Imagination in Class
The last resort...Ever had one - or more - of these days when your students are utterly bored and restless? When the sound of grammar exercises or an exam writing task simply ignites raised eyebrows and mumbling at the back and front of the class....
Apart from the bell, there is one thing that can save the day: imagination
Before reading some activities below, allow me to clarify that I understand some educators' objections to using an imaginary world. Their concerns are based on the premise that education should not mislead learners or give them a false idea of the world e.g. that a fairy godmother will grant all their wishes effortlessly.
Yet, I feel that once signposting the task as fictional by beginning instructions with the phrase "Imagine that...." , we draw clearly the line and stir the class away from the stagnant waters of daily routine. From my experience, it conveys the message to students that the "English" hour can be a fun lesson developing creativity, thinking outside the box (lateral thinking) and reinvigorates classes that have reached saturation point by doing tedious, repetitive tasks.
1. Email from another planet ( A1-B2 CEFR levels)
Sick and tired of asking students to describe their daily routine? Do they all come up with identical pieces of writing? Ask them to imagine they live on another, strange planet.
"What's a day like on Mars or Venus?" " Do aliens have coffee, milk and croissants for breakfast?" "Do they wake up early in the morning or late in the afternoon?" " How do they go to school?" Ask students such questions to stimulate their imagination and state openly that they should come up with unusual daily routines. Here is a sample of what they may write:
2. My pet monster ( A1-B2 CEFR levels)
Ask pupils to imagine they have a pet monster. Draw an example on the board ( I usually draw a cute monster with three heads , five legs, 6 arms etc) Ask them to draw their pet monster on their notebook but they must not show their partner. If you need to encourage writing you can ask them to write a brief description:
Boo is my pet monster. It has got 3 heads and a big smile on the heads. It has also got .....
Then ask them to work in pairs. Student A describes his/her monster and Student B draws it. They are not allowed to look at each other's drawings until they've finished the description and drawing. Then they compare the two monsters. Finally, they swap roles and student B describes while student A draws.
A particularly popular activity among young learners who practice "have got", numbers, parts of the body and colors (if they have colour pencils with them).
3. An unusual job application (B2-C2 CEFR levels)
Students - even adults - tend to convey a completely misleading image of themselves in a cover letter. Relying on copying from models, they usually fail to persuade their potential employers about their motivation and skills. This can result in having their C.V. rejected without being given an opportunity for an interview. The following activity can raise awareness:
Show the following clip Awesome interview in class and pause before the candidate gives unexpected answers. Elicit what a conventional interview would be like and what a prospective employer expects to hear.
Ask students to: " Write an unusual cover letter" Challenge them to write a letter giving all the wrong reasons why they are applying and wrong or irrelevant skills.
The style and register will have to be formal and they should use their sense of humour.
Once they finish, read or show the letters on the class projector and vote for the most humorous or unconventional one.
Debunking teaching myths and practices with seemingly subversive activities can motivate learners, help teachers shake off the "boring lecturer" label and lead to creative learning paths.
Enjoy the trip!!! :)