Activities That Work

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
Table of Contents:
A. Activities for grammar point and spelling.
1.-Adjectives.  2.-Commands.  3.-Demonstratives.  4.-Object pronouns.  5.-Possessives.  6.-Prepositions.   7.-Spelling.   8.-Verbs.

B. Holidays.
1.-Dia de los Muertos  2.-Sainte Catherine  3.-Holidays. (Others and in general)

C. General classroom activities.
1.-Appointments, pairing and telling time.  2.-Competition.  3.-Describe it!  4.-Fable portrayal.    5.-Interactive.  6.-Role-playing & skits  7.-Listening and/or singing.  8.-Upper level (ii, iii, etc.) activities.  9.-Word review games and activities.   10.-Writing.

D. FL mini-topics.
1.-Art activities.  2.-Clothing & body parts.  3.-Colors, Numbers & Money.  4.-Family.  5.-For small kids. (Just for them?)  6.-Geography and FL.  7.-Idiom fun.  8.-Learning directions.  9.-Poetry activities.  10.-Shopping.   11.-Sponge activities.  12.-Student newcasts.   13.-Talking games.  14.-Teaching culture.  15.-Time expressions.   16.-Weddings.

E. Special activities.
1.-Animals in the FL class.   2.-Class warm-ups / Bell ringers.   3.-Fashion shows.    4.-Native games.  5.-Puppetry and dolls.  6.-Scavenger (and other hunts).  7.-Sports.

F. Special times of challenge.
1.-Beginning of year.  2.-End of class period.  3.-End of year.  4.-Fridays.  5.-Spring fever.

G. For the teachers..
1.-Blocks/Algebraic rods.  2.-Bulletin boards.  3.-Card games in FL.  4.-Constructing activities from a contemporary book. (Example)  5.-Game rules.  6.-Integration of activities.  7.-Learning centers.  8.-Pictures (How to, what to, etc.).   9.-Postcards.  10.-Pro & Con of game-playing.    11.-Resources.   12.-Review for tests.   13.-Slow but nice students.   14.-Types (Lists) of activities. (Lots of ideas here!)   15.-World Wide Web / Internet   16.-Miscellaneous.

Introduction to Activities That Work

The most common denominator for these activities is that they have been devised so that children will use the target language in order to be successful in each activity. Some activities require a more robust insertion of the learner than others. Some activities are far more intricate and involved than others.

Many activities (grammar, vocab) pull learners into action that helps them become more skilled in recognizing and manipulating the basic elements and forms of the target language. Or perhaps the will be involved in learning or dealing with certain elements of the culture (geography, holidays, etc.).

Yet other activities work with students by building some sort of human situation, an artificial construct, so to speak, that pulls them into making use of the target language (shopping, family, newscast, etc.) that they have learned (or can reasonably guess) thus far.

It seems to be in the nature of most young people (nearly all of us humans, actually!) to prefer an adventure rather than a review. So even if it is a review, we often don’t admit it, far be it from our best interest to advertise it in advance. That’s why these activities are important and why it behooves all teachers --ones of a foreign language at least as much as anyone else-- to become skilled at using at least a small variety of learning activities in the classroom.

This important trend of thought got started early in 1995 when Don Houghton wrote FLTeach: “...By definition, the main component of 'Successful Programs and Teachers' is 'Activities That Work'. ...We should be concerned .... with activities that challenge our customary way of looking at what we do, and that give us insights into how we can help greater and greater numbers of our students be ‘successful’ language learners (successful in quotes because I see it as a notion that needs re-defining as well).”

Bob Hall is probably the first to respond with a team-oriented game for reviewing vocabulary. Marilyn Hannan had the inspiration to write:  “I LOVE your sentence relay game! Please tell us more! Por favor!” Bob promptly responded with variations of his work, and he also added a review game that utilized pick-up-sticks. Then Susan Navey-Davis added a contribution and the activity-sharing fun fest has been going strong ever since.

FLTEACH as a group may not have always achieved the high standards Don was looking for, but well over one hundred FLTEACHers have taken up the gauntlet and try to communicate to all some of their own Activities That Work. Since then more than one hundred contributors have submitted about 300 pages under this rubric.

Here is a first attempt at systematizing their work. We invite you to comb through each part as you need and as you find the time.

