Make Waves in Your English Lessons: Fresh & Fun Ways to Teach English as a Foreign Language! 

I love teaching English as a foreign language! Yet, creating engaging and challenging lesson plans can be tricky.

This guide gives some ideas to make your English lessons engaging and interactive. It will help improve your students’ listening, speaking, and writing skills.

Engaging Listening Activities for English as a Foreign Language Students

When teaching English as a foreign language, it is common to start by improving the listening skills of students. Here are some fun and engaging listening activities that can be incorporated into your lesson plans to foster a better grasp of the language.

1. Dictation Activities 

While it may seem old-fashioned, modern dictation activities can still be very effective. Consider using multimedia resources such as songs, speeches, or podcasts related to the lesson. You can do this as an individual or group activity where students write down what they hear. Then, compare and discuss their dictations to improve their listening comprehension.

2. ‘Listen and Do’ Tasks 

‘Listen and Do’ activities require you to instruct your students to complete tasks based on what they hear. The tasks can be simple, like drawing a circle, or more complex instructions. The objective is to enhance both their listening and comprehension skills at the same time. This activity is quite engaging as it challenges the students to follow spoken directions accurately.

3. TED Talks 

Using TED Talks as a teaching tool is beneficial for developing listening skills and promoting discussions on a wide range of topics. Students can listen to the talks, take notes on the main points, and engage in a class discussion. If the content proves to be too difficult, instructors can offer transcripts or adjust the video playback speed.

4. Interactive Storytelling 

One way to enhance student creativity and language comprehension is to read a story aloud and then challenge them to add their own unique elements to it. This not only encourages critical thinking and imagination but also helps them to understand the story and its underlying themes better. 

Engaging Speaking Activities for English as a Foreign Language Students

As an English teacher, you have the power to foster confident and fluent speakers among your students. You can encourage the natural expression of ideas and help your students feel at ease sharing their thoughts. Ultimately, it’s all about nurturing their skills and creating a supportive environment where they can grow and thrive.

1. Thematic Group Discussions 

Encouraging students to participate in thematic group discussions helps them develop conversational skills in various topics. Each session is focused on a specific theme or topic, allowing students to expand their vocabulary and expressions while enhancing their listening and speaking abilities. This method of interactive learning fosters communication among peers and provides opportunities for students to apply their knowledge in real-world situations.

2. Free Talking Sessions 

Having free talking sessions is a diverse approach to promote fluency in English. These sessions enable students to practice their speaking skills without any restrictions. Offering conversation starters or prompts can help initiate more spontaneous discussions. This technique also helps students in improving their improvisation skills, as well as their pronunciation and intonation. Moreover, students can receive valuable feedback from the sessions.

3. Role Playing 

Role-playing is a useful technique that can immerse students in real-world scenarios and help them practice their English speaking skills. By assuming various roles, such as a doctor or a customer, students can develop fluency and gain confidence in using English in everyday situations. This practical approach offers a valuable opportunity for students to enhance their language skills.

4. Debate Clubs 

Creating a debate club can help students enhance their argumentative abilities and expand their vocabulary. It also enables them to learn how to express various opinions and viewpoints, while refining their persuasion tactics and critical thinking skills. This not only boosts their language skills but also encourages active participation and constructive argumentation.

It’s important to remember that exposing students to diverse linguistic situations is crucial for developing fluency. Providing unique environments to express themselves can break down barriers, boost their confidence, and promote free speech.

Innovative Writing Exercises to Teach English as a Foreign Language

1. Adopting Creative Writing Prompts 

Inspiring your students to express their creativity through writing can be a challenge. One effective strategy is to offer engaging prompts that ignite their imagination. A great example is to prompt them to write about their favourite season without using typical seasonal symbols or months. These prompts encourage students to think outside the box and improve their language abilities.

2. Implementing Text Reconstruction 

A helpful exercise to develop writing and comprehension skills for students is text reconstruction. Firstly, assign a short story or article for reading and then request that they recall and reconstruct it from memory. This technique not only improves writing skills but also enhances memory and comprehension.

For a fun twist, divide the students into groups, distribute different parts of the same story among them, and let each group reconstruct their part. Once done, combine the re-constructed story segments and compare them with the original narrative. 

