Three ideas for extracurricular events

English teachers from different locations working for EPAM Russia including me are soon  going to take part in the webinar organized by curriculum managers. The point is to collect ideas and activities for English clubs, English days, cinema clubs, etc. My today’s post is about activities I have tried with my students so far. For the upcoming webinar I am going to be writing about three most successful events that worked for our students: English Day, Skype Status Activity (I wrote about it here) and Poetry day.
So, English Day… Some background information. I’ve been working for EPAM for more than two years; my responsibilities include organizing Business English classes for employees who are mostly programmers and business analysts. Of course, as all students, they are not strangers to something new. Thus, with the help of our HR manager Natalya Syvorotkina we worked out the idea of the day and announced it just the week before so that students could get prepared. Also we announced the program of the day. So, English Day, July 2013.

1.    The main idea was to create the atmosphere where everybody could speak only English. It was not so simple for some of employees, because at that time they just started having English classes at work, but there were students with higher levels who created this atmosphere and helped others. By the way, those who did not want to speak English that day were supposed to bring sweets and to ‘pay’ for the possibility to speak Russian. (One employee brought neither more that less a kilo of sweets and gave to me, though I should admit it was a joke, and everybody wanted to speak English, of course. Although we got kilos of sweets and biscuits that day… ). What I would have done differently: I would have probably asked weaker employees to prepare cards with functional phrases. In this case it would have been a lot more easier for them.

2.    There was no dress-code that day simply just because we had not thought about it and had not included it in the announcement. But one employee was wearing a real Scottish kilt, and that was a very astonishing idea for each of us! What I would have done differently: No doubt, a kilt is so difficult to get in Russia, and it is not obligatory to wear it, of course. I would have asked employees to think about dress-code. What would you advise?

3.    The day began with watching funny videos. The room with the screen installed was not so big and some people were standing, not sitting. Nevertheless, we spent about 30 minutes watching. I chose several viral videos related to the English language, funny advertisements, some videos from Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show, videos with funny accents. They were not shown with an educational aim, they were meant to start the day in a relaxing way. What I would have done differently: some videos were difficult for weaker students. I would have separated them into groups and chose videos suitable for their level. Also I did not include discussion session. But still I am not sure whether it is necessary to discuss funny videos or not.

4.    The bigger part of the day was called ‘The English Quiz Party’. I had prepared different entertaining and engaging tasks. They were divided into 2 teams. They played grammar ‘Noughts and Crosses’, matched English proverbs with their Russian equivalents and matched cards with names of famous people with their inventions or ideas they were related to. What I would have done differently: I would have been more aware of teams and their leaders, I would have chosen them myself. I would have asked teams to create the name for it, or even names for every teammate. Here I still need some ideas of what to do with teams, how to engage them as much as possible.

English day 1

5.    The next part of the day was ‘Five O’Clock tea’. First of all, I showed a presentation about English Sandwiches, and later on I held a culinary workshop for preparing these sandwiches with cucumbers and ham. I had prepared a pile of disordered cards with recipe steps. I asked students to put them in order and then, in accordance with the steps, to begin cutting, peeling, spreading bread with butter, etc. Of course, all sandwiches were then eaten by participants. What I would have done differently: perhaps, it was the only part of the day I was happy with. All students felt confident during that workshop and while cooking.

English day cooking

6.    The final part was English songs session. I am fond of playing the guitar and brought it from home to play some English songs. We chose different songs, like ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles (very popular song among English teachers from Russia), ‘Let it Be’, also by the Beatles, ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ by Smokie, ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen and others. We had printed lyrics and gave to students to sing together with me. It was amazing! Of course, not everybody was engaged, but seems that those who liked singing were enjoying that part very much! What I would have done differently: I would have prepared karaoke, or firstly, I would have asked students to fill in the gaps in lyrics. Nevertheless, it was the part I was enjoying too.

English day guitar

At the end all employees were given lollipops. What I would have done differently: I would have thought about more valuable presents for students. It is a matter of discussion.

My aim is to have English Week with students with lots of different activities, including quizzes, cinema club, speaking club, perhaps, acting some plays with students, that is why I am looking forward to getting some ideas from other teachers and sharing mine. It has been already agreed upon with the Director and HR manager, in summer at the latest we’re going to hold English Week.

Thanks for reading! If you have any ideas and things to share, please share in comments. I am really looking to reading them.

P.S. One of the following posts will be devoted to Poetry Day. Stay tuned!

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