Teaching English: July 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 look at how to start a lesson and get students hooked.

How to make it interesting

Knowing what you need to teach is one thing; knowing how to teach it is something else. A good teacher is like a magician, capable of randomly producing things from up their sleeve to keep their audience attentive. Always be conscious of how you could lift a lesson with one of these games or tasks. Sometimes students need to get away from
their books and just use English for a specific purpose, and games such as some of these below add a competitive edge.


Warmers are an important part of a lesson. They aren’t just there to fill time while you figure out what page they’re on today. A simple warmer should be either used to review the previous lesson or set the scene for the day’s class. If done well, students become interested and are then easily led into the main task.

Memory game  

The teacher says: ‘I went to the market and bought a pig.’ The first student repeats and adds another object, and so on until someone forgets the order. Choose students at random to ensure they all have to memorise the list, and make sure they don’t write anything down. It’s impressive how far the list can go before someone trips up. A good way to remember is to link the different items through visual images, so if an elephant, car and apple are mentioned you think of an elephant squeezed into a car munching on an apple. As the teacher, it’s wise to write down the list so you don’t forget!

Verbs and adverb

Give students coloured paper strips. On one colour they write a verb and on the other an adverb. Put students in pairs or teams. Student A picks a verb and an adverb and acts it out. Student B guesses which of the words the student has chosen and is awarded a point for each correct one. Examples could include ‘walks nervously’, ‘swims crazily’, ‘talks quietly’, brushes his teeth carefully’. The teacher should model this first so students are clear what is required.

Initial letters

Give students a letter and tell them to write as many words starting with that letter. For higher level groups, make it verbs/adjectives/food/animals etc starting with that letter.


Give students a colour and tell them to write down as many objects that are this colour (blue hat, blue table, blue book don’t count).

Quick on the draw

Two teams. Show one student a word and tell him/her to draw it on the board. First team to guess the word gets a point. Examples: food, household objects, office objects, animals, verbs.

Snake game

Give students a word and tell them to make a new word that starts with the last letter of the first word. Students continue to write as many as they can within a time limit. Example: egg, goose, elephant, teapot. For more action, use a small ball to throw between students and make this a speaking game. This ensures everyone is awake or they run the risk of a ball landing on their head. For advanced students limit the words to certain groups, such as sport or food.