3. Exploring ‘Parallel Writing’ 

One effective method for students to enhance their writing abilities is parallel writing. This technique entails composing alongside a provided source text as a reference model. This approach offers a structure that aids students in overcoming the difficulties associated with writing. To practice parallel writing, teachers can encourage students to develop a comparable piece to a model text, utilising the same tone, style, or story structure. This exercise can assist students in comprehending the structure and style of various writing types.

4. Sentence Transformation Exercises 

Transforming sentences is an excellent method to improve writing abilities. Students can take a basic sentence and alter it in different ways, such as changing “The cat chased the mouse” to “The mouse swiftly darted away when being chased by the cat.” This helps students enhance their writing skills and strengthens their grasp of grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

5. The Versatility of Journal Writing 

Journal writing is a valuable tool in an English classroom, allowing students to practise their writing skills regularly. By writing daily in English, students can freely express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, which aids in vocabulary enrichment and grammatical correctness. Additionally, journal writing allows students to witness their progress first-hand, further boosting their confidence in their English writing abilities. 

Creative Ways to Teach Grammar and Vocabulary to English as a Foreign Language Students

Learning grammar and vocabulary is essential when studying English, but it can be difficult for EFL students.  Here are some methods to help you add creativity to your vocabulary and grammar lessons.

1. Contextual Learning through Songs and Movies 

As part of the ‘authentic learning strategies’, songs and movies provide a comfortable setting for students to acquire vocabulary and grammar rules. This approach immerses learners in context, native pronunciation, colloquial terms, and everyday language, all of which enhance their comprehension and practical use.

2. Word and Grammar Games 

Games such as ‘Hangman’, ‘Scrabble’, and ’20 Questions’ can be excellent tools to teach vocabulary and ensure active participation. Moreover, grammar games like ‘Sentence Race’, ‘Conjunction Junction’, and ‘Grammar Ninja’ are fun, interactive ways to teach rules and structures. 

3. Flashcards and Story Cubes 

Flashcards and story cubes are traditional teaching tools that can engage learners effectively. They are helpful in building vocabulary and illustrating grammar usage. Flashcards’ visual cues enhance memory retention, while story cubes stimulate creativity and the practical application of language rules.

4. Building and Maintaining a Word Wall 

Having a word wall in the classroom creates a language-rich atmosphere. This display showcases a variety of words, including their meanings, synonyms, antonyms, and how to use them in sentences. Categorising words by their parts of speech and introducing new terms frequently ensures ongoing education.

5. Involving Technology 

Incorporating technology into lessons can enhance their appeal and interactivity for students. There are countless resources, such as YouTube tutorials, grammar apps, and interactive websites, that can help. 

Explore 13 Grammar Games and Activities for Fun Learning

Incorporating Project-Based Learning to Teach English as a Foreign Language

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a great way to teach English as a second language. Students work on a project for a longer period to solve real-world problems and showcase their skills.

1. Choose a relevant project 

Begin by selecting a project that aligns with the student’s interests or real-life experiences. This project could entail creating a business plan, designing an eco-friendly city, or producing a culture magazine. The greater the students’ interest in the project, the more invested they will be in the learning process.

2. Assign roles to students 

Dividing the project into roles can accommodate different learning styles and language proficiency levels. This approach allows each student to contribute based on their strengths, promoting collaborative learning and valuing everyone’s input towards the project as a whole.

3. Integrate regular checkpoints 

Having regular feedback and revision stages ensures students are on the right track. These could include class presentations, peer reviews, or check-ins with the teacher to gauge progress and make necessary adjustments. 

4. Celebrate their achievement 

When presenting projects, it’s important to not only assess students but also acknowledge their hard work. This recognition can greatly increase their confidence and motivation to learn English. It’s crucial to remember that in project-based learning, the journey is just as important as the destination. Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process, and it’s essential to create a safe environment for students to take risks and learn from their errors.

Explore 18 English Project Ideas You Can Do Right Now!

Last Thought

“Teaching impacts lives. You have the power to shape your students’ English learning.”

Teaching English as a foreign language can be challenging, but with creativity, a desire to learn, and consistent upskilling, it can become smoother and more rewarding. Incorporate these ideas into your lessons and keep innovating in your teaching methods.

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