Useful ‘lesson fillers’ to include in an ESL lesson plan

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One of the most annoying things that can happen to a trainee or novice ESL teacher is to suddenly find that the planned work has been completed before the lesson finishes. So that you don’t get caught out, here are three lesson fillers that you can include in your lesson plans.

Twenty Questions In this game, a selected student thinks of an object and the rest of the class has to try to guess it. The selected student must tell the teacher what the object is, and the other students can only ask questions that can be replied to with a yes/no response. The teacher should help the students ask structurally correct questions. For example, “Where can you find this object?” is structurally incorrect because it cannot be answered with a yes/no response. The correct structure would be: “Can you find this object in a garden?” It can be agreed from the start that the object is found in, say, a classroom or some other specific place; otherwise, it will be almost impossible to find it with only twenty questions.

Hangman This is a very popular, well known, and ‘time-honoured’ game. A selected student thinks of a word and tells it to the teacher. The student then writes the word on the blackboard using separated dashes, for example: ‘greenhouse’ would appear as a series of ten dashes – – – – – – – – – -. The other students have to guess the word by calling out the letters of the alphabet: as each letter is called out, the selected student writes it in its correct position on the dashed line or writes it on the side of the board as an incorrect guess. Each incorrect guess corresponds to one line of the man hanging on a gallows. If you visit http://datagenetics.com/blog/april12012/index.html you will see a picture of the hanged man: each line (and the head) corresponds to one guess. So you can have eleven guesses before the game finishes.

Flashcards These can be put to very good effect as lesson fillers. As an ESL teacher, you should make it your goal to make your own flashcards: thirty flashcards for each subject should be adequate. Here’s how you could use the flashcards to play a game: let’s suppose you want to have a quiz on ‘animals’. Divide the class into two groups and show a picture to each group in turn: if the questioned group guesses the name of the animal, it wins the card; if not, the other group gets to guess it. If neither group can guess the animal, the flashcard is put aside. The group that guesses the most animals – wins.

Twenty Questions In this game, a selected student thinks of an object and the rest of the class has to try to guess it. The selected student must tell the teacher what the object is, and the other students can only ask questions that can be replied to with a yes/no response. The teacher should help the students ask structurally correct questions. For example, “Where can you find this object?” is structurally incorrect because it cannot be answered with a yes/no response. The correct structure would be: “Can you find this object in a garden?” It can be agreed from the start that the object is found in, say, a classroom or some other specific place; otherwise, it will be almost impossible to find it with only twenty questions.

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