In many countries the school term has finished, and teachers are getting ready for short intensive courses. How can you best prepare for them? Imagine you are in a classroom for 3-4 hours with bright and active teenagers who have just finished their school term and decided (or their family has decided) to dedicate their free time to learning English. What can you do with these students who probably don’t feel like doing exactly the same activities they were doing at school, but still want to improve their English? These intensive courses provide excellent opportunities to try out the materials and approaches your tight school schedule and class syllabus do not often allow you to do.
We have collected our favourite resources and tips for these short courses. We believe that variety plus engaging tasks are even more beneficial during these courses than during the school term. Having a schedule and reliable materials is important because you may not have enough time to prepare your own activities for every session. Here are our tips.
1 Create a routine for your students, but make it fun.
2 Think outside the box. Use resource books, readers, and course books you have not tried before.
3 Get your students to move. Sitting in one place for a few hours will make everyone bored and sleepy. Some stretching will wake everyone up.
4 Talk about topics that interest them. Discuss and collect focus points during the first lesson.
5 Dedicate time to skills practice.
6 Dedicate time to reading practice followed by discussions.
Let’s see some reading ideas.
1 Have a short discussion about your students’ reading habits. Ask the following things:
- Are you a slow or a fast reader?
- How long does it take you to finish a book?
- Do you read several books at the same time?
- What kind of books do you like?
- What kind of books don’t you like?
- Do you like graphic novels?
- Do you prefer reading digital books or paper books? (I was surprised to hear how many students would choose ‘old-fashioned’ paper books.)
- How often do you read in English?
2 After this discussion you can try some of our Book Club worksheets.
These worksheets will help your students explore new genres, understand their reading level and they can do some fun quizzes.
3 Do in-class reading.
In-class reading sessions are great when you would like to have a quiet moment which will inspire your students to start discussions. Let them choose a book and ask them to read it for ten-fifteen minutes. After the reading session you have several options. You can ask them to write a short note about the plot, the setting and the characters, keep a reading diary, give recommendations and write their own reflections about the passage. In the Book Club Starting Kit you will find a sample reading diary.
If you’d like to read more about in-class reading, visit our blog posts Reading the classics in class, Reading for fun in the language classroom. When and how?.
4 Encourage your students to continue reading at home.
If they find a book they really like in class, encourage them to take the books home and then share their ideas during the next lessons.
Most teenagers love young adult novels, and they can start reading them when they have reached the intermediate level (CEF B1). If you would like to learn more about these, check out 101 Young Adult Novels by Christian Holzmann. Visit the accompanying website www.101yans.com for monthly themes, worksheets, reviews and new titles.
Do you read during intensive courses? Share your experiences and ideas with us! Come back to us next week, we will look at ideas from resource books for skills practice.