In this post, I am describing 5 ways to end your English class on a high note. I have been using these ideas with my young learners (11 and 12) but, hopefully, some of them may resonate with other age groups as well.
I started teaching 1-2-1 classes with kids (should I be calling them tweens?) in November and it took me some time to get over the fact that it is just me and my learner in class for 90 minutes (!!!). One of the fixed elements of my classes has been putting aside the last 10 mins of each lesson for the end-of-class-activity. The main function of these is to let my students unwind after a pretty intensive class, revise whatever we covered in class, and, most importantly, provide some fun so that they leave the lesson thinking they won’t mind coming again next week (mind you, the time slot for my English classes competes with after-class table tennis and dance!).
#1 Message for the teacher (5 mins)
I have recently bought these speech bubble magnets at Tiger and they soon became some of my students’ favourite props. One of the ways in which I have been using them is asking my students to select as many bubbles as they want and leave some messages for me on the board. They can write whatever they want as long as it is a positive message in English about the class or their life (no hate speech bubbles, please!).
When I first started, I received mostly pretty vague messages like I like you / You are nice, but as this activity became a fixed element of many of the classes my students also became more outspoken: I like playing games with the dice / I like talking about animals / I know good – better – best. I am the best student./ I play on Playstation in English and I like it. These tiny messages started serving as lesson summaries and a great form of feedback concerning my students’ likes and preferences. Magnetic speech bubbles are just a prop here, it works with paper notes which you might read after your student leaves the class and come back to them at the beginning of the next class.
#2 If this is an X then this is a Y (5 mins)
The aim here is to revise vocabulary and to activate students’ imagination. Choose the topic you would like to revise with your students (animals) and point to the classroom saying: If this is a zoo then this (point to the chair) is …? The student should say a name of an animal. Then it is their turn to start and point to another object in the room. When you finish the sentence make sure to throw in a wrong word from time to time to check your students’ understanding and whether they are paying attention:
S: If this is a zoo then this is….?
T: A book!
T: A helicopter!
T: A tiger!
It is usually fun, fast-paced, and kids get very creative (one of the items found in the zoo was a brush because animals must be cleaned somehow, right?!) This little game has been also useful when revising a/an/some and this/these.
#3 Music: visualisation (5-10 mins)
The aim of this activity is to let my students relax towards the end of the class and unleash their imagination. You will need a music track (instrumental works better, if there are lyrics it is great if your students don’t understand them) that creates a certain mood. Ask your students to get comfortable (I allow getting comfortable on the floor) and close their eyes. Tell them to listen to the music and just let their minds wander. Play the track for a couple of minutes. After you stop it, ask your students some questions:
- where were you?
- what did you see?
- what did you do?
- how did you feel?
I sometimes ask my students to draw a picture of what they imagined (although it might take longer than you would expect) or draw smaller pictures of their answers. To choose tracks, I usually go to Spotify and browse by genres. So far, I have experimented with classical music, gentle house, country, Bollywood, and techno. My students’ ideas often exceeded my expectations and some crazy drawing were made. Additional benefit: practicing past tenses and loads of vocabulary emerging in a meaningful context.
#4 Vocabulary treasure hunt (10 mins)
I have been using this idea to both start and finish the class. Put around 10 words (the ones you want to revise/your student will be exposed to during the course of the class) on small pieces of paper and hide them around the classroom (make sure you remember where you hid them!). If you choose to do this at the end of the lesson, ask your students to leave the room for a couple of minutes.
Your students’ task is to find all the words and then, depending on the kind of vocabulary you chose:
- group the words into categories
- choose 5 words and show/draw their meaning
- choose 5 words and use them in a sentence
- choose 5 words and spell them
- choose 5 words and give you their opposites/comparative forms (adjectives!!!)
- choose 5 words and ask you questions containing these words
This game has been all the rage with my kids and for some reason it is NOT getting old at all! I have started using it to work with not only vocabulary but also grammar (preparing small pieces of paper with gapped sentences / situation cards). I am slowly running out of places to hide these little scraps but seeing my students super enthused and engaged is really worth it.
#5 Over to you (5-10 mins)
Probably the easiest way to make a young student happy is to let them do whatever they want to do to in class i.e. to let them choose the final activity. I started very cautiously, giving my students 3 options to choose from (usually short revision games, some of which I described here) but they wanted to take control pretty quickly and the bargaining stage began. Luckily, they soon realised that they key to a successful activity pitch was ENGLISH and stopped pushing for “playing on my phone time”, although my male student made a very emotional plea once, explaining WHY the game was so important to him (in English!), and I had no other choice than in fact let him play. Letting my students choose how to end the class has one more advantage: I am able to see them enthusiastically suggesting that we play game X, Y or Z, which means that they truly like it and remember it.
If you have any other ideas how to end the class leaving your students with a smile on their faces, please let me know in the comments below. Thank you!