Balloon Volleyball/ Keep Of The Ground Icebreaker
Balloons aren't just for kids, all ages can warm up and ice cold scared ESL students can soon forget their inhibitions just by adding some balloons into the mix. Balloon Volleyball
can be played in the same way as real volleyball allowing 3 touches per team before getting the ball over a line/net/desks to the team on the other side. To add the essential learning aspect into the game, call a category from which students must loudly call out a word every time they hit the balloon. For example you could say to your students for the first point you must all call an ANIMAL in English every time you hit the balloon. Categories chosen should obviously depend somewhat on your students language capabilities but some obvious ideas might be
- Girls Names
- Boys Names
- Food and Drink (Fruit/Vegetables/Junk Food)
- Capital Cities
- Class Subjects
- Words associated with...Winter, Summer, Autumn, Spring, Beach, holidays etc
I think you get the idea...and remember this is an icebreaker or warm up so don't get too caught up on thinking it's too easy for more advanced students. It's a heap of fun and a great way to get students relaxed.Alternative Ways To Play And IdeasKeep It Off The Floor
If you are stretched for space in your class, check if you can take your students outside OR forget about the line and just keep students seated at their desks turning it into a game of "keep the balloon off the floor" with no teams, just each student calling a correct answer as they hit the balloon if it comes to them.Colours Mix and Smash
This one is particularly good for kids learning colours but also super fun to throw in at the end of a "Balloon Volleyball" or "Keep It Of The Floor Game". Blow up a whole heap of different coloured balloons and as an extension of the other two balloon games, slowly keep introducing one balloon at a time into the game play, until you have many different coloured balloons all flying around all at once.. As a specific coloured balloon comes to a student, they must say that colour as they hit the balloon (depending on your students level, you may prefer to make each colour a specific group for example RED- Animals, BLUE- Countries, PINK- Girls names etc). Depending on how many balloons you want to add and probably also the size of your class, this is a huge smash and call game that see's balloons pinging all over the room and students gleefully using English without the stress sometimes involved. The Final Word
There must be a plethora of ways to introduce balloons into the ESL classroom but the few variations I have just mentioned, for myself, always result in successful class icebreakers, warm-ups and even vocabulary reviews for all ages and levels of ESL classes that I teach.
If you have any other cool Balloon ideas that you have successfully integrated in to your classroom, feel free to add it in to the comments below.
Name Chant Ice Breaker/Warm Up.
This is primarily an ice breaker or warm up but I found it an amazingly useful tool in getting students to speak up and be heard. Often combating shyness, many students speak at no higher in volume than a mouse whisper, but with this activity they have to be heard to play. It's great for learning to remember classmates names, pronounce complicated names and coordinate doing something else (clapping and tapping the rhythm) all whilst having to speak out and have a great time (multitask extreme). Here is a video of a Chinese class playing name chant in a huge group. Activity Instructions below video.
Firstly for this activity you need to get the students seated in a circle. NOTE- This can also be played within smaller groups but you need to have enough space to distance them apart a little.
Secondly, teach them to slap their hands on their thighs twice and clap their hands twice, whilst keeping a constant mesmerising rhythm. Everyone should be participating by playing the rhythm at the same time, however, only one person will be speaking at one time. Pick one student to start the chant. The first time they double clap their hands they will say their own name, the second time they double clap their hands they will say another students name.(The tap tap in between gives that moment of thinking time) Whoever's name was called, immediately carries on the chant by saying their own name followed by another students name and so on. Note
: If you want to make this a competition, all of the following things will deem you out of the game, meaning you must fold your arms and no longer continue to slap your thighs and clap your hands.
- No stopping is allowed, if you stop and break the chant, you are out.
- If you say the name of a person who is already out, you too will strike out.
- You cant immediately repeat the name of the person who called your name i.e. no pin ponging back and forth between two people.
- If you break the rhythm, are too slow to answer or can't think of your name or someone else's name in time.
- If you forget to say your name first and immediately call another students name instead.
As always written explanations can be a bit confusing so maybe you would like to also show your students the video.
