Learning should be fun. If your students are bored there is a very good chance they aren’t listening or learning. The last few years working in the TEFL industry I have tried to come up with fun and creative ways for students to engage in English and to learn in a natural way. Below you will find a summary of these TEFL lessons, projects and activities and by signing up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page you can have free access to all this material to use in your own classes!
I am currently working in Korea so all these resources are targeted at Korean students and if there are translations it is in Korean. They will be easy enough to adapt to any language and classroom though. Many of these TEFL projects are also great drama activities, so if you’re a drama teacher looking for something different, make sure to check these out. If you’re just looking for some fun TEFL games then check out this post on awesome PowerPoint presentation games for a fun lesson. These free lessons and games will also be appropriate in ESL classes.
In the downloadable resources I have only included the appropriate PowerPoint presentations and accompanying worksheets, I have not included a lesson plan document.
TEFL Lessons, Projects and Activities
The first series of projects and activities that I will describe here are for your standard, every day lessons. They will run for a few weeks (depending on how many classes you have per week) and will usually be working towards some final project to use what the students have learnt during the process.
Creating a Radio Play
This is one of my latest TEFL projects and also one of my favourite. In this process students are required to create their own radio plays by creating a story, writing the script and recording it with fun sound effects.
There are several educational advantages to using something like a radio play in English class. It makes the students rely entirely on their voice while not exposing them to any embarrassment that may happen on camera. It also makes students listen to their own speaking. They can hear what they actually sound like using the target language and gauge their own fluency.
I have run this TEFL project with my students in middle school grades 1, 2, and 3 (this is equivalent to what us South Africans know as grades 7 to 9). For the grade 1’s I had them take a Korean folktale and translate it into English. This is to encourage the students to be able to talk about their own culture and country. It also makes the project easier because they are dealing with an existing story.
In grade 2 the students are required to take an English fairy tale (3 Little Pigs, Snow White, Red Riding Hood etc.) and change it up. The lessons that I have provided take the students through a process to help hem create new fairy tales from the existing ones.
The grade 3 students are required to write their own story from scratch. They are taught several English phrases that relate to a crime or mystery scenario and then they have a chance to create their own stories. Finally the students, in groups, combine all their different stories into 1 final script for their radio play.
As a final note, this TEFL project ran a lot longer than I had anticipated. I did have numerous lesson interruptions but it was only meant to last half the semester and ended up using nearly the entire semester.
Who Am I?
I have used this TEFL project as an introduction for middle school grade 1 students. The object of these lessons is to get the students to engage regardless of their English ability and so that I can get a better idea of their level of English.
It is a simple 4 lesson activity that has the students creating comics to talk about themselves. Depending on how fast your students work this can take up to 6 lessons to complete fully. I use several Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes comics to help illustrate points.
It is important to stress that artistic ability is not important in this activity. It is a ‘getting to know’ you activity and the stories behind the comics are more important than how well they are drawn.
Talking About the Future
I had been asked to teach some specific language from a textbook but I wanted to make the learning project based. So I used this opportunity to get the middle school grade 3 students to talk about their future. The final task of the TEFL project is to design a business card for the job the hope to have one day.
The lessons practice the English around talking about hopes, dreams and aspirations. It gives the students a chance to talk about themselves and it gives you as a teacher a wonderful opportunity to learn about your students.
Making a Tutorial Video
This TEFL project also came about from a specific set of phrases I had been asked to teach. The required English tended towards creating a ‘how to’ video and I thought it would be fun to get my grade 3 middle school students to film their own tutorial video.
The students were not limited in what they could use as the subject for their tutorial video. It could be how to tie their shoe laces or how to use a pen. I wanted the videos to be silly and fun.
If you do use this activity make sure you have a way of getting the videos from your students. The videos may be quite large and require a lot of data to send. Some schools may also have policies against using phones in class so make sure to check!
