Different ways to get started with new content and add interest and challenge

A colleague has just contacted me to ask for ways that we might engage young learners when introducing new content.....

Here are some of my initial thoughts, 

Engaging with our senses

  • Make the activity touchy feely - what's in the bag/ magic sack/ under the blanket / cloth etc?
  • Add an element of sensory challenge - don't look! Just smell or taste - what could it be?
  • Hearing the item before seeing it- does it rattle,squeak,clatter  etcetra?

Be detectives! 

  • Solve the scenario - what collection/ group/ family / situation might all the new items you are introducing belong to (e.g a weather report/ a zoo/ a jungle/ a restaurant etc).Give them pictures of possible scenarios from which to pick (e.g a zoo and a jungle or a cafe and a restaurant)
  • What's the link- in which order should the new items be ordered? Introduce the items in a specific order - can the class spot the link
  • Ask the class to watch and practise carefully the new items and then on tables set up their own "solve the link" problems for the rest of the class.Let the class create link problems for the rest of the class to solve e.g.  one table can pout three of the items in size order - can the rest of the class spot the link and place the other items in to the size order so that the link is completed.Or another group might put some of the items in alphabetical order - can the rest of the class spot and solve the link
  • Conceal all the items under a sheet- so that it looks like a landscape.Introduce the items as a word and a picture , Can volunteers come to the front and spot the items from  its shape under the blanket?
  • Introduce more than one of an item ... maybe specific colours. Can they help you count up the items?
  • Play hide and seek with the items ....just where is that new item?Who can find it first- maybe the pictures are blu-tacked around the room or are wrapped up and need to be unwrapped.Maybe volunteers are holding the possible items or pictures you want to share.
  • Finding the matching parts.Cut your pictures in half and share one half of the picture - now who is holding or where is the matching half to complete the picture of the food,animal,clothes item etc

Learn together

  • Don't just share the words, ask the children to work in groups to initially find possible words that we might need if we want to talk about animals, clothes , foods etc.Take feedback and see which of the words they have found match the words you want to share in the lesson.Make a list of the other words for additional language later in the focus.
  • Listen to the words first on sound files and ask the children to spot the written word on a flip chart or on cards in front of them.Can they help you to decide how to say the words by listening carefully to the sound files?
  • Reveal a new word or phrase in the target language and ask the children to share in English any fascinating facts they may know about the item - e.g weather (hurricanes/ storms/droughts etc) or animals ( speed of animals/ largest and smallest /habitats etc).Add some fascinating facts of your own- to break up the repetitiveness of practising new words and to add a new dimension to the learning

Set up a challenge!

  • Be first to spot the longest word
  • Be first to spot the shortest word
  • Be first to remember all the words that start with a vowel
  • Be first to spot the words with two syllables
  • Be first to spot all the  masculine words / all the feminine words/ all the plural words
  • Be first to remember all the phrases using the same verb

Make a noise!

Make learning the sound of the words and the phrases fascinating

  • Give words and phrases a beat or a rhythm .Ask the children to identify the words/ phrases just by their beat or rhythm.Make it a pair activity
  • Make the words silent - just repeated in silence in your head
  • Add radio control - loud or quiet responses
  • Silly voices
  • Put the new words in to a nonsense rhyme and add to the rhyme as you add new language.
  • Create an English story interspersed appropriately with the new phrases  and words and  ask the children to see if they can retell the story to each other.