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Keeping students amused

Whatever pains a master make take to make the learning of the languages agreeable to his pupil, he may depend upon it, it will be at first extremely unpleasant. The rudiments of every language, therefore, must be given as a task, not as an amusement. Oliver Goldsmith.

The basic principle is Games, Games and more Games. Of course, you do not call them games. They are communicative activities.

Beware of books with titles like Fun With Grammar. You might as well call a book Fun With Cancer. These games are usually designed to practise a structure like the present perfect. As practice they may be passable, but as games per se they are usually crap. Often you have to cut up hundreds of tiny pieces of paper first. Students then mill around the class, wondering what the point is, showing each other what is written on their bit of paper, avoiding the target structure and speaking in their native language.

No, the trick is to find a time-proven game that works, then devise a plausible ELTish reason for using it.

An example is Monopoly. Guaranteed to keep them amused for an hour, but what do you tell the DOS when he sticks his interfering head round the door?

The best bet is to adapt the game in some way. So if you are doing the present perfect, every time a student lands on a square they have to say, “I have landed on The Angel, Islington.” Another student can then say, “I have already built a hotel there, so you must pay me £50.” You can probably think of something more creative, but that is the general idea. The students will find it mildly irritating, but it will not spoil the game.

Besides games, role plays and tasks keep the students entertained and your DOS happy—and do not involve too much work for the teacher.

Dream up a task like a class newspaper or a website and you can keep the students busy for weeks.