ESL/TESOL Teaching: Thinking of a career change but not sure if ESL is a valid prospect...read on to find out more on how ESL teaching is a great way to give to a community.
If your current job is getting you down, or maybe your life circumstances have changed and it's left you daydreaming for a chance to branch out and find new opportunities. Often one of the first things that people look at changing when they feel this way, is their job. The second thing is location. Depending on your situation, one option that opens up both of these life changes is ESL teaching. With courses ranging from a few weeks to a few months or years, gaining accreditation to teach TESOL overseas is relatively easy, Packing your bags, taking of for new experiences and the realities of the job however can sometimes be a more difficult situation to handle. Lets have a little look at the basics and see if you are cut out for ESL teaching.
Why ESL/TESOL Teachers Are Important For English Learning
TESOL is an acronym that stands for - Teaching English to Speakers Of Other Languages - TESOL/ESL students are people from non English speaking countries, who are endeavouring to learn the complex English language. TESOL teachers are the people who help them do that usually by modelling natural English speech via the use of activities , games and learning materials.
ESL students could be any age and level and be found learning English at facilities encompassing kindergartens, primary schools, middle schools, high schools, universities, places of employment, private language schools and maybe even private homes in which they are tutored. These learners need authentic English speakers to help them learn the finer points of speaking our language more so than the grammar drills.
Anyone who has spent considerable time learning a foreign language in their own country should already know that finding native speakers to practise your new second language with can be difficult.... and practising pronunciation, listening and conversing with a native speaker of that language is extremely important. Time spent alone with your head in the books...well... it just isn't going to be any replacement for digging in to listening and speaking in real situations with real people. There are many stories about students learning a language for many years who "technically" excel and pass all their written exams, only to find that when they arrive in the new country, they can't understand anyone and have a lot of trouble being understood. This is a very real difficulty facing many English learners in non English speaking countries. Little to no opportunities for them to practice what they learn, means that the role of a TESOL teacher often plays a significant part in many language students lives.
The Realities Of TESOL Teaching as a Job.
Whilst jet setting off to many countries and cultures can be extremely exciting, being an ESL teacher is not easy and definitely not as glamorous as it may sound. The reality is that bundled in to excitement and new adventures is a lot of very hard work.
Everyday work and life as a TESOL teacher, right from the very beginning, starts in a rather chaotic fashion as you begin about packing up your life as you know it into a suitcase, selling things to fund your journey into unknown territories and say good-bye to your family and friends... This all takes a lot of courage... not to mention the work and funds involved in gaining your ESL certification, time spent deciding what country you will go to, finding a suitable job (dependent on what age you want to teach), signing a job contract and organising visa's, passports and health checks. You would think that finally getting on the plane should be a relief, but venturing into the unknown could leave you feeling a little like I did...I still have very vivid memories of sitting on the plane thinking "What am I doing on this plane? and then closely followed by "what the heck am I doing in this country? Arriving at the airport can be dizzying and confusing especially if you still have to travel from a major city to actually make it to your final destination of a smaller city or town. Trying to find your connecting flights, trains or coaches can see you having to face your first experience of trying to communicate using your new countries native language. It only takes a few minutes to realise that what at first may seem exciting, very quickly can become terrifying. The good news is that personally I faced that anxiety educing experience, front on, in a totally foreign non English speaking country... and in return it gave me the opportunities I needed to grow in so many different ways.
The Life Of A TESOL Teacher (Based on China)
Depending on the contract that you sign, your working conditions including working (teaching) hours, time spent at your workplace (when not teaching), living conditions, class sizes and ages can all vary. Be very careful when signing a contract that you don't take on more than you can handle. When you initially see job advertisements touting "no more than twenty teaching periods a week" you may scream with delight, but be warned...twenty teaching periods (which in Chinese public schools are usually 45 minutes in length) may sound like a luxuriously short working week, you also need to consider these things-
1)You have to prepare your lessons - You can't just walk into the classroom with nothing to teach. This can take many extra hours on top of your teaching hours of scouring the internet and teaching materials for fresh and interesting ideas. To successfully prepare lesson plans you need to take into account the students different culture, meaning make sure you check for things like:
- Taboo subjects - things that you should avoid teaching or even talking about because of cultural differences.
