Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interactive Activities in the ESL Classroom

Here is another guest blog post from the English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) about using interactive activities in the ESL classroom. (Read another guest blog post from the ESLC about using repetition in the classroom here.)

Interactive Activities in the ESL Classroom

Interactive activities should be a part of every class that you teach. They are an opportunity for students to practice what they just learned. Interactive activities are more effective practice than worksheets.   Follow these steps when conducting interactive activities in class:

Explain – Show students the materials that they will be using for the activity and explain the activity. Example: “Now we will practice introductions with other students in the class.”

Demonstrate – Show students how the activity is done. Do the first question on the page together, or call a student up to the front of the classroom and model the activity with them.

Do – Distribute any materials or handouts at this point. This ensures that the students are paying attention to you when you explain and demonstrate the activity. Have students try doing the activity on their own.

Repeat – Make sure that students repeat the new phrases or vocabulary several times. For example, after you teach a student the necessary vocabulary to introduce himself/herself to someone new, they should have the opportunity to practice introducing himself/herself to someone new 3-4 times before the end of class that day. Do not assume that by teaching the vocabulary and having the students write it down that they have learned the material. You may pair the students with new partners to allow them opportunities for extra practice without getting tired of the activity.

Observe – While the students are doing the activity, walk around the room and observe them. Answer questions and make corrections as necessary. This is your opportunity to see who understood what you taught during class and who needs extra practice. This is a vital part of your role as teacher. This is not the time to be taking roll, checking your phone messages, etc.  

Feedback  - Praise the students for their good work during the interactive activity. Review any concepts or words that you noticed that many of the students struggled with. At this point, you may decide to extend the time spent on this activity if you have noticed that the students need some extra practice. 

Remember: every time that you present new vocabulary or concepts, allow the students time to practice using it during an interactive activity.

Some interactive activities that you could use are dialogues, matching, surveys, role plays, peer dictation, mixers, flash card quizzes, or a game of charades.

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