How projects such as class magazines and surveys can provide a welcome break from the norm for both teacher and students!
Class projects are a great way to put into practice skills that have been learnt during an English course. The following projects that I’ll be sharing with you have worked really well with teenagers who were on short term courses of a few weeks. It’s a fun break from structured lessons and also gives the teacher a break for two days!
To lead up to this activity, ask students to brainstorm types of magazines and what sections they would find within them. Explain that you will be creating a class magazine over the next couple of days and ask students to pick two topics from the board in pairs (fashion, agony aunt, technology, food and drink, news, editorial etc.) Get the students to appoint an editor who will oversee the article writing and delegate work to the pairs.
Have several different types of magazines at hand for the students to look at. Initially, ask them to brainstorm with their partners and get ideas about what they’d like to write about. When they feel ready, they can attempt a first draft which the teacher will correct. For the final copy they can cut out pictures from the magazines available and personalise their pages. The editor will then be in charge of collating the articles and as a group they can choose a title for their magazine. Students are often quite proud of their magazines so we pass them round the different classes. This activity, although very fun and relaxed, is very beneficial as it requires students to discuss with their partners in English and write an article.
This type of project can also work with a class newspaper, although the format and reporting styles would be different. A newspaper often works better with adult and business students as they can write about a topic relevant to their interests or careers.
Perfect EFL School Brochure
The following project is quite similar to a class magazine as you will need an editor and a lot of creative input. To start off with, ask students what they think of their language school and what can be improved. Then let them decide what could be improved and what their idea of a perfect language school is.
Collectively they should decide what country their school is in, what it should be called and what its ethos is. In groups students can then proceed to write up a school and accommodation description, class schedule, extra curricular schedule, teacher profiles, interview with the Director of studies, menu etc. being as detailed as they like depending on the size of the class.
Survey projects are always a favourite because it means the students can leave the class to go out and find their data. There are infinite topics for surveys and questionnaires so put the class into groups and let them decide what they would like to survey. Give them some examples such as restaurants, entertainment, local people, and foreigners’ perception of the country.
Ensure that your students have discussed and written out their questions (usually at least 10) relevant to their survey. Once they have been corrected send them out for an hour to research their topic or to ask people.
When they are happy with the material they have collected, they can then decide how to present their information, as graphs, paragraphs, pamphlet or poster. At the end of the activity, all groups will have to present their findings to the class and discussions can be started according to the topics.
I always like to keep the best examples of previous students’ work in my classroom to show my new groups. It gives them an idea of what level of work is expected from them and gives them something to try and improve on. These projects have worked well as a finale for a departing class or as a breather when there was just no time to prepare a lesson!