Across the country there are many language schools with students of all ages who are learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The English language is known for being tricky to get to grips with. If you don't believe me consider the words 'witch' and 'which', they are pronounced identically despite having entirely different meanings. Then you have 'lead', commonly found in pencils, and 'lead', a word meaning to take charge and direct the way... these words are spelt exactly the same, yet are pronounced differently and each has its own distinct meaning. The mind boggles.
Just using the two examples above illustrates how learning English as your second or perhaps third language can raise a whole host of questions. Arguably one of the best ways to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it, by listening to conversations, or taking part in simple day-to-day interactions to improve your dialogue, or perhaps by picking up something written in the language. Books and magazines can be useful for this, but there are so many other different types of content that can be helpful as well! For example, instruction manuals, recipe books, brochures and leaflets, and newspapers. All students need a healthy diet of mixed materials and resources to keep them interested, but also to appeal to the different learning styles around the room. EFL teachers can make the most of all these different types of content using their CLA Education Licence and NLA Schools Licence.
But how to get students interested in this at times daunting content? To put them into good use in the classroom they can be transformed into simple classroom activities. We've come up with a few ideas for some EFL activities using published works:
- Choose two cookery books written by English language chefs. Have the class identify elements of the language used in each book that make them identifiable with their author, for example, puns and jokes, or the use of colloquial language. Discuss why the chef has chosen to use these techniques and the effect it has on the reader.
- Read a newspaper opinion piece through with the class, before introducing a second opinion piece on the same topic with a different view point. Have the class identify the difference between facts and claims made by the author using positive and negative language to influence the reader. Discuss the importance of recognising bias.
- Show the students a specialist magazine, for example, a farming focused magazine. Ask them to highlight new vocabulary and use it to create a short creative writing piece.
These activities could also be used for any students struggling to get to grips with English comprehension and grammar. For more of these activities, you can read our 'Time-Saving Ideas Guide'.