Published 9th January 2017

One of the most important factors affecting learning is the learning environment. Students need to be relaxed and feel safe enough to focus on learning. They need to feel comfortable enough to be able to make mistakes and they should feel like the teacher is there to guide them, not test them. This is why the relationships between learners (and learners and teachers) needs to be cultivated and a good learning environment maintained.

Here are a few of our favourite activities you can use for new classes or at the beginning of a term for your students to get to know each other better.

Pizza slices

The teacher models the activity by drawing a pizza on the board, divided into slices. In each slice, draw a picture of something that is meaningful to you. Once your picture is complete, the students must guess what the pictures mean and ask you questions for more information and clarity.

For example, if you draw a dog, the students can ask How many dogs do you have? Do you have any other pets? What kind of dog do you have?

The students then draw their own pizzas and repeat the activity with their classmates.

Facts and figures

This works in a similar way to the above activity, but instead of drawing pictures, write down words or numbers which are in some way related to your life.

For example: 1, Norfolk, Thailand

Here the students need to guess how the words and numbers relate to your life by making guesses or asking questions: How many children do you have? Were you born in Norfolk? Have you ever been to Thailand?

Once the students have identified your numbers and figures they do the same with their classmates.

(Both of these activities also work well with higher classes to recap question formation.)

Toilet Roll

Take a toilet roll into class. Without giving reasons, tell the students to each take some toilet paper. They can take as many squares as they want, or just one. Do not provide any instructions at this point, only that they should take some toilet paper.

When everybody has some toilet paper, get them to count their squares. For every toilet paper square, they must tell the class (or their partner) something about themselves.

Creating a good classroom atmosphere is very important and the first lesson with a new class is a good time to start. Taking a break from grammar and vocabulary activities and allowing your students to get to know each other will go a long way towards establishing an effective learning environment.