- How willing to participate your students are (most Chinese kids are extremely shy)
- Is the content age and level appropriate? - anything too difficult and you will lose their attention as they lose their ability to concentrate and vice versa.
- Planning lessons becomes even more time-consuming if you are teaching a few different age groups, all needing different level appropriate material.
- Does it have a fun aspect to it? - You are not the students core subject teacher. You have to make your lessons enjoyable, otherwise your life will become very difficult and miserable. Being faced with a classroom of up to (in my case) 60 children, who don't want to be there...I can guarantee is not fun.
2)Extra Responsibilities and Extra Curricular Activities - Make sure you check if the school also expects you to take on extra responsibilities and activities as part of the agreement. Some schools may have relatively few classes but in exchange expect you to still be at school in the office (on hand to talk to teachers and students and help out), conducting English clubs or English corners and maybe even teaching other English teachers or travelling to give workshops or lessons at other schools.
TESOL Teacher Tips
If your character type can take on board these next couple of basic tips, maybe you'd make a great TESOL teacher.
1) The most important tip is to "Learn To Adapt". From adapting your whole lifestyle to adapting games and lessons in the classroom... teaching TESOL gives NO shortage of chances to practise thinking on your feet, rolling with the punches and coming through the other side all the better for it all.
2) Keep A Level Head - Having an ESL certificate to teach does not necessarily mean you can teach well or are a great teacher. There are good teachers and there are bad teachers and to be one of those great teachers takes a lot of patience, resilience, hard work and the ability to accept the fact that you are indeed a visitor in your chosen country of work, who is (like it or not) representing your own country and it's people. Always remember that your students, work mates and new friends are highly likely to draw conclusions about your country and nationality as a whole, that is based on YOUR behaviour and work ethic. In China your visa will say that you are a "Foreign Expert". From my experience that is not the case until you can prove your worth as a teacher and part of the community. There is a fine line to draw between acting too aloof and becoming unapproachable or on the other end of the spectrum, not caring about your job and responsibilities whilst visiting a country. The important thing to remember is that when you are teaching anything, you are holding a position with responsibilities. On the end of the scale don't look at your job too unrealistically. Unless you already teach in your home country, you most likely haven't spent many years at teachers college nor are you likely holding a specialised degree in education, so stick to the job you are employed and contracted to do which essentially for a TESOL teacher is usually helping students primarily with Speaking English more naturally and getting students used to listening to native speakers of English.
3) Stay healthy by eating well (not easy to do in a new culture), get plenty of rest and relaxation, keep in contact with friends and family to stay grounded, make new friends and totally absorb all the wonderful new things in your new surroundings.
Life After TESOL
Teaching TESOL can be an amazing job. I turned my TESOL adventure in to an Asian teaching career for 8 years, which in the process led on to my own business designing Power-Point Games, lessons and activities that are all made specifically to make teachers lives easier and students lessons more fun.
Taking on such a massive life change undoubtedly leads to equally huge personal growth. Learning to adapt, survive and take on challenges is one big learning curve, which if you treat with the up most respect will enable you to gain a whole new set of life skills, new friends and even a new language to bring on home with you. How To Become Certified
If you think you've got what it takes to be an TESOL teacher, you can start your journey by joining a TESOL accreditation course at one of the many online companies. I personally am affiliated with and totally recommend ATA (Australasian Training Academy)
What Exactly Is ESL And Can I Become An ESL Teacher?
TESOL is a form of education provided to students all over the world whose primary language isn't English. TESOL/ESL/EFL/TEFL are all acronyms generally meaning "Teaching English to Speakers Of Other Languages". . .It's taught to all ages and levels from kindergarten and all the way onward and upward through primary schools, middle schools, high schools, universities and private language schools and collages. Many non English speaking countries often have a need to employ people to teach English speech and listening skills to their students. English is almost a "must have" second language in many countries all over the world making TESOL teaching a great career choice...especially if you love to work and travel.
