How To Make Ordinary Teaching Topics Interesting
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In EFL, we often find ourselves teaching topics which we have taught a thousand times before – family, crime, global warming, education and technology, to name a few of the usual suspects. There are good reasons these topics keep cropping up in coursebooks again and again, but the problem is, if we’ve dealt with them before you can imagine how many times our students have done them! The solution to make teaching topics interesting is to find new topics and ways to jazz them up in the classroom.
Four ways to make teaching topics interesting
Visuals make everything better. They are not there to just introduce a topic; they can be used in any number of ways to spice up your topic. Using images is nothing new to the EFL classroom, but how often do you use video? If your classroom is equipped for video, it is a great way to get your students’ attention and keep them interested in the topic.
Flip the lesson
Sometimes all you need to do is turn your lessons upside down. Instead of tackling the coursebook in your lesson, assign the “boring” work for your students for homework. Class time can be spent discussing the topic and dealing with any queries on the language. Students never complain about being able to talk during class, so even if the topic is a bit tired they’ll still be happy to get involved in a discussion.
Think outside the box
When you turn the topic into a speaking lesson, why not add in extra elements as well? Think of different angles related to the topic which you can discuss. For example, if the topic is family, you can discuss what it must be like to a member of a royal family; if the topic is global warming, you can look at different inventions which are trying to deal with the issue. Even if the general topic is the same you can always think of different aspects of it to talk about; how outrageous and controversial you want to go depends entirely on your students.
The easiest way to make a topic interesting is to relate it to our own and our students’ lives. We all love talking about ourselves and our lives are all different – even if we are the same nationality – so personalizing a topic will introduce loads of discussion points, and you can be sure your students will never get tired of talking about themselves!
When you are faced with dealing with the same tired topic, instead of approaching it the way you always do, think how you can tackle it from a fresh angle to get more mileage out of it.
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