Like any job, teaching can become as dull and routine as cleaning offices or counting dollar bills. (Though usually not that many dollars come into it!) You, the teacher, trail into the classroom, greet the class, do corrections, present a point or read a text, practice, assign homework, go into the next class and repeat.
The difference between teaching and other jobs, though, is that you can decide to break the mold when things get too repetitive. Of course there's material you have to cover, and a timeline to follow, but the whole lesson doesn't have to go out the window in order to inject some variety into your lessons. Here are a few simple ideas to break out of the doldrums and find some new life in your lessons.
Let your students teach
Assign pairs or groups. Let them know what they will be presenting to the class in the following lesson, set a time limit, and ask them to come up with an original way to do it, for example by using music, movement, a short theater piece or even a piece of art. Even a new grammar point can become fun and memorable in this way.
Make it a game
Almost any aspect of language-learning can be turned into a game. There are ideas all over the Internet – including on this site – and don't assume that if your students are older, or even adults, that they won't profit from or enjoy a bit of play. Having fun makes the brain more receptive to new information, it breaks up the routine of the class and it gives every student a chance to shine. One word of warning: Try not to use the same game ideas over and over, no matter how popular – you defeat the purpose by turning play into another kind of routine.
Talk to your students
Set aside ten minutes or so at the end of the lesson to talk to and listen to your students. Set a topic, or ask students for suggestions. Make it meaningful to them: they've already done the environment and life in other countries, so try talking about their own lives, the place where they live and things that concern them. Do it in English as much as possible, but tolerate lapses. Make real communication the point. Your class will bond, and will become more tolerant of periods of the class when routine and repetition are necessary evils.
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