Can TESOL Teaching Be A long Term Career Choice?
Well the answer to that question really lays with you. My own personal experience saw me teaching at one school only in China for 8 years. Most contracts offered seem to be for 1 year and if the school is happy with your work ethic and you in turn also like the job and location you may get asked to re-sign a new contract , this can come with great incentives, many schools will often add extra bonuses like free return flights home, a rise in wages, free sight seeing trips within their own country etc. So for many people the answer to the question about teaching ESL's potential as a long term career often becomes "Why Not? Genuinely helping people makes the job satisfying, reasonable wages (comparatively speaking) and most living costs already catered for. You can potentially travel to anywhere in the world and often get free airfares back home every year if you re-sign. It's certainly worth considering.
Can You Make Money?
As far as wages go, it can depend on your location. Some countries pay much bigger salaries often akin to cost of living associated with the countries you choose. Your decision whether to teach at a private company, university, private or public school can all also influences how much money you can make and how many hours you are expected to teach each week. It can also sometimes depend on how many years experience you have and what kind of ESL certification or higher education you have obtained. It can be lucrative depending on the country you choose to teach in and you can usually find that even in the countries with lower wages and living costs, you can still save a reasonable amount whilst living quiet comfortably. Putting the money talk aside, teaching ESL can also be extremely satisfying and fun. There are many positions available all over the world for ESL teachers and most good and worthy places of employment actually cover most living expenses as well as giving you a reasonable wage. For example-
Accommodation is nearly always supplied, utilities paid for, general medical insurance taken out for you and even meal money could be on the cards, depending what kind of facility you teach at. These are good questions to ask potential employers when seeking ESL jobs.
To Find out more about how to become an ESL Teacher see this blog post
The Slam Game comes with a warning : This game will most likely cause mass excitement in the classroom. If the aim is getting students to speak, recall and have fun then this is the activity that makes that happen. If you have classes in close proximity to your own classroom, make sure you can control the sound level a little, as this can get very LOUD. This game is designed to learn and review vocabulary groups, so you will have to make sure that you have some flashcards for whatever words you are wishing to teach. E.g. If you are teaching occupations, you will need a set of at least 13 occupation flashcards.
You can view the video of this game in action at the bottom of this blog post but please read the instructions here to make sense of it all. Small promotional note: If you don't have the time to make your own cards, I have some cards with word groups for this game on sale in my store by going here.
This can be played by using magnets to put the flashcards on the blackboard (as in the video below), but personally I've not had much luck doing it that way. The students show so much enthusiasm that the magnets fall off and the cards fall on the floor (sometimes if you just don't have the space, you just don't have a choice) Therefor I recommend this set up : Arrange 13 desks in a horse shoe shape, split the students into two teams and get the teams to line up at either end of the horseshoe of desks. Place the picture flashcards face up, one on each desk and get ready to play.
Note:Before playing make sure the students know how to play "Rock, Paper Scissors" it is a major part of this activity.
Playing Slam is really very simple. The first student from each team starts their journey across the board or around the desks, heading towards the other teams home base at the far opposite end. As they go along they must touch each card and say what the picture is (I write the object on the back of my cards so if they are learning the vocab or forget, they can turn it over to remind themselves...the downside for them when they do this is it slows them down giving the other team an advantage to mow them down quicker)
At some point (usually somewhere around the middle) the two students will meet face to face. These two students will now have to face off in a Rock Paper Scissors challenge. The winner of this contest wins the right to keep progressing along the line of vocab review cards, touching and naming the flashcards as they go, all the time edging closer to the goal of reaching the other teams home base at the other end of the line. Meanwhile the loser of the rock, paper, scissors contest has to go back to his home base and join the end of the line and wait for another turn to play whilst the next student in line quickly starts again from their first card on the journey working around the flashcards until they run into their opponent who is probably now getting close to invading their home base.
When a team finally makes it to the home base of the opposing team, there will be huge cheers. Keep score on the board to see which team will be" The Slam Game" champions.
