« Teaching Spots- Call for Comments | Main | Teacher Development- Choosing a Coursebook »

December 15, 2006

Living on a Budget- Paper-less Lessons

Hello Readers,

Photocopying worksheets and chapters out of a book can be time-consuming, expensive (for those of you who don't have access to a photocopier at your school), and bad for the environment. So, what can you do? You know that your students want to be able to take something away from your class, and that worksheets can allow for review of the language learned. Furthermore, they can provide you with a good visual. The answer...

...for grammar, at least, is in the Victoria Holder's book, "Grammar on the Go". This book includes approximately 50 chapters about important grammar points. For example, chapter 1 is entitled, "Count/Noun-count Nouns". Sound boring? Well, it's not.

In this chapter, there are 4 activities. Each activity has a simple and easy to understand lay out, which means minimal preparation is necessary. Each activity includes details about the theme, group size, goal, instructions for the activity, and accountability. Many of the activities include very simple pictures that can be copied easily- even by teachers with no artistic skill whatsoever (trust me, that includes me!).

Here's an example of an activity for count/non-count nouns:

Theme: Picture on an artists' canvas (imagination)
Group size: Two to four very large groups, depending on the layout of your room and the amount of blackboard space
Goal: Get a student at the blackboard to complete a simple picture according to the group's instructions.

1. Put on the blackboard:

a little
a lot of
a small amount of
a little bit

(Included here is a very simple picture of a painter next to his easel that can be copied easily by the teacher).

2. Tell the class the following:

This is Gilbert. He is a painter, and he is going to paint some pictures for you. I will be drawing for Gilbert. You will tell me what to put in each picture- tress, people, buildings, cars, and so on. I will ask you how much or how many of each item to put in the picture; then I will draw it.

Now tell me what to put in the picture.

3. As each student suggests an item, ask how many or how much of it to put in the picture before you draw it. For example, if a student suggests a hill, ask "How many hills?" As the students reply, you may want to point to the list of expressions on the blackboard and review which ones are for count, and which ones are for non-count. Remind the students that they can always use a number for count nouns. Complete the picture.

4. Arrange the class in large groups, either standing or sitting, around separate sections of the blackboard. Quickly sketch a blank canvas (but no Gilbert) for each group. Have a student volunteer to be the artist for each group.

5. Give each group the following instructions:

Tell your artist what you want in your group's picture. Before drawing anything, the artist should ask how much or how many of it to draw. Use the expressions on the blackboard, or a number, to answer. Unless your artist uses "much" or "many" correctly, do not tell him or her how much or how many to draw.

Accountability: When all the students are done, have the students ask and answer questions about them.

This book is easy to use and can be easily adapted to suit your learners' needs. The activities are engaging and can be done in pair work, small groups, or large groups. The language that you are asked to write on the black/whiteboard is simple and clear. Some students remember language better when they use it. For those students who need to write it down, they can still do so in their own notebooks, for review later.

As you can see, it is possible to have entertaining and engaging activities without relying upon photocopies for each student. Though you'll spend some money on the purchase of the book, it'll save you both time and money later on.

For more information about Victoria Holder's "Grammar on the Go", go to:

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

Looking for MORE articles about living on a budget as an ESL teacher? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, and lived and worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at the Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at December 15, 2006 03:14 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)