English as a second language (ESL) students of all ages can benefit from starting class with a warm-up activity. Jumping right in to speaking and understanding English can sometimes be jarring. No matter what the topic of the day's lesson, a good warm-up will help students clear their minds and focus on English.
Stand Up Sit Down
This short warm-up is especially effective with younger children. Before class, the teacher writes a variety of commands on the board, such as "stand up," "sit down," "spin," "jump," "hop" and "clap." When class starts, the teacher can have students sit on the floor in front of the board. The teacher calls out "stand up!" and students jump to their feet, then he says "sit down!" for them to sit.
The teacher calls out each of the commands at random, pointing to them if necessary. She can speed up the tempo to give students a challenge and a bit more exercise. Each day, teachers can add a new command on the board, increasing the students' vocabulary every time they do the warm-up.
Many ESL classes spend a few days or longer focusing on one topic, such as food, careers or transportation. To review the most current topic at the beginning of class, teachers can have students sit in a circle on the floor with them. The teacher can start a "slap, clap, pause" rhythm by slapping her knees, clapping her hands and pausing. Once all students are playing the rhythm, the teacher says the topic name in the pause, for example, "food," or more specifically, "vegetables." In the next pause, the student to the teacher's right must say a word that falls within that topic, like "carrots." The warm-up continues around until it's the teacher's turn again, and then she can change the topic. Teachers can speed up the tempo to challenge students to think fast.
Word of the Day
This warm-up will get students thinking about English words and definitions. Before students enter the classroom, the teacher writes a new word on the board. As students enter, they can see the word and begin thinking about it.
When class starts, the teacher starts by asking someone to pronounce the word, and corrects them if necessary. The teacher then asks whether the students think it is a noun, verb or adjective and why. Next, the teacher says a sentence that uses the word and writes it on the board. He can then have students discuss what they think the definition is. Finally, the teacher chooses one student to get the classroom dictionary and look up the word. She can read the definition to the class and they can discuss who had the closest guess.
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