It's a great way for the kids to learn and remember new vocabulary,
A Handy Hint: Many students from Asian countries will rote learn and memorise a sequence of words in no time purely by using their memory...To get around this problem and make sure they are actually recognising the objects, change up the order sequence of the cards after each successful round has been won and completed... and keep spare cards to totally interchange some cards in and out of the line sequence.
Here's a video of a china class playing on the blackboard due to lack of space.
If your planning on travelling to China for a vacation, business trip, ESL teaching or a long term stay, more than anything else, you will need to do as much preparation as you can. Travelling to China is not like heading to most other countries in the world. It is extremely different in just about every way, you can't even begin to imagine. Until you actually experience it for yourself, it's tricky to get a grasp on what kinds of things you are likely to encounter, but I can assure you, everyday that you stay in China, will certainly see you faced with challenges and obstacles to "get over", be it physical or mental. Chinese peoples habits and customs, the transportation, the weather, the air, the water, the public facilities, the crowds, the language etc... the list is a long one. It's all these things and more that make China a challenging place to visit. But it's these difficulties combined with the wonders of China, that will most likely ensure that you have an adventure of a lifetime.
It seems that China is a place that people often love with a passion or hate with every ounce of their being, but if you embrace every moment, you might just find that it could change you forever. If you're not the kind of person who adapts to different situations easily, you're probably going to find visiting China a little tough. You're going to have to constantly remind yourself of these two "p" words... persistence and patience. You will need an abundance of both.
Food Glorious Food
One thing's for sure, when visiting "The Middle Kingdom", you will get to try some of the most delicious, authentic Chinese cuisine, like nothing you've ever tasted before. We're not talking about your local takeaway from up the road Chinese food, the Chinese restaurant in my hometown in Australia is very good but it tastes nothing at all like the food you will find in China. Different regions have different local cuisine, so it depends on which part of China you will be visiting, as to which tasty food you will get to try.
Travel Tip: If you find yourself in a region of China that has a passion for spicy food like Sichuan (Szechuan- home of the Panda's), take some yoghurt to the meal with you (it can also be bought in just about every Chinese restaurant because they offer it as a drink...yes it's more of a liquid than the thick and creamy yoghurt we know). It's great for putting out the fire in your mouth. I have also found that jam is even more effective for stopping a burning mouth, throat and stomach, but you may have a little more difficulty tracking that down to carry around with you.
Unfortunately ordering food in China can be a big ordeal. The names of Chinese dishes have absolutely nothing to do with what they actually are. It can turn into a bit of a guessing game as to what the dish is, that has turned up on your table. In this day and age with our trusty smart phone in hand, it's a really good idea to download a good quality Chinese to English dictionary. I personally used and can recommend Pleco. It comes with a scanner that can read Chinese text...very useful to see exactly what you're about to order and put in your mouth, then again maybe you don't want to know!
Other Dining Setbacks- Lets look at one common situation that occurs when it comes to eating. You sit down for that huge, mouth-watering Chinese banquet that lays before you... but you're not exactly a Mr Miagi when it comes to using chopsticks. In many places they don't have knives, forks and spoons and if your stay is for a reasonable time frame...well...you're going to starve. Did you know that even Chinese people get cramp in their hands from using chopsticks? A big part of the China experience is eating the local food in the local fashion, armed with your chopsticks... but if you're not exactly used to the art of eating with two sticks, I highly recommend you carry around a small portable spoon and fork set. You're not going to need the knife because they don't eat big pieces of steak and meat (that is unless you go to a western style restaurant and in that case they will have a full set of cutlery for your use). If you're visiting China, you're not going to spend too much time eating western food though... are you?
Travel Tip: If you find yourself in the position of being a guest for dinner in China, don't completely empty your bowl. To the Chinese host, this actually means that you haven't had enough to eat and they will feel they haven't fed you enough and looked after you well. So no matter how delicious...don't do it. It has to be said though, getting a chance to empty your bowl would be a fine thing. There always seems to be a host sitting close by and when you are not looking, they will keep adding more and more food back into your bowl, making sure you eat your fill.
