Happy New Year! Well, not just yet, but it’s right around the corner. New Year’s offers a lot of opportunities to teachers in terms of classroom activities, and also a time to hit the reset button. Instead of just keeping your classes on autopilot, take a bit of time to reflect on how things are going and do a bit of fine tuning. Try to set goals for your students, or let them do it themselves.
Read on for a mix of long term strategies for the new year and practical classroom activities to do around the holiday. The free resource for this week is an adaptable I Can Statement Calendar for your younger students to use throughout the year. You can gain access to it by clicking on the button below. If you’re not sure what that is or how you could use it, keep reading.
Goals, Motivation and Classroom Management Strategies
Let’s start with the aforementioned I Can Statement Calendar. All too often TEFL teachers can get caught in the trap of planning their classes lesson to lesson, and not looking at the bigger picture. Similarly, students who only come to class every week may not see their overall progress, which drastically affects their motivation. This is just as true for young learners as it is for teens or adults.
One way to help them see their progress is to use an I Can Statement Calendar, which shows the students what they have learned throughout the year. Each month, choose a few important goals for your students. These could be vocabulary, grammar or skill based. At the end of the month, make it a ritual to hand these calendars out to the students and have them put a tick by the skills they have learned; it’s a physical reinforcement that they have indeed learned something. Note that I said “hand out”, it’s important that these calendars not get lost. Keep them somewhere safe as young students have a tendency to lose things.
For older students, including adults, motivation is just as important and they can fall into the same ruts as children. People need to see progress in order to keep their motivation up. However, especially as the student’s level increases, the goals get more complex and should be set by the students themselves. Have the students set a goal for their year and then a month by month breakdown of how they will achieve that goal.
Another good idea for the new year is to simply change things up and keep things fresh. This means new game ideas, new classroom routines and new classroom management strategies. You might find that doing this helps some students increase their confidence and that some students will try harder within the new system. Switching things up creates an opportunity for new students to shine. If you’d like to read more about different classroom management strategies, check out a previous TEFL Express post about this.
New Year’s Activities for Your TEFL Classes
For very young, low level learners there really isn’t the capacity to do too many in depth reflections of the past year or plans for the future. If I were to go up to one of my five year old Vietnamese students and try to explain to them the concept of New Year’s (at a time when it is not widely celebrated) it simply wouldn’t have much impact. If you really want to do a New Year’s activity with students of this age, I’d recommend making it craft based and somehow contextual for their culture (e.g. fireworks or other things they may see on the day).
For younger students that are a Movers level or beyond, there are a lot of fun craft and game activities that you can do. One of my favorite is to let students create a 2018 poster or banner. The first step is to have students think about what they plan or want to do in 2018. Then, using target language suitable for their level (e.g. “I want to…” or “I’m going to…”) have them make a list. Once the students have made their lists, they can either make individual posters or work with a group to make one larger poster. You can, if you have the space, even have the students make one massive poster as a class. Once it’s finished, have the students share their plans with each other.
For older, or more advanced, students the options open up considerably. It really depends on what tenses you’d like to practice. Let’s start with the past:
The Year in Review News Quiz
If you’ve been using the news in your classroom, or if the students are adults, this is a great way to talk about things that have happened throughout the year. The simplest way to do this is to break up different new stories by category (science, technology, world, local, etc.) and create easy and difficult questions with different point values. I would also recommend including one category that is class news and just goes through events that happened within your classroom over the past year.
The Story of Your Year
Individually, give students the task of coming up with five major events that happened to them during the year. They should also think of how this affected them and how they felt at the time. Then, using sequence linking words (then, after that, next…), they should tell their story in a small group of up to four students. After everyone has shared, the students should report on what other students did the past year. It’s a good way to see how well they were listening and can easily be turned into a game.
Here are a few New Year’s Activities to practice the future tense:
Life Goals for the Year
The first step is for each student to come up with several life goals for the year. Then, working with a partner, they discuss whether these are realistic goals and how they are going to achieve them. After that, the students help each other come up with a month to month plan to achieve those goals. Depending how much time you want to dedicate to the activity, you could have them present their plans to the whole class.
**Note: this is also a great activity to do with English learning goals. Not only are they coming up with the goals, but they will get feedback from the class of how to achieve them. It will also keep them motivated during the year since they won’t want to fail in front of their classmates.**
Have your students make predictions for 2018. You can either have them use future simple or future perfect tense to do this. First have them work in small groups, then discuss the predictions as a class. In the end, agree on ten predictions and set a date when you will look at the list again to see whether any of them have come true.
**Note: keep this list somewhere safe and set yourself a Google reminder of when to look at it again as you will likely forget.**
Happy New Year. I hope that these activities and ideas will help you start out 2018 in a positive way and that you are ready and excited for the challenges that teaching continually brings. If you have any of your own activities that you’d like to share, please comment on this post and share them with the group. Also, if you’d like to gain access to the I Can Statement Calendar click on the button below.