TEFL Projects During English Camps
If you teach in Korea you will be accustomed to the English camps held during school vacation. Here are some of the activities that I used. These are the projects that seemed to engage the students in the best way. You can also take these TEFL projects and adapt them for regular classes.
The Rube Goldberg Project
This is, hands down, my favourite English camp project. The project requires the students to work with a wide range of action language. The students engage with the language through writing, making videos and finally creating a working Rube Goldberg Machine.
Making a Rube Goldberg Machine will require quite a few materials but a lot of it you can just take from your recycling at home. If you are considering doing this TEFL project make sure to save as many toilet rolls, Pringles cans, cardboard, and chopsticks as you can, along with anything else you can think of. You will want to get things like dominoes, LOTS of string, Jenga sets, marbles and ping pong balls. You can also let your students use what they find in the classroom, including desks, chairs, books and so on.
This TEFL project has been set up for a half day (about 4 hours) but you can adjust if to suit any amount of time you need.
Detective Camp (Elementary School)
This camp is not originally mine, I downloaded it off waygook.org, but I went back later to try find the original creator and I couldn’t so I don’t know who to credit it to. If you read this and know who the original creator is, please let me know! But I have made some pretty extensive changes to the PowerPoint presentations and I shortened it to run over three days.
This camp works through an investigation over the three days where students have to solve different puzzles to eventually find out who the criminal of the story is. The students are trying to become proper ‘detectives’ and get scores based on how well they perform during the camp.
I ran this camp with mostly grade 3 and 4 students in elementary school and they loved it. It does require a fair amount of preparation beforehand but I really enjoyed doing this camp.
Writing a Story
This is another single day middle school camp activity. This TEFL project is to teach your students basic story structure and get them to write their own English stories. The PowerPoint presentation takes you through a variety of short animations to look at story structure.
It is a bit more advanced than all my other TEFL lessons in this post but with the right support even the weaker students should be fine. There are a lot of discussion opportunities and lots of fun animations to watch if you’re running short of things to say!
Single Lesson TEFL Activities
British English vs. American English
A big problem you may face as a TEFL teacher is accents. Unfortunately the main English accent in popular culture is the stereotypical American accent. American culture tends to also dominate the TEFL scene, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but if you don’t speak with an American accent some of your students may struggle to understand you.
I put together this presentation to talk about British English vs American English to help my students understand some of those differences. Even though I am South African my accent tends more to an English accent but I do have a section on the South African accent in there as well for any fellow South African teachers.
How Was Your Vacation?
To have an easy back to school lesson after the vacation I put together a simple worksheet where students draw (or write if they have sufficient language) one thing they experienced during the holiday for each sense.
They can report back to the class when they are finished. This lesson will help you learn more about your students and you can have fun sharing holiday experiences.
More TEFL Lessons
In the Google drive, with all the lessons listed above, I have also included all my textbook specific lessons. Feel free to peruse through and use anything you find.
The main lessons are from J.L Haas’s DongA English textbooks and focus on the speaking and listening sections. There are worksheets and appropriate activities but the lessons often need to be done in conjunction with the textbook. These lessons are specifically designed for Korean learners.
If you are a Korean TEFL teacher, make sure to also visit KOR share for a wealth of resources and lesson plans!
I have personally done all the lessons that I have described above. If you are struggling with something or would like some help, please feel free to get in touch. Subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this post to receive the Google Drive link for all our TEFL resources.
A lesson will only be as engaging as you make it. These lessons provide a lot of the ground work but you will still need to prepare and be willing to work with your students.
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If you are considering becoming a TEFL teacher I would suggest reading this article on what to think about before moving to a foreign country to teach English. You can also read about what an amazing experience it has been for me and Monique in this post about how Teaching English in Asia change my life.
You can also read up on what is expected from teachers at EPIK in Korea. And finally, if you are a South African wanting to teach overseas, read this post on what you need to prepare and how to get you documents legally ready.
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