Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Teaching children English can be incredibly rewarding for both the students and the teacher. Sometimes the biggest challenge can be in finding the correct balance between ‘learning’ and ‘fun.’ It is certainly true that enjoying the learning process can increase retention of information as well as motivate a deeper interest in the subject at hand.
Here are 5 tools that have produced very positive results for the Bulldog team (click titles for links).
Kahoot is an online quiz platform that uses a main screen, such as a projector or laptop to display questions while students answer using a device such as a mobile phone or tablet.
The main concern with this tool was that with their devices to hand the students would immediately be distracted and it would be a nightmare in moderation. HOWEVER, we marketed the Quiz as a kind of weekly/fortnightly/monthly treat, maintaining a scoreboard in class.
It is incredibly easy to make a quiz and requires zero technical ability. Simply write the questions related to your current vocabulary or grammar set and add some images to make it a little more visually engaging. Since the questions are created by yourself, you can quiz your students on absolutely anything.
The Quiz can be individual or team based. The students enter the PIN displayed on the main screen to enter the game. As moderator you can kick people out, so the rules are clear, any inappropriate names and you get booted, any inappropriate use of your device and you get booted etc
Very engaging and fun way to test your students without them feeling like they are being ‘tested.’
I have found that by marketing this to the class as a ‘Quiz’ they seem more relaxed and engaged. This can have a knock on effect on their actual test results.
Why not have an interclass league!
If you don’t have time to make your own quiz, try one of those already existing in the archive. Every quiz has the option to be visible to the online community, so there is a wealth of pre-prepared quizzes on all manner of topics.
Try our Kahoot! quiz here
A standard box of story cubes contains 9 cubes, there are special editions including fantasy genre and larger boxes.
Again this tool works well with small, one to one or group classes. There are a variety of ways to approach using the cubes, you can layer a story to maximise vocabulary and language use. For example, just to start you might want to do 9 cubes thrown one by with a minimum speaking time of 15 seconds on each cube (alternate students). You can make a basic story, typing up the story as it is told, follow up by analysing the errors. The next stage could be developing the story, how can you improve on the language, perhaps introduce modifiers, adverbs, better or new vocabulary. As a project you could build a collection of short stories, or chapters following the same characters. In which case you can workshop the characters, maybe each student creates two of their own characters, draws them, describes them and they create their own world for these stories to take place in. The creative potential is infinite and infinitely fun.
A fantastic selection of games that can be played on a laptop or on a projected screen. A selection of the games can be downloaded which can make use in the classroom a little easier.
The scores are shared internationally, which we found was something of a competitive motivator for students who like to see the names of other students and their country displayed alongside their own.
Another Asmodee product. This tool is better for smaller groups or one to one. Much like the story cubes, this tool allows for an increased complexity. It's essentially a variation on the game ‘snap!’ The player must find the matching image on the card in the centre to the card in their hand and say its name, before either taking the card or getting rid of their own (depending if you play most cards or no cards wins).
On the basic level, we pre-taught the vocabulary for all the images on the cards and had students create their own cheat sheet, drawing a version of the symbols with the name next to it.
This is the noun version. Once they are comfortable, try verbs, assign a verb to each image. Next try adjectives or adverbs.
An easy to use and really fun tool for projects. This can be used either to support a class survey or perhaps as part of a homework assignment on a topic from your curriculum. We have also used this in one to one classes, asking students to interview their family on their voting preferences in the upcoming elections.
The data can be presented in a number of interesting ways and students become very engaged in the process and proudly present their findings. Always look great on a classroom wall or as part of a presentation.