At school, we recently finished the second trimester and just got out for Semana Santa. I think everyone needed this week and a half break, students and teachers alike. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, which means this year it was a little bit later than usual. Since we are in Spain, the end of the second and start of the third trimesters are planned around this Easter break, making for an almost 4 month-long trimester. We still had some days off between New Year's and now, but everyone was getting a little antsy at school. Here are some tips for how to keep your students engaged until the end:
1. Get the students involved. Lectures just before a long break will put anyone to sleep. It's actually recommended for language learning that the students should be doing about 70% of the talking and the teachers only about 30%. Since a lot of people travel during this time off, we had students tell us about all their exciting upcoming adventures.
2. Have fun. Playing games (some of our favorites are board races, charades, mafia, guess who, etc. will go a long way to keeping your students not only awake, but also enjoying the learning process. Since it was Easter, we did an Easter egg hunt within the classroom after talking about traditional celebration differences between Spain and the US and the relevance behind our symbols. I brought in chocolate eggs for the hunt, and since quite a few students were out on a school trip, it thankfully wasn't an expensive splurge (for my private students I also made cookies or dyed eggs with them).
3. Change it up a bit. Students get bored doing the same thing over and over again. Since it was right before break and we don't watch a lot of videos, we decided to show some Easter videos (Charlie Brown & the History Channel proved to be good resources for this). The students did have to take notes and discuss what they saw afterwards, but they were happy to see Snoopy and Charlie Brown instead of doing more grammar exercises.
4. Encourage participation. Even if a student makes more mistakes than what he gets right, I still want him to try! You learn from trying and correcting your mistakes when you make them. If a student knows you will be encouraging and not condescending when they make mistakes, they will be more likely to try and get involved.
5. Build good rapport with your students. This is something that started way back at the beginning of the year, but having them know that you respect and care about them goes a long way in keeping them engaged. This can be done in several ways, but with my students, I listen and respond whenever they have concerns and do my best to make sure the games that we play are as fair as possible. I might also have secret handshakes now with several students in the school. =)
Well, I'm off to go explore Cordoba and revisit Sevilla and Huelva for Semana Santa! I'm sure I will have plenty to post about once I get back. Until then, happy Easter!