Why do we need to have starter activities (or warm ups if you prefer) in class? What are their purpose? When we speak a language, we must think in that language to achieve fluency, and avoid going blank etc. It is very difficult to be able to translate word for word what you want to say in your own language and hope to keep up with a conversation in full flow. I guess through interpreting meaning and paraphrasing this is possible to a certain degree, as you only need to grasp the basic meaning, but as I say, very difficult. I have always thought to myself, ´Why do twice the amount of work?´. If you translate you need to listen, understand, translate, think of an answer, translate again, and then respond. This is not the easiest method.

Innitially it is tough to think in a different language but it is completely necessary. We need to begin by reducing the level of language that we demand of ourselves, then we can start a process of building a language web, structures that will later help us to construct phrases without the need to translate. This will help you avoid going blank and thinking “How do you say ___ in English?”. Through this process fluency will improve as it will help you with what I like to call ´tip of your tongue syndrome´, this is where you think you know a word, you can understand it and in certain contexts use it, however it doesn´t always come out when you want it to, you have to actively think and search for it in speech. Thinking in English helps to stop this problem and it serves as a base to later use more complex language.

Here are some activities that make us (or our students) think in English! They are easy to use and can be adapted to almost any level.

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  • […] So that time of year is approaching again. Back to school! As classes will be starting very soon I want to talk about innovative and easy to prepare activities that can be used in any classroom regardless of lack of resources such as smart boards, projectors or even internet access. It is fantastic to have a wealth of resources and it is certainly a benefit for the student and the teacher as they allow us to save time when preparing a lesson, but the cruel reality is that in the majority of language schools we don´t have a large amount of resources that deviates from the basic whiteboard, sound equipment and (course) books (see Quick warm up activities for ESL teachers and language learners). […]

  • […] of what they are doing and the teacher is able to evaluate the participation of each student) see Quick warm up activities for ESL teachers and language learners for examples of […]

  • […] more speaking ideas, take a look at Extra Speaking Ideas – using video clips, Quick warm up activities for ESL teachers and language learners or 11. Time Saving Speaking – activities with little or no preparation needed. You can also […]

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