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.
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!]