TEFL activity ideas
April 21, 2005 5:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm teaching English conversation to my French colleagues, and I'm looking for fun ideas to help us have enjoyable, engaging conversations. These students range from intermediate to advanced. I've looked on some TEFL forums and gotten a few ideas, but I'd like to hear your suggestions as well.

During our first lesson, we played the small plane crash survival game, which went over very well. I've also thought about reading and discussing some articles, listening to some talk radio, etc. But I'd love to hear some more ideas.
posted by hazyjane to Education (5 answers total)
Buy 'em cheap disposable cameras, and tell them to go out and photograph the things they think are cool / puzzling / fun / etc. Get the photo's developed, and use the resulting photoboard as a springboard for conversation.

Probably works better for TEFL courses where the native language is English, and you're also trying to get people to integrate and/or understand the local culture better.
posted by seanyboy at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2005

Radio is pretty difficult, because it goes by quickly and you've got no added context to help you understand stuff. Dumb TV shows (or dumb movies) are surprisingly useful, because there's lots of context to help you figure stuff out and they're a good source for colloquial English. The advanced students might find this sort of thing a bit too easy; the intermediate ones will probably find enough new stuff to challenge them, but pick up on enough stuff to stay engaged and avoid feeling discouraged.

That's the real trick: finding the line where something is difficult enough to be challenging and engaging, but not so difficult as to be discouraging.

Newspapers and magazines and even short stories are all good sources, but operate on a completely different level. I had a student once who had an excellent command of written English; he'd read the Trib on the train and circle things that puzzled him. Something like that might be a good exercise--have the students pick out problematic sections in the paper and talk about them.
posted by adamrice at 7:40 AM on April 21, 2005

I've have good results playing the drinking game "Well I never...". Of course, if it's for work you'll have to play with jelly beans instead of beer, but it still works.

If you're not familiar with it, it works like this: each person takes turns saying something that they have never done, but that they suspect that others have done. For example, one Muslim student in my last class said "Well, I have never eaten pork". Everyone else in the group had eaten pork, so they each had to give him a jelly bean. The person who has the most jelly beans when the game ends wins.

It's a good game for practicing the past perfect with regular and irregular verbs, and gets people laughing. Especially if you have any smart-asses in the class - things can get a little raunchy if you let them!
posted by Cuke at 8:35 AM on April 21, 2005

When I volunteered to teach English conversation to Japanese students my favorite conversation method was to use a card game or a board game. The conversation never felt stilted while everyone struggled to find something to talk about and it was a fun diversion. Usually it was good practice to discuss the rules and trash-talk each other.
posted by Alison at 8:37 AM on April 21, 2005

My french teacher was delighted to learn that the english language had a word for "cog". That seems like one of those little language anecdotes that might be nice to throw at them.
posted by rfordh at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2005

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