Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tired Lesson Topics - Part 3

So, we've jazzed up Family, Food, Daily Routines, Sport and Education with lesson ideas that are just a bit different, now it's the turn of Hobbies and Work - both yawn-inducingly familiar textbook topics, I'm sure you'll agree. So how can you teach them again without falling asleep? Read on for ideas.

1. Hobbies

  • Students use Etsy or Folksy to search for real examples of unusual craft items or hobbies.  It could be a competition to find the most unusual / beautiful / overpriced / pointless item possible, or they could try to 'sell' the item to another student using persuasive and descriptive language.  
  • Story-telling - students choose a hobby and tell a story where the hobby led to a disastrous result (such as loss of a relationship or home, illness, or even death) or to unexpected success (a scientific discovery, a successful career, a new relationship or your home becoming a tourist attraction, for example).  You could use dice as described in my first post to randomise some of the story elements.  Alternatively, Googling "my hobby led to" could provide some useful ideas for students to start with.
  • Students research any clubs for hobbyists in the local area, and discuss which they might be interested in trying out.  This could even become a class trip!  Or you could arrange a visit to a craft shop, if you know one with a friendly proprietor.
  • A role play scenario where an addicted hobbyist calls an agony aunt or uncle for help in stopping their hobby taking over their life.

2. Work

I've noticed that most of my ideas in this section relate to bad jobs, and things that go wrong at work.  This may be because I've experienced plenty of both in my time, or it may be because I tend to work mainly with younger students who have 'McJobs' while they are studying, so are unfamiliar with the corporate world presented in typical Business English scenarios.  You have been warned.
  • Bad jobs: check out the Worst Jobs in History, presented by Tony Robinson.  There are lots of episodes available on YouTube, many with entertaining re-enactments.  This could provide plenty of scope for comparative structures, or -ing / -ed adjectives, among other areas.  Or for modern day bad jobs, this is one of many online articles that could kick-start an interesting discussion.
  • Bad behaviour at work: students make a list of things that would get you fired at work, then role play them.  (I have a vague memory of a British hidden camera show where contestants were competing to get fired, much to the bemusement of their colleagues, but I haven't been able to find a video, unfortunately.)
  • Pranks at work: students debate whether pranks at work are ever a good thing.  For example, they could bring people together and promote a friendly atmosphere, or on the other hand they could be considered as bullying.  There are lots of example pranks on YouTube, or you could ask students if they have ever seen or played any.
  • Bad service: starting with a list of examples of bad customer service (over the phone, in person, or via social media), students discuss how they could have been handled better, then act or write the better version.
  • Bad staff: role play a disciplinary interview, or discuss appropriate responses to staff misbehaviour.  I once organised a radio panel show role play where 5 students played managers, and gave their advice for scenarios including an employee feud, a thieving member of staff and someone accused of pulling sickies.  
I'll sign off there, but there are still plenty of ideas to come - watch this space for more.

Photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @ij64, @VictoriaB52, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

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