Realia to the rescue

Published on 11th November, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

This week’s tip gives suggestions on how to use objects the students have to hand. The ideas can be used as colourful practice activities or oral fluency ideas, perhaps to inject life into a lesson, or for those lessons when one has had little time to prepare. 

What’s in your bag? Give students a limited time, eg three minutes, to name 10 things (or fewer) that are in their partner’s bag. At very low levels, it can also be used to practise Have you got? or Is there / Are there?

Where was it made? Students discuss their clothes: what items are made of and where they are from (incidentally this is a very natural, if limited, practice of the passive). This might result in students looking at each others’ clothes labels!

Ask my shoe! Model this activity by removing one of your shoes (assuming your teaching situation allows this), and asking students working in pairs to think of three questions to ask your shoe, eg What’s the muddiest place you’ve walked in? Students can often be very creative in such situations! Respond to their questions as a whole class, in a humorous yet thoughtful way. If this activity appeals, students can then work in pairs to do the same.

Let’s see your phone / watch! Ask students to work in groups of three to compare what their gadgets can and can’t do, in preparation for later feedback. This might also be an appropriate way to practise comparatives.

Meet my friend! Get a pencil, and stick a mini paper head on it. Introduce your ‘friend’, holding up your ‘headed’ pencil, and give the students information about him / her relevant to their level (job, personality, an anecdote, etc). Students then do the same in pairs or threes, using pencils to represent their own friends.