Six original topical teaching ideas for June

A couple of "birthday"-type activities included this month!

Another one of the great monthly teaching ideas list. I consider these my “open source” or “creative commons” materials writing. Go ahead and run with any of them!

1. Discuss Historical photos! June 4th is the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, which sent this photo around the world. Find (better, ask your students to find and bring in) some other iconic, historical photos and put these around the room. Students work in pairs and walk around the room, discussing the photos they see and what they know about these events.

2. Go royal! There are two royal anniversaries in June: June 2 is the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and June 8 is her official birthday. You could make a quiz using information found here… but if that just sticks in your throat as too royalist then how about the following? The Queen sends special birthday messages to English people 100 years and older (see more here). Get students to write a Happy Birthday message to someone else in the class as if they were 100 or 105. 

3. Rewrite the Happy Birthday song! June 27th is the 150th anniversary of the composer of the Happy Birthday song – Mildred Hill. I read somewhere that her estate still gets royalties every time the song is played on the radio or tv or such. Can you imagine?!? Anyway, why not get students to write their own lyrics to the song? E.g. (to the tune of Happy Birthday) It’s the end of the year, it’s the end of the year, it’s the end of the year-ear… let’s all go have a beer!

4. Get hot and bothered in a role play! If you’re teaching in the northern hemisphere then on June 21 summer starts. I once wrote a whole set of mini role plays called “Heat Wave”, in each role play people are getting angry with each other on a hot, sweltering day. You can still find it buried at Onestopenglish  here. And I’ve just checked, it’s still free! Don’t delay, get it now before they close the loophole! There’s a free worksheet, role cards and teacher’s notes! Download download download…

5. Teach UP. Alright, I figure that the new 3D Pixar movie UP is going to have the same title pretty much everywhere, and what self-respecting English teacher can pass up on teaching a few phrasal verbs? Perhaps a quick brainstorm activity on as many phrasal verbs with UP that the students can think of, then use this to get at what “up” means (e.g. often a sense of completion, moving upwards, preventing or restricting, beginning to happen…) If you have access to a copy of this book then check page 486-489 for the full treatment.

6. Sing a song! I recently finished my beginner course with a group of twenty adults and they asked to do something I haven’t done in years: sing a song. Well, we did and I had forgotten what a great experience it can be to do that with a class. It was really a lot of fun, even though we massacred the song in question. Later on this month I’m going to post six songs that are great to singalong to with students, so stayed tuned for that one!

Published in: on June 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great ideas yet again Lindsay!

    If anyone decides to ‘Go Royal’ here’s a quiz on the Royal Family which may need a bit of updating but could come in handy:


  2. Lovely ideas Lindsay! Thnx for the hot roleplay and how cool to learn about the happy birthday song… you’ve given me a week’s worth of post-task (hmwk) activities.


  3. Lindsay,

    Nice list! Number five will never work here in Moscow where I’m currently doing some work. The title of ‘Up’ is Вверх 🙂

    • Ah, now that’s interesting. I was sure the title would stay the same in many different countries (short, easy to pronounce and spell). Anyway, I’m sure most teachers won’t let that get in the way of some phrasal verbs 😉

  4. I think I’ll try #6 with my class next week – we’ll try Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, complete with make-up and live python…

  5. With regard to pre-teaching, I agree that it is important to develop a strategic approach to working out meaning from context. But there are times when we use reading texts in the classroom not as a means of skills development but as a spingboard for some other activity, e.g. grammar presentation, a discussion, or as a model for writing. In which case, is it necessary to have the students belabour a text, working out the meaning of every word? And isn’t it on occasions motivating to experience immediate comprehension without having to struggle for it?
    In a recent study (Hancioglu and Everidge, 2007 Texts and frequency lists… ELT Journal 61/4) the researchers showed how – by selecting 6 words for pre-teaching across a range of different authentic texts – they could push the familiar vocabulary over the 95% cut-off point that is now generally agreed as the measure of comfortable fluency in reading. They conclude “that one of the most helpful approaches a teacher can adopt when teaching reading is to pre-teach a limited number of the most frequently occuring unknown words in the target text” (p. 338). Admittedly, this claim is made solely on the basis of statistical frequency, and the effects of pre-teaching need to be empirically tested, but I think the argument against pre-teaching may need to be qualified.

  6. […] I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my beginner classes asked me if we could sing a song together at the end of the year. When […]

  7. I used the Up trailer in my class this week and I followed up with the story of this fellow who attached balloons to his lawn chair……

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