Teaching English: August copy 


Teaching English is written by award-winning writer Mark Beales (Lonely Planet, Insight Guides, Bangkok Post). To download the book on Amazon, iTunes, Lulu or Kobo, Google ‘Teaching English Mark Beales’. 

Or you could have a look at Mark’s other ebook: ‘The Ultimate Guide to Pattaya 2014’. 

This month we continue our look at some great ways to get students interested in learning English. 

Getting students interested in your lesson is often the first battle. A quick warmer activity is the ideal way to get everyone focused, engaged and ready to move on to the main part of the lesson. Here are some simple warmers that work for most age groups and abilities: 

In the Mix 

Write a long word on the board. Students then have to make as many words from it as possible. Example: spaghetti – it, past, get, hit. 



An old favourite and much-maligned by many, but it can still be a useful way to review vocabulary. 

Easy as ABC 

Write the alphabet on the board. Pick a letter and a category and ask students to name something starting with that letter. Example, A and fruit – apple. B and verb – bring. With wide, open themes you can ask groups of students to find something to fit each letter, eg, food, countries or animals. 

Truth or Lies?

Give five statements, and say two of them are true. For an introductory lesson, it’s good to write about yourself; for other classes you could pose general statements. 

Spelling tennis

 Two teams. The teacher shouts out a word and points at one student, who must say the first letter of the word. Point at a student from the other team, who must say the second letter, and so on. Model this first with an easy word such as ‘dog’ and they’ll understand far quicker than if you explain it. 

Touch game

 Two teams. Pick two students from each team to stand up. Give them an order, such as ‘touch your nose’, ‘hold up three pens’ and award a point to the fastest. To make things interesting, try ‘give me 10 dollars’ or ‘touch that tree outside’. This can get pretty noisy, so it’s a good one to play at the end of a lesson. 


Give one student a word which he/she has to explain to the class. Give them two other associated words which they are not allowed to use. Obviously, you can make this as simple or as complex as you wish. It’s an ideal way to force students to use improvisational techniques to achieve their goal. 


Write a word on a slip of paper and show it to one student, who must then act it out. First team to guess wins a point (examples: sad, happy, wet, angry, laugh). Scategories - Write several subjects on the board, going across horizontally: animal, film, food, drink, boys’ name, and then have a student pick a letter. Write the letter to the left of the first subject. Students then work on their own to find words for each category that start with the given letter. For example: B – animal (bat), food, (banana) colour, (brown) city (Boston). Some teachers call this game ‘stop the bus!’ as this is what students have to call out when they’ve finished. We’ve no idea why. 

20 questions

 The teacher thinks of an object/person/place and students have 20 questions to figure out what it is. It may be an old parlour game, but it forces students to ask yes/no questions, and you’d be amazed at how they’re able to guess the most obscure things. 



 Choose four random numbers 1-10 and then four numbers from 10, 25, 50 and 100. Pick a three digit number then ask students to get the number. Make sure they explain in English. Review ‘add, multiply, divide, subtract’ before you start!