When You've Gotta Go
After you've enjoyed eating the amazing Chinese Cuisine and sampling Pijiu (beer) or the Bai Jiu (white Chinese spirit) *warning - Bai Jiu is not for the faint hearted or casual drinkers among us) chances are you will be looking for a place to relieve your somewhat bloated stomach. Finding countless numbers of horrific "Chinese Toilet" stories online is really not very difficult. This country has a history of squat toilets, and whilst nowadays it has become more common to find western "sit on toilets" around China fairly easily, it could well be that you really are not going to want to use them. Many Chinese people still use them like a squat (drop toilet)... but kindly let you know by leaving their footprints all over the seat, you may just prefer to use the more common squat toilet facilities. Toilet Travel Tips: Nothing will prepare you for country toilets. It really is a good idea if at all possible, to find an alternative. Whether you are in the city or the countryside, always carry a small pack of tissues with you as most toilets in China do not supply toilet paper. ALSO...the smell really is something else...a nice little trick is to carry around some Vicks Vapor Rub to put on a tissue to hold over your nose or dab under your nose.
Keeping In Touch
If you want to cut out global roaming costs on your mobile or smart phone, you will need to buy a Chinese SIM card to put into it. This is not a difficult process, and you can go into one of the Chinese providers such as China Mobile or China Unicom to set it all up. My parents were recently here for one month. We picked up a SIM including 100 MB of data for a smart phone for the price of 150 rmb , that's around $25 AU. What you don't want to do is lose your original sim or memory cards, it's really easy for this to happen. I'm a frequent traveller and I'm always misplacing my sim card in the process of changing from one country to the other. You put them in your wallet and the get damaged, you put them in your carry on luggage and they get lost. They easily get misplaced or destroyed, so keep them somewhere safe.
Portable Power- Still on the subject of phones. Our smart phones have become an extremely useful travel companion. We can download all kinds of wonderful travel apps, language apps, maps, book hotels etc. the problem is that when we are on the road travelling, we often find that the battery just won't go the distance. To make sure that you don't get stranded on the roadside keep your travel companion powered up and ready to keep on going, with a portable rechargeable external back up battery pack.
Often crowded, travelling in China has become a whole lot easier with the arrival of the super fast bullet trains. In recent years, what was a 23 hour trip from the Chinese town I was located in, over to Shanghai on the train, now can be completed in 7 hours. These fast trains are fantastic. You can still (of course) access coaches, slow trains (soft and hard sleepers) and domestic flights as well as local (depending on where you are) B.R.T, buses and Metro (underground/subway). With all these choices... prices, comfort and quality varies quite a bit. Travel Tips: The fast trains are awesome but do not have much room if you're carrying big cases or have lots of luggage. Apparently there is a way to book luggage in to a different carriage, but I never found out how. Also the actual time allocated for people to board on to the trains... is very little and often includes many stairs, many people AND whilst you will see lifts and escalators, for some reason they mostly leave them turned off...be warned. ANOTHER TIP: In bigger cities like Shanghai, you can grab a transport card (pictured below) which you can pre-load with money. These are a really convenient way to get around the city on most modes of transport without struggling with having the right money on hand.
What Was That You Said?
Last but definitely not least, we can't ignore the language barrier problem. China is not really the easiest of places to get around if you don't have any idea about the local language. There is not much in the way of good English signage, and you don't often meet many Chinese people who are willing to converse with you in English, so, you really need to get some Chinese language skills under your belt. There are many apps available for android and iPhone with regards to translating phrases and words. Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to directly translate into English, so I don't particularly recommend using any form of smart phone translator or electronic translator, at least not to rely purely on one anyway. I've mentioned Pleco Chinese Dictionary earlier, It's reliable to look things up on the go. However, just having a dictionary on hand won't be anywhere near as effective without a knowledge of some basic sentences and phrases under your belt. There are many online courses to take, In my eyes Pimsleur Mandarin is by far the best course in spoken Chinese Mandarin that you can find. It won't teach you to read or write, but it will teach you to listen and speak. There are many modules available depending on how much you want to learn and how much you want to spend. If you are just planning a short holiday in China, I recommend not burning a hole in your wallet and going for "Pimsluer Quick and Simple Chinese" or the "Pimsluers Conversational Mandarin Chinese" If you're planning on moving to China (for a job) or really want to throw yourself into learning the language, buy the complete course...it's not cheap, but I don't think you'll be disappointed. I've found that you can also get this on audible, very useful. I'm not affiliated in any way with Pimsluers technique, but I really can't recommend it highly enough.
