Make the most of it
For many teachers the coursebook is their primary resource. Make sure the students exploit this material to the maximum.
1. Getting to know the course book
Get students interested or involved in their coursebook the moment they first take possession of it. There are a number of ways you could do.
A. Give students exactly two minutes to leaf through either the students' book or the workbook. As they go through the pages, they have to see how much they can remember (pictures, topic...) without writing anything down. When they have finished, they close their books. Put them into pairs or groups to share everything they can remember.
B. Students have exactly six seconds to look through the book to answer the question: Do all the units have the same sections (grammar, functional language, reading...) in them? What are they? Again, let students compare answers.
C. Students look through either the students' book or the workbook and say:
which their favorite photograph is
which their favorite illustration is
which topic/page looks the most interesting
They can do this in pairs or groups.
2. Choosing homework
Homework is often a real chore for both teachers and students. Yet homework is vitally important since, as we know, the more students do the better at English they get - provided they do it with their full attention and with some enthusiasm. Involving students in homework design may greatly improve motivation. There are a number of techniques we can use.
A. Give students a choice of which homework to do. You could give them three possible exercises from the workbook, from which they choose one.
B. Spend some time allowing students to say what homework they would like to do and what they think would be most useful. Tell them that nothing is off-limits, and see what homework ideas they come up with. Provided the tasks are doable, be prepared to accept most of their suggestions.
C. Divide the class into pairs or groups. Each week it is up to a different pair or group to set homework tasks. They can either choose from their workbook or students' book, or they can write their own tasks (which you will have to check before they are handed out).
3. Play with reading and listening
Here are some ways of trying to ensure that students get the most out of the experience.
A. Remember to give students a chance to predict what they are going to hear. Let them cast an eye over the texts before they start to read them. Make sure they look at any accompanying pictures to give them an idea of what's coming. Give them a chance to discuss what they think they are going to see and hear.
B. Put students into pairs. In each pair one student only looks at the questions; the other one only looks at the text. The student with the questions tries to find out as much information as possible about the text or listening passage. When the activity finishes the student who asked the questions checks answers with the text to see how accurate the partner's responses were.
C. For listening passages, half the class listen to the tape, the other half read the audio script. They both answer the same questions. Do the two groups come up with the same answers?
D. For reading texts, half the students cover the top half of the text, the other half cover the bottom half. They all read the part of the text they can see and try to understand what is going on. Students are then put into "top-half" and "bottom-half" pairs and they have to reconstruct the whole text without looking at the book.
4. Dictionary activities
Teachers are very keen to get students to use dictionaries. Here are two activities designed for fun.
A. Put students into two teams. Each team is given a series of quite "difficult" words. They look the words up in their dictionaries. For each word they copy the correct definition and then write two which are false (although they should be as much like real definitions as possible). Team A now reads out three definitions for one of their words. Team B has to decide which is the correct one.
B. Team A has their dictionaries shut. Get them to select any page number. Team B looks at the page number (in their open dictionaries). Team A now says "left-hand column" or "right-hand column" and Team B selects the correct column. Team A now says a number between 1 and 30, and Team B counts the lines until they get to the place which Team A has indicated. They then find the word which that line refers to. Team B now offers Team A the definition of the word which A has directed B to. Team A has to guess what the word is. Now the roles are reversed and it is Team B who, without looking at their dictionaries, selects the page, column and line, and Team A who finds the word which they then define for Team B to guess.
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