Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Out of the window

A very simple activity, which works very well as a filler, as revision, or as the prompt for a whole lesson. All you need is a window with something going on outside.

The view from our classroom

The view from our classroom at IH Sevastopol

Ask the students to look out of the window and tell each other/you what they can see. With my elementary students I encouraged them to use a few structures they’d recently studied:

  • There is/are…
  • Present continuous
  • NOT: I can see… I can see… I can see… (which is what they started with!)

Feed in any vocabulary and structures that they might need, and make a note of them on the board. The students should focus on speaking as much as possible for now, rather than note-taking. Give them time and space to think of ideas – it took my students time to warm up, but then they came up with lots of ideas.

When they’ve run out of steam (after about ten minutes for my group of four elementary students), let the students make notes based on what you put on the board, as well as ask more questions about language.

I repeated the activity a week later, and the students managed to remember about half of the new vocabulary they’d used the first time, as well as adding adjectives and more description without any prompting from me at all. They had resorted to ‘I can see…’ again, but after a reminder from me started to use ‘There is/are…’ and present continuous again.

I’ve read many times about this kind of activity, but this is the first time I’d used it, and it definitely won’t be the last!

[I wrote this post nearly a year ago, but never pressed publish. Better late than never!]

Comments on: "Out of the window" (10)

  1. HAMID PINJARI said:

    oh really good one!!!!!!!!


  2. joannamalefaki said:

    Hi Sandy,
    I really liked this post. The idea is great. I am going to try it, but instead of a window my students will tell me what they see from the balcony door :).


  3. Nice idea sandy


  4. joanenglishteacher said:

    I like this idea very much but just wonder what is not good about using ‘I can see…’?? A native speaker is likely to use that structure.


    • Hi Joan,
      There’s nothing wrong with ‘I can see…’ except that it was the only structure they were using so it became quite repetitive. I also think that although a native speaker would use it, they’d be more likely to use ‘There is/are…’ Maybe you could test the activity out on a native speaker who doesn’t know what you’re doing and see what they say – I’d be interested to hear the results!


  5. nevenastoilkov said:

    Reblogged this on Teaching English.


  6. Reblogged this on Kaur Gibbons' Thoughts and commented:
    Quick, simple, and engaging. I’ve done this in Thailand with shy and non – communicative teens. Make it a competition to get the most and they won’t be able to stop!


  7. joannamalefaki said:

    Hi Sandy,
    I did this today. My student loved looking outside the window (it was actually a balcony door). He described what he could see and then I asked him if he could be anywhere outside, where he would be, so we also practised conditionals as well!! Win-win.
    Thanks for the idea!!


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