The Final Word
China is an amazing country, full of interesting places, delicious food, ancient history and will likely be an experience that will fill you with many stories to recount to your friends and family. You will find yourself speaking of adventures, hardships, unbelievable moments, share your disgust, boast about your mandarin speaking skills and share the moments of pure wonder about everything that makes China, well...China.
Do You Wanna Buy A Duck? Without a doubt this is one of the best TESOL activities to tempt students into speaking full sentences. Watch students have a humongous amount of fun with the dialogue. There's little preparation involved with this activity but a thorough explanation is required usually including a slow demonstration with a practice run (and running a video of it in action can also be a good idea). I find it's best to ask for a group of 5 volunteers to come up the front of the class to be the guinea pigs for the demonstration at the same time as the explanation. This is a dialogue game so write it up on the board or buy the prepped pack here. Choose your 5 demonstration students and make them stand in a line at the front of the class.
A Brief Intro To The Dialogue Idea
Student 1 - Do you wanna buy a duck?
Student 2 - A what?
Student 1 - A duck!
Student 2 - Can it swim?
Student 1 - Of course it can swim, it's a duck!
Now this same dialog is used the whole way down the line of students but each student replaces the object (the duck) with a new different object, which in turn makes the student asking the "Does it" question, have to alter their response. For example, if student 2 decided he was selling a ball, student 3 would have to ask him "does it roll"? and not "can it swim"?
After student 1 and student 2 have finished the first dialogue, student 2 turns to student 3 and carries on by asking student 3 if he wants to buy...lets say, a ball. It's not quite that simple though check the dialog and video below to see the added twist.
Student 2 - Do you wanna buy a ball?
Student 3 - A what?
Student 2 (turning back to student 1) A what?
Student 1 - A duck!
Student 2 -(turning back to student 3) A ball!
Student 3 - Does it bounce?
Student 2 - (turning back to student 1) Can it swim?
Student 1 - Of course it can swim, it's a duck!
Student 2 - (Turning back to student 3) Of course it bounces it's a ball!
Student 3 - (turning to student 4) Do you wanna buy a...? and so on.
Yes, it sounds rather complicated but once you work through a demonstration with a group of kids, it really isn't too hard. Please don't be put off by the explanation, it really works and is a wonderful activity.
What The Students Learn With This Activity
The kids have to really take part in this activity, making them concentrate, listen and speak. I find that with the "Wanna Buy A Duck" dialogue, they are happy to join in the fun and at the same time they learn so much. There is a lot of basic vocabulary covered in this activity in addition to thinking about what they are selling to the next student, whilst also thinking of the action associated with the item that the previous student is selling to them. It also helps them work on getting some expression into the tone of their words sentences.
Note: Make sure that they grammatically ask the correct questions. For example they can't ask "Do you wanna buy a milk".
If your class is into competing, you can time each group as they run through the dialogue and see who can complete the activity in the quickest time, but if you do, be sure that they don't disregard pronunciation for speed.
For TESOL students the inclusion of (wanna) in place of "want to", is something they really get a kick out of. Students love to try to get their English to sound as close to native English speakers as they can and seeing as TESOL teaching often focuses on trying to help the students speak more naturally, fluently and with greater ease, this little activity is an absolute gem.
Fully prepped pack available including worksheets, the below video demonstration in full, links to other useful "Wanna Buy A Duck" videos and instructions. Can pick it up here
(TpT) or here
I Want To Teach TESOL, How?
