Technology has made teacher’s life a lot easier throughout the years. Bringing audio/video to the classroom today is no longer a concern, websites that help producing interactive/online activities are at hand.

But although I am a huge fan of the use of technology in class, I believe we cannot take for granted practices that were once used back in the 20th century. And that is why I chose to talk about this 4 types of old school activities you can use with your students without much preparation and still gain lots of language practice.

Show and tell – This is a very common practice in American elementary schools (I am positive you have seen that in some movies already). A show and tell activity basically consists on the teacher asking the students to bring a personal object (a toy, a clothing item, etc) from their homes to school and talk about it to their class. Show and tell activities allow room for students to practice speaking in a safer environment, since learners are going to talk about something they are supposed to know plenty about. Besides that, it is a great opportunity for learners to put their descriptive skills into practice, once, more often than not, the object talked about has its particular characteristics, which made the student choose it for their presentation.

The meaningfulness the use of realia brings to the class is also an important factor here. There is every likelihood students are going to retain a lot more talking about something they have chosen than about something somebody else has. Last but not least important, as the learners are going to talk about their items in front of the class, teacher can allow other students to ask questions, giving more room for speaking opportunities and genuine communication.

Dictation – This type of activity is nothing new to us Brazilians. I can still recall back when my teachers would carry on for minutes dictating sentences/words so that students could write them down. Dictations help students develop listening and writing subskills. The whole mental process involves bottom-up language features (punctuation; spelling; noticing contractions; elisions and other phenomena), once learners are going to decode short acoustic signals into written record, so as to make sense of a bigger picture, that is, the text read and its context.

Flipped Classroom – This strategy has to do with blended learning, in other words, language content being delivered outside the classroom. That approach usually involves an online environment, but I am going to focus on a Precambrian practice. When I was a kid, at times homework consisted of carrying out researches using books, magazines, newspapers. That could imply looking for picture, a particular piece of text or information about a topic/celebrity that was going to be used on the following class - when the teacher would promote a certain activity involving the research made.

This type of technique increases learners control of input, and promote a more learner-centered and personalized/inidividualized/independent learning environment. Furthermore, in class, depending on the type of activity promoted by the teacher, students will have to work together in order to accomplish a task. These collaborative activities maximise speaking and give room for collaboration in the classroom.

Telling anecdotes – For starters, anecdotes are fun! Telling stories is something we do every day, in and outside the classroom. But apart from being fun, telling anecdotes takes: i) time references - and this is where the use of several verb tenses kicks in; ii) descriptive elements to make the story more interesting and catch the listener’s attention - for that we will need adverbs and adjectives; iii) organization; to be understood the speaker has to organize facts in a logical order - sequencing words can do that job when well deployed; iv) context; in order to prepare your listener, students have to carefully summarize their stories as an brief introduction, being cautious so that they don’t give any spoilers away – here they are going to use their summarizing skills so as to prepare a good hook for the story.

As I’ve already said, I am a huge fan of technology – I’m using a text editor to write this right now ahah – but I also guess classes should have variety. Otherwise, even the most brilliant ideas, when overused, can turn out to be flop, which is both really bad for your learners and rather frustrating for you.

So, what about going back to some chalk and talk? Do/Did you already use any of those activities? Let us know in the comment section. See ya!


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