why? Discuss with a partner.
- Find out three more things about the film you saw using the internet as a tool (e.g. visit the film’s website, read other reviews of the film online, find out about the actors). Bring what you’ve found out to the next class.
*Note: With this activity, you could do a class brainstorm on it in the class before going to the cinema. A class about to go and see Star Wars might reasonable guess the following phrases will appear: May the Force be with you; why are you doing this?; he’s too powerful!; it’s a trap!
Level: Pre-intermediate +
- Organise a class visit to a famous local museum/gallery or other historical building.
- Before they go, tell students to find any information they can about this place in English on the internet. They should share their sources and information with each other.
- During the visit, tell students you would like them to choose one thing they find interesting/beautiful/curious and describe it in English to a partner. This could mean translating the little information plaque (if there is one) or simply giving a description and an opinion of the object (piece of art) in question.
Possible follow up: Go to the gift shop and ask students to buy one postcard of something they like (museum and gallery gift shops will often have postcards of the most important pieces of art). They should prepare a one-minute presentation about the object for the following class. In the following class, ask students to give their presentations to each other in small groups.
Speaking skills: Teaching ideas
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