It is relatively easy to become qualified with the basic level ESL/TESOL/TEFL qualifications which enable you to teach in some (but not all) countries around the world. There are many ESL training companies either online or in your local city who offer courses offering a "Certificate in ESL Teaching" at its completion. Some of these companies can even guarantee job placement (if you're not too picky of course) when you have completed the qualification. You can't legally get an ESL job without this basic certificate (and that goes for all countries) and nor should you try. Depending on the particular qualification you wish to gain, the courses can vary from a few weeks to a few years.
I am affiliated myself with ATA (Australasian Training Academy). I gained my own certification through this company therefor I can safely recommend them. Of course you may want to do some searching of your own depending on the country you live in and exactly what qualifications you wish to gather. Do try to find a company that includes a practical "in class" unit, giving much needed real hands on training to go along with your online units that need completing... It is extremely useful (when you suddenly find yourself in front of a class full of faces waiting for your lesson) to have experienced practical on site training.
Once you have completed the minimal ESL course and gained your ESL/TESOL/TEFL certification, you can teach in some countries immediately, but as I mentioned before... not all. Depending on the country you wish to travel and teach in, you will need to do some research to check if you need some form of teaching degree or other form of higher education to go along with your ESL certificate. This is not the case for all countries, sometimes all you need is your ESL certificate, the want to go and experience a new lifestyle and whole lot of guts, strength and determination to actually get on the plane and do it!
Find jobs you like, apply and see what they say. The more qualifications you have often opens extra doors to more countries, higher wages etc. But you just never know if you don't apply and try.
Where Shall I Go?
It could be an obvious decision for you where you would like to go. For instance if you've always had a dream to see China and climb "The Great Wall", or would love to embrace the harsh cold winter in Siberia, then it becomes a very real and exciting opportunity for you to embrace and run with. If you're really not too sure where you would like to go...that doesn't matter, a big part of the excitement can be surfing the net, perusing the library and watching travel documentaries to check out which country, city or even a remote little village in the middle of nowhere just might take your fancy. The company with which you have trained, can often directly help you with finding a job or at least give you all the internet sources advertising the positions available worldwide. Sticking with a good training company on into your job search can possibly help you find safer more reliable jobs that are often only advertised within that companies community and are therefor often already trialled, tested and trusted schools.
There are many choices for locations and lifestyles out there that are sure to suit any of your destination desires but always do your research. Check for blacklisted schools on google, not all companies are good to work for.
What Does Being A TESOL Teacher Entail?
This can vary of course from school to school, but the basic requirements are planning and presenting lessons that aim towards getting the students to actually listen, understand and speak. Often the students already have a good knowledge of grammar from their everyday English classes but what they often don't have is a chance to put their English into real life practice. It must be pointed out that this job, whilst satisfying, can be extremely tiring. It can often seem that you need performance skills to go with your teaching skills just to get the point across, especially when teaching ages through from kindergarten to middle school. It could also be the case that when you arrive at your new job, you actually have no workbooks and little materials to work with, this means many hours searching the internet for teaching ideas that are not only informative but interesting enough to keep the students motivated and happy to learn. What and how you teach ESL is variable depending on age groups, learning levels, teaching facilities, places of employment and so many other factors. Be prepared!
I Like The Sound Of Teaching TESOL but I Don't Want To Travel
If this applies to you, you can still teach ESL in your home country. As we know, the world is a big melting pot of races and many of these people arrive in your country with a need to learn the local language. It may however be the case that you will need a higher form of certification to teach ESL in your own country, where as teaching ESL overseas, in some countries, requires nothing more than your ESL certificate and your resume, which in turn then gets you your working visa.
At The End Of The Day
Remember that even though you may get to wing your way to amazing places around the world, it is work. In fact it is hard and tiring but satisfying work. The whole experience of being an ESL teacher and visiting different places, gives you a tremendous opportunity to grow as a person. Life challenges come up that you could never have imagined. You get to see how people live in other countries and cultures, that are often incredibly different to your own...in fact it may feel like you've accidentally flown to another planet rather than just over to a different country. To get a return flight included in your job package, you usually need to work a 1 year contract and re- sign. 3,6 and 1 yearly contracts are commonly available. If this job appeals to you, if you need a change in direction or if you want to do something completely different whilst you are in a transition period in your life, this could be just what you're looking for!