You’re the expert

Let the students teach you something for a change. Get your students to tell you what they’re interested in. It’s motivating for them and everyone gets to know each other better.

This idea comes from Teaching Unplugged by Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings. I find it works well with teenage classes, especially when the book is not inspiring anyone.

1. Choose something that you’re interested in. It could be a hobby, a sport – anything. I often choose snowboarding, but the more niche and unusual the better. It just needs to be something that you know more than the average person about. 

2. Explain your topic to the class and encourage them to ask questions. Go into detail…

  • What’s the right size for a snowboard?
  • Is it an Olympic sport?
  • How fast can you go on a snowboard? How fast do you think you’ve ever been?
  • Who’s the best snowboarder in the world?
  • How do you fix your bindings? What ARE bindings? 

Spend about 10 minutes on your topic, then ask students to make a few notes on their own.

3. You can either do this off the cuff or get students to research their topic for homework. Either have one whole class where all students teach each other (and you) about their topic, or just spend 10 minutes once a week or so at the beginning or end of the class. Encourage students to bring in realia to demonstrate their expert topic.

Also, take the opportunity to note down any errors that come up in class, particularly with question forms. Address these after the expert has finished, so as not to interrupt the focus on meaning.

You can find out some really interesting things about your students this way. I ended up dancing the tango (very badly) in front of a class with one of my students who was a dance teacher!


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