At the end of every school year, my adult students have this same query: “What can I do to practice my English during the summer?” After 13 years of teaching experience, I should be ready for this, but often the only answer that springs to mind is to watch movies and read in English. However, neither I nor my students are very happy with this less than original answer. I am sure they are expecting a bit more from an ELT professional. But I’m not letting that happen again this year and that’s why I have prepared the following short list that I’m sharing with you in the hope that it could be useful for any age group of students you are teaching.
After deciding on which of the following activities you and your students would like to do, create a place online for your students to share their work and comment on their classmates’ posts, such as Padlet, Wikispaces, Edmodo or Facebook groups. This is a great way to keep them in touch with one another over the summer months and get them motivated by checking out what everyone is up to.
1. Explain a recipe in English and cook something. Tell your students to find a recipe in English of a dish they like. Then, they should record a video of themselves cooking, explaining the ingredients and directions (ask parents to help their kids, if necessary). Food is a great way to learn new vocabulary and culture. I see, not everyone likes cooking. Well, if that’s the case, your students should find something they master and would like to teach others (in English!): how to play a videogame, how to dance hip hop or even how to fix a bicycle flat!
2. Visit your city in English. Most cities offer free tours that your students can join in order to explore their city (or the place they are visiting) in English. This will increase their listening skills and provide them with the opportunity to meet other visitors. And if they are doing a tour of their own city the familiarity with the topics will aid them in comprehension and boost their confidence. An alternative for taking a field trip in English is Virtual Reality. Your students will just need a pair of Google cardboard glasses—you can buy them online for less than 5 euros—and some teaching ideas—here and here—.
3. Online learning. If you are using MyEnglishLab with your class, then just make sure you assign new content or recycle areas for your students to practice during summer. If you don’t know what MyEnglishLab is, it’s an online platform that can be used on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones, at home or at school. Therefore, it is appropriate for self-study during the summer and students can practice all skills, anytime and anywhere. While doing the exercises, your students will get online hints and tips and instant feedback. Get in touch with the Pearson ELT consultant in your area to get more information.
4. Find conversation groups, a pen pal or host an exchange student. Many big cities organize conversation groups in cafes or bars for exchange students. While this is probably something most university students would love, it might not be ideal for other age groups. If your students are adults and have an extra room, they could take in an international student / visitor. (Couchsurfing could be an interesting alternative). Older but also younger students can also use these family-friendly websites (Interpals or Global Penfriends) which pair similar-aged students from around the world. This is a rewarding experience and a good chance to interact with people from other countries in English on a daily basis.
5. Films and books. Finally, if you fall back on your stock answer and suggest watching movies and series and reading in English, you could add something extra to this activity. Why not tell your students to write a review of whatever they see / read over the summer? Make sure your students keep it short and don’t see this as a school writing task. I would encourage them to post their opinion on real websites (such as Penzu—a private online journaling tool that allows users to print, download or share their writings). Provide your students with a template from Pinterest, for example, here or here. How many likes / shares did they get? If your students don’t like reading or movies (I know, there are weird people out there), you could suggest that they follow someone they like on Twitter, subscribe to a blog or listen to podcasts (BBC News, Business News, Podcast in English) on a topic they like.
What other ways do you know that could help your students’ language learning going over the summer?
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