Published 24th August 2017
Generally speaking, for our learners, the most time they spend with English is in the classrooms. They come to our lessons to spend the hour or so learning new language and how to use it appropriately. They use our classroom as a refuge, where they can leave the rest of their lives outside the door and focus only on learning English. By the same token this may mean they leave their English in the classroom when they leave.
But what if there was a way for our students to be interacting with the language even when they are not in the classroom? This would increase their exposure to the language and help them integrate the language into their everyday lives.
As teachers, there are a few ways we can encourage our students to do this and they have very little to do with the classroom.
Encourage your students to watch movies in English. If you are in an English-speaking environment, organise outings to the cinema. If you are in a foreign country, discuss with your students how they can watch their favourite DVDs with subtitles to increase their exposure to natural spoken English.
Start a book club
Start an informal book club with your students. Each week (or second week, or month) students take five minutes to tell each other what English book they are reading and if they would recommend it.
Teaching in a multicultural environment allows for a lot of opportunities to share information about culture and nationality. Make a calendar of dinner dates where students cook traditional or popular food from their country for a few of their classmates.
The idea of penpals may seem a little outdated but communicating with other students is something students love to do. Social media makes things a little easier these days. Organise with another school so that your students can become Facebook friends or create Whatsapp groups so that groups of students can communicate with each other.
Incorporate a daily news bulletin into your lessons in which students can update each other on current events. If this is a sporadic, unplanned event every once in a while it should encourage your students to read the news in order to be able to present should they be called on.
There are many ways our students can interact with English even when they are not in the classroom. Sometimes our students just need a little inspiration for how they can incorporate English into their daily lives. Introduce these ideas and besides stirring up interest in the authentic use of English they will increase their exposure to the language.