Part One: Sentence Extension
Have you ever come to the end of a page in your coursebook and realized that you don’t have enough time to begin the next page, but still need to cover a few more minutes of class time? One common strategy in this situation to bring out your favorite filler or five-minute activity. However, I would like to suggest an alternative, implementing a short extension activity that draws on the material in the coursebook in order to help students consolidate important language from the lesson.
In this new series of articles, I’m going to present a few ideas for extending and expanding the material you find on the pages of your coursebook. Whether you are using a traditional coursebook, photocopiable handouts, authentic materials, or even your own worksheets, you will find these ideas extremely practical and useful for giving students additional language practice.
In this first installment, I’m going to suggest a few simple activities just using one sentence from the coursebook.
Questions from a Sentence
Pick out a good sentence from your coursebook and write it up on the board. Ask students to write 5 questions, two that are answered by the sentence and three that are not answered in the sentence, but have some connection to the sentence. For example, if your sentence is I went to the bus stop at 3:00, a student might write:
Where did you go?
When did you go to the bus stop?
Did you go to the bus stop or the airport?
How often do you take the bus?
Do you like riding the bus?
Call on students to read out just one question, and write them up on the board, correcting any errors you hear.
Transforming the Sentence
Write the sentence on the board. Call on a student to come to the board and change 1, 2 or 3 words by erasing words and writing words. Encourage students to be as creative as possible. Repeat 5 or 6 times.
Before and After
Read out the sentence to your class. Ask them to write it in the middle of their paper. Then challenge them to add 1 sentence before and 1 sentence after it. Both sentences should have a logical connection to the original sentence. When they’ve completed their writing, call on several students to read their sentences for the class.
Personalize the Sentence
Write the sentence on the board. Ask students to choose 3 words from the sentence, and create a sentence about themselves using all 3 words. Ask each student to read out a sentence, then choose a student to direct a follow-up question to the author in order to get more information.
The Missing Word
Write the sentence on the board, but write a blank instead of one of the words. (It’s ideal to choose a content word that could be replaced by many other words.) Ask students to jot down 5 words that would fit in the blank. Next, call on students to read out one of the words they wrote down. Write them on the board around the sentence. Finally, reveal the missing word.
Putting It Together
Give each student a post-it note. Call out all the words in your sentence, but in a mixed- up order. Ask students to write down all the words they heard. Read the words again, this time a little slower. Next, put students into pairs to check if they got all the words. Finally, ask the class if anyone can produce a sentence using all the words. Tell the student who gets it right to put the sentence on the board.
Write the sentence on the board. After a minute, erase everything except for the first letter of each word. Ask students to invent a new phrase or sentence using the first letters. For example, I went to the movies. might become Innocent workers took too much.
The Best Translation
Write the sentence on the board. Invite students to translate the sentence into Chinese (or Taiwanese, if you wish!). Call on several students to read out their translations. Next, choose 3 students to come to the front of the class. Ask them to read out their translations, but tell 2 of them to make a slight error. Tell the class you are going to listen for the best translation. Once they have read out their translations, you decide which one sounds the best. Ask the class to tell you if you are right.
Hall Houston teaches at Kainan University in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. His articles have been published in periodicals such as It’s for Teachers, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional. He has written 3 books: The Creative Classroom: Teaching Languages Outside the Box, Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT, and The ELT Daily Journal: Learning to Teach ESL/EFL.