Before I give you some ideas for TEFL competitions and how to implement them in your classroom, I’d like to congratulate BÃ¹i Thuáºn Tháº£o and Nguyen Huu Phung Quang. These two students were the winners of a story writing competition that I held in my pre-intermediate teen class.
The challenge was for the students to write the next section of the TEFL graded reader that I’d posted in October. If you haven’t had a chance to read it or use it in your classroom, you can find the first part of the story here. The name of the story was Discovery at Vui So Beach.
Well done Thao and Quang, your stories were great! If you’d like to read their winning entries, you can do so by clicking on the download button below.
If you’d like to get some ideas for competitions you can do in your classroom and some suggestions for how to implement them, read on.
Types of Competitions
I find that the key to any competition is to ensure that the students will actually be focusing on a language skill (e.g. writing, speaking, listening or reading). Obviously speaking and writing lend themselves more easily to a competition as the students will be producing something. That said, if you are creative, you can likely come up with something engaging that could incorporate any skill.
In the course of their career as an English learner, students are continually bombarded with tests that require them to write short essays or responses. I chose to create my last competition, to write a creative end to a story, as something different. That said, an essay competition with an interesting topic would likely lead to good results and help them with future essay writing.
There are a number of ways to create a competition centered around speaking. I’ve even known some teachers who have had their students compete with rap battles. More conventional ideas are to have a speech competition, a short skit, or a debate
Reading and listening, for reasons stated earlier, are more difficult to center a competition around. That said, why not create a competition that incorporates reading or listening as one of the elements? For example, you could assign a story or graded reader as extra homework and have a quiz show after a month. That or even have a competition based on the best review of the story/movie.
Tips for Running the Competition
One thing that I often struggle with is making sure that the students will have enough time to participate in the competition. For example, it’s probably not a great idea to create a deadline around the same time as student exams. As a rule of thumb, I imagine how long it would take the students to do the activity in class and make each hour one week. So if it might take students four hours to complete a task in class, I make the deadline four weeks from the date I assign it.
Don’t forget to keep reminding your students about the deadline. It often helps to break the task up into pieces and create a deadline for each. If it was a writing competition, say that the deadline for topics is one week later, outlines due in two weeks, rough drafts in three weeks, final drafts in a month. Breaking large projects up in this way makes the task much more achievable for students.
Another important thing to remember is to have clear criteria for judging the competition. Remember that you will eventually have to choose a winner. How are you going to do this? Is it based solely on how interesting the work is, how few mistakes, how complex, best pronunciation? It’s important to decide these things BEFORE you start the competition and to let the students know how it will be judged when they sit down to get started.
When choosing a topic, keep your classroom in mind and choose something that will be interesting for them. I like to involve them in this process as a way of introducing the competition. One week we come up with ideas and rules together, the next week I finalize them and give them to the students in written form.
My final piece of advice is to keep it light-hearted. Competitions are meant to be fun and motivate the students to push their abilities. If the competition is too stressful it could actually do damage to a student’s confidence. Keep it light and keep it fun.
I hope you get a chance to try out a competition in your classroom. If you do, please share it with TEFL Express and we’ll make sure that your students get internationally recognized online for their work. You can do this directly by emailing me: firstname.lastname@example.org or connecting with us on Facebook.