Lee Risley

And here are the numerous contributors of activities:

Cheryl Adams
Jan Adams
Sharon Austin
Michele Back
Julianne Baird
Carole Baker
Wendy C. Baker
Dellawanna Bard
Patrick Barrett
Marilyn Barrueta
Catherine Bass
David Bebbington
James Becker
Rachel Becker
Alice Bell
Didier Bergeret
Anne Bernardi
George Beyer
Martha Bihari
Madeline Bishop
Charlie Blank
Amanda Blanton
Jean Bodle
Brian Bohlander
Sherry Borgren
Bill Braden
Janel Brennan
Janice Brosius
Jan Brown
Pat Buckner
Kathleen Bulger
Cathy Bunge
Patricia Calkins
Stephanie Campbell
Suzanne Cane
Bethanie Carlson
Pamela Casler
Elma Chapman
Gary Charles
David Christian
Paula Christiansen
Simone Clay
Jennie Clifton
Beverly Clinch
Diane Colozzi
Paul Conley
Loita Cottle
Beth Damascus
Lucia Daubresse
Richard E. Daugherty
Elaine Davis
Veronica Dees
Jennifer Dodson
Deby Doloff
Marilyn Dryden
Deb Duarte
Debbie Eli
John Fain
Tamara Faust
Carol Feige
Shannon Fineout
Gene Foldenauer
Anne Fontaine
Jeffrey Forney
Judi Forti
Debbie Fowler
Heather Frackiewicz
Stephen Frail
Dee Freel
Pat Freund
Tom Gambill
Susan George
Mara Gipstein
Janet Glass
Joseph J. Goebel
Peter Goldstone
Kay Gundlach
David Gurney
Beckie Gurnish
Carol Hackney
Bob Hall
Marilyn Hannan
Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez
Bill Heller
R. Henley
Diane Hershberger
Ian Hewitt
Helga Hilson
Wolfgang Hirsch
J. Hoaglan
Tamera Holter
Megan Horn
Don Houghton
Sandra Howard
Nancy Hudson
Kimberly Huegerich
Dianna Janke
Prawet Jantharat
Mary Johnson
Lewis Johnson
Eileen Johnson
Michelle Jolley
Denise M. Jones
Pete Jones
Helen V. Jones
Paula Jones
Cynthia Karmik
Shari Kaulig
Sharon L. Kazmierski
Charles Kehler
Jenna Keller
Cindy Kendall
Pat Kessler
Laura Kimoto
Debbie King
Joann M. Kissell
Liz Klem
Billie-Renee Knight
Liudmila Kostiukevich
Diana Kozlen
Aleda Krause
Carmen Kumm
Michael Kundrat
Paul Lanciaux
Steven Langlois
Beverly Larson
Norma Y LaVoie
Barbara Law
Kay LeComte
Richard Lee
Jean LeLoup
Kathy Lennox
Viviane Levy
Michael Liebe
Hollie Linville
Lilia Lipps
Vicky Loney
Laura Long
Patricia Jane Long
Gary Luke
Anne Lutkus
Beverly Maass
Bill Mann
Yves Marcuard
Kathy Marker
Aurora Martinez
Timothy Mason
James May
Liz May
Kathy McGregor
Nick McLellan
Mary Megias
Kendall Mellem
Andrea Merrifield
Kirsten Merryman
Susan J. Mitchell
Janice Miyata
Cherice Montgomery
Irene Moon
Donna Moore
John Moran
Claudette Moran
Gertrude Moskowitz
Michelle Moyer
Lauralie Muson
Marilyn Nathanson
Susan Navey-Davis
Lesley Nelson
Lynn Nuthals
Sharon O’Neil
Stan Oberg
Shannon Oldham
Gilda Oran
Sue Orr
Lilian Ortega
Frank Osborne
Marta Pabellon
Jean L. Pacheco
Katherine Paxton
Robert Peckham
Duveen Penner
Vanessa Peterson
Eliseo Pico
India C. Plough
Gini Pohlman
Robert Ponterio
Rachel Powell
Sharon Powers-Alpena
Grisselle Principe
Steve Quick
Willis Joseph
Judy Robb
Linda Roberts
Jessica Roberts
Lauren Rosen
Karol Rudy
Barbara A. Sanchez
Jennifer Jo Schafer
Anita Schroeder
Marjorie Seely
Jose A. Sendra
Emily Serafa-Manschot
Sue Alice Shay
Richard Shelburne
Susan Shelby
Dave Shenk
Miriam Slipowitz
Maureen Sloan
Dawn Smith
Deborah Lynn Smith 
Sheryl Smith
Barbara Snyder
Richard Snyder
Nilsa Sotomayor
Melita SperlingTara Stace
Jeffrey Stein
Courtney Stewart
Sandy Suffoletta
Jim Sullivan
Tracy Sweredoski
Joyce Szewczynski
Ron Takalo
Jean Teel
Linda Thalman
Marilyn Thayer
Shawna Thue
Roxann Trenda
Andy Turausky
Diana Turner
Kathleen Turner
Candi Van Dyke-Sherwood
Connie Vargas
Daisy Verdoner
Alicia Vinson
Cindy Walsh
Rita Lynn Watkins
George Watson
Don Webb
Rosie Wendt
Michele Whaley
Joshua Whitney
Teresa Wilkins
Jean Carolyn Williams
Jo Anne S. Wilson
Elaine Winer
April Woods
Ian Wright
James Yoder
Mary Young
Robin Ziperman
Rosemary A. Zurawel


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