Published 30th March 2018

One of the best tricks to have when you are an EFL teacher is to have a stash of activities up your sleeve for those moments when your lesson finishes ten minutes early or you realise you don’t have enough time to complete an activity so you don’t even start it. We all have these activities; some of the more common ones are Taboo, Pictionary, Hangman and Twenty Questions.

Since this is possibly the most important part of your teaching toolkit, we thought we’d give you a few more to add it to, but this time we’ll give you a few ideas for some more alternative activities:

Grab the pen

Have your students sit across the table or desk from each other, so they are in pairs facing each other. Each person in the pair is in a different team. Put a pen on the table between each pair. The teacher asks a question and each student must try to grab the pen. The first one to grab the pen can answer the question and win a point for their team if it’s correct.

The Why game

Hand out two slips of paper to each student. On one slip of paper each student must write a Why? question; on the other they should write the reason, starting with Because. Collect all the papers and jumble them up before handing out two papers to each student again – one Why? and one Because. Students must mingle and read their questions to the other students to try and find the corresponding reason. In the meantime they might find some amusing answers!

I have never

Based on a popular party game, this activity can be as tame or as interesting as you like.  The teacher starts by making a statement beginning with I have never. For example, I have never ridden a motorbike. Whoever has never ridden a motorbike must stay seated but whoever has ridden a motorbike must stand up. Each student gets a turn to come up with a statement (which must be true). Encourage follow-up questions after each question for anyone who has stood up. This is a great way to get to know your class!

Would you rather…?

This works especially well if you have an interactive whiteboard. Give the class a statement beginning with Would you rather…? Your statements can range from simple – Would you rather be on the beach or in bed? to unusual and thought-provoking – Would you rather have no arms or no legs? If you can have this written on the board it will help your students understand the statements properly. The students must make a decision and stand on the side of the classroom allocated to their choice. You can then ask a few students for their opinions before moving on to the next question.

Having a few extra minutes in your lesson happens to the best of us and it’s nothing to worry about. All you need to do is make sure you have a few activities like these ones up your sleeve and no one will even know you hadn’t planned it.