Making it up as you go along…

I had a brief chat with TalkTEFL after class about how some activities we make up during class work better than the things we plan! Today was a prime example.

My teen class were really lacking a bit of get up and go. We were doing a few activities based on this vocabulary (Beyond A2+, page 80):


They had to underline the words (in bold) related to study and circle those related to work. Then they listened to definitions and matched these to the words. We did a bit of group work (backs to the board-esque) to practise these words/meanings, but they just weren’t buying into it. Energy levels were really low. I needed a stirrer and FAST. Come on, Pete – think like a student! What might be fun?

I made up some categories on the spot, and just wrote something brief on the board to remind the students what to do. Here’s proof that my #ELTwhiteboard doesn’t always look as slick as in past posts.


  1. Teacher says a word from the text. Students say whether the word relates to work or study.
  2. Teacher says a word from the text. Students must say another word (from text, in bold) that comes before said word in the dictionary. Example: teacher says ‘career’, students say ‘business’.
  3. As above but students must say a word that comes after said word in the dictionary
  4. Teacher says a word from the text. Students must say another word (from text, in bold) that is longer than said word. Example: teacher says ‘course’, students say ‘company/qualification/etc’)
  5. Teacher says a word from the text. Students must say which syllable in the word is stressed (main stress)

Which word? – Teacher reads a definition, students must shout out the correct word.

I couldn’t use every word for each category (e.g. ‘full-time job’ wasn’t good for number 5), so I was just careful which number to use. So I’d just say ‘4 – career’, ‘1 – qualifications’, ‘which word – a period of time in the school year?’ etc. The first student to answer won a point for their team.

The categories could have been better, but I was thinking on my feet. Still, the activity worked well:

  • It was a good stirrer – a quickfire game that got the students thinking
  • They found it pretty fun
  • We got to review some work on word stress from last lesson
  • I checked they understood the meanings of the words
  • It was a subtle way to identify pronunciation problems when they shouted the words out
  • I can refine/adapt it and use it again

I think of planning as one of my strengths, but the classroom can be an unpredictable place. I still get the balance wrong sometimes, like today. Oh well, I managed to get the students engaged again and expanded my teaching toolkit, so things worked out alright in the end. I guess sometimes it’s okay to make it up as you go along…

Feature image:

Categories: reflections

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. This sounds like a good vocab exercise. I do think that getting students to do ‘other’ thins with the words they’re aiming to learn can help them embed the target vocab in memory!



  1. Present perfect game | elt planning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: