Top Time Fillers for an EFL Classroom
2018-06-13 Mark Crocker Teaching Ideas
As every TEFL certified English teacher will know, it is all too common to find you have completed the lesson but there is still time left before the end of the class. While first-time teachers might panic in this position, experienced teachers will always have a few go-to activities to use in these situations. To help you out we have put together the following suggestions for fun, educational activities that can be brought out with little or no preparation.
This is a classic old classroom game that is still great fun to use today. First, you need to arrange the students in a circle. To get the game going, the teacher or a student comes up with a relatively long sentence (ideally using vocabulary or grammar points learned in the lesson) and then whispers it to the first student in the circle. The next student has one go at passing on the sentence to the next student in the circle. Continue around the circle until you reach the last person. The last student then says the sentence they heard out loud. The teacher can then reveal the original sentence to see how it compares with what the final student said.
Also read: Top 5 Icebreakers for New TEFL Teachers
This popular game is a great way for students to practice their vocabulary in a short space of time. All you need is to have the vocabulary you are currently studying written on separate cards ready to go. To kick things off simply choose a student to come up to the front of the class and choose a random vocab card. The student then has anything from one to three minutes (depending on time constraints) to draw pictures on the board to elicit the correct word from their classmates. No letters, numbers or symbol are allowed, and the rest of the class can have as many guesses as they like until the correct answer is found or the time runs out. The student who correctly guesses the word then repeats the process until the lesson is concluded.
The Never-Ending Story
This popular time filler gives the students a chance to be creative with the language they have learned. Start by writing a sentence on the board that could be used to start a story (ideally containing grammar or vocabulary from the lesson). The students then take it in turns to come up and add a single sentence to continue the story. The class can check each sentence for errors as you move through the activity. Once everyone has had a turn, one person can read out the story to see what you have ended up with. Once you have used this activity a few times you should find the students have the confidence to be increasingly creative.
Also read: The 5 Best TEFL Games for Adult Students
This very simple game has the potential to generate plenty of laughs in the class. To start, each student is given two pieces of card or scrap paper. On one, they have to write a question that begins with “why”. On the second, they answer their own question beginning with “because”. Once complete, collect all the “why” cards and mix into a hat or box and then do the same with a separate pile of the “because” cards. Students can then pick a random card from each pile and read out the why/because combination. Inevitably, there should be some funny results. To finish, you can have the students match up the correct “why” with the correct “because”.
This classic party game is another that is great for practicing vocabulary. To get started, choose a random student to come up to the front and pick one of the cards that you prepared for the Pictionary activity mentioned above. Instead of drawing to elicit the chosen word, the student must act out the word without speaking. In larger classes, it might work better to have two teams, with one player from each team acting out the word at the same time. The first team to guess the correct word wins the point. To make it more competitive, you can keep a running score for a month and award prizes to the winning team.
This fun activity offers yet another way to learn and practice vocabulary. Start by writing a simple four letter word on the board. Then the students are tasked with producing a new word by changing only one letter. When a student has an answer they can come to the board and write it underneath the last. During the activity, make sure the students have the opportunity to ask for a definition of any words that they are unfamiliar with. Keep going until they have run out of ideas or the time runs out.
Would You Rather
This is another simple activity that can help you learn a little more about your students. All you need is a pre-prepared list of questions starting with “Would you rather…?” These can be simple questions such as, “Would you rather eat an apple or an orange?” Or more complex questions such as, “Would you rather live in the 19th or the 21st century?” Once you have asked the question, the students move to one side of the room or the other depending on their answer. The teacher can then ask a few students from each side to explain why they gave that particular answer.
On some occasions, particularly with higher level groups, it is useful to spend a few minutes on open questions where students can ask about material that you have covered in recent lessons. They could also ask cultural questions or about unknown vocabulary that they have come across. Ideally, other students will be able to answer the questions, but if not then a straightforward explanation from the teacher can be very helpful to the students’ progress.
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