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Adventures in EFL teaching (the games we play)

The term has flown by, like a lot of my dignity in personal relationships. This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed it, in fact, this class has been my reminder why I like teaching.

I think a lot of teachers not only get burned out, but also forget why they liked teaching in the first place. Teaching can get monotonous, monstrous, and mundane.  Now I’m not saying this is where I was at, but this class was just what I needed.

Whatever personal distractions or discomforts I may have had this past term, had to be promptly pushed aside when I stepped into Room 11. This class required my full attention.

This is not to say that other classes don’t require my full attention, it’s just with some classes, the more mature ones, I can turn my back towards them or relax. But as we got closer and closer to the end of the term, the class became a little freer, and a little more irreverent, and I couldn’t blame them. We were all ready for a change.

Lions, Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

Now they are with another teacher and I have classes with students I have taught before. This presents a different challenge, the challenge of playing new games or giving a twist to the old ones. Teaching will be about familiarizing myself with a new book and level, and managing a large intermediate level class.

But let’s start with my smaller class. Once I realized I had some of my former students, I started thinking of new first day games. Here are a couple of them that I came up with the other night:

Guess Who? I had the students write down a description of who they are. For example, I’m over 25 years old. I am a girl. I want to travel all over the world. I have 2 cats and 2 dogs. After the students gave them to me. I mixed them up and hung them around the room. Students then got up, and read the descriptions. They had to guess who they thought everybody was, by writing the student’s name next to the description. Worked well.

Secret Questions for the Teacher: I told the students (Ss) to write down on the whiteboard any questions they might have for me. For example, if it is a small class, then every student can write down a question for me to answer: “How young are you?” or “How many boyfriends do you have?” I leave the room, giving them 4 or 5 minutes and then return to answer the questions.

I also did this with my big class but each group could write 1 or 2 questions. It was fun and it can be a great way for them to learn about their teacher without feeling “put on the spot” or embarrassed.

Another game that I like to do on the first day is Musical Chairs. There are 3 rounds to this game but you can also turn this into a grammar review game too. Round 1 is remembering names. When the music stops whoever is left standing has to remember or say everyone’s name. During Round 2 the standing student has to share something about themselves, like “I’m 15” or “I study at Dara Academy.” Round 3 is the Q & A segment. Another chair is taken out and the 2 Ss have to ask and answer each other’s question.

I also tried a new twist on Interviewing Your Partner. Usually I pair up the Ss and ask each Ss to introduce their partner. I model this, of course, through a speaking example and a written example. So each student says something like this, “This is Nam. She is 19 years old. She studies at Payap University. She has 2 brothers and 2 sisters and 2 cats…”

I have them to write down their partner’s answers and practice questions in English. For instance, “What is your favorite animal?” or “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” Thais almost always forget the verb+s for 3rd person.

But this time I had the Ss do the interview holding a whiteboard marker as a mic, and pretend they were interviewing EFL students for YouTube. It went well enough but next time I will model it better. They were a little unclear as to how to end the interview and how many questions to ask, even though I told them 4 or 5 questions. I think next time, I’ll have them write it down.

But that’s what happens when you try something new. Sometimes it works great, other times, it’s a fail, or somewhere in between, but you keep trying…and remember you’re here to learn too.


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2 thoughts on “Adventures in EFL teaching (the games we play)

  1. One of my favorite “get to know the teacher” games is called “What would Kim say?” Depending on the class size, each student (or pairs/small groups of students) write down a question that they’d like to ask me on a small piece of paper. I emphasize that it can be anything about me– favorite book, age etc. But, they should try to make the questions unique so that we do not have repeats. I collect all of the questions in a bag. The class is divided into two teams. Then a student (or pair/small group) picks a question out of the bag, and tries to guess “What would Kim say?” aka how would I answer the question. If they answer it correctly, their team gets one point. If not, I tell them the correct answer. Then it is the next team’s turn to pick a question and guess the answer. After finishing all of the questions, the team with the most points wins. It’s fun because they get competitive, and because it gets them talking rather than me simply lecturing them about myself. It also avoids me having to answer awkward questions like, “What type of boys do you like??” *giggle, giggle*

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  2. I like it!!! Thanks Kim. I’m thinking of using it for the last day. You know, how well do you think you know me 🙂 kind of thing. Great! Hugs from CM!

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