TEFL Classroom Activities: You Must Believe

9410f1.jpgOne of the best pieces of advice I received – and honestly I think I already knew it in a sense, but hearing it helped confirm it – was “For something to work in class, you have to believe in it.”

An activity that an Oxford University Press book says is great and the other teachers confirm is awesome will probably not work if you don’t feel convinced. It’s not because it’s a bad activity, and it’s not because you aren’t really trying…you just have to believe in it to make it work. It may work fine for another teacher but not for you.

This has happened to me with a movie: I spent well over two hours preparing questions for and deciding which scenes to show and edit of Bridget Jones’ Diary. Five minutes into my first viewing of the film, I said to myself “Uh oh, this might not be the right film.”

But I felt like it was the best I could find under the circumstances and I’d committed to showing a film, so I went ahead and proceeded to invest the time in planning and then lugging my laptop into school (no school dvd player – video only). As soon as I started showing the film I realized it: yes, my first instinct was right. This was the wrong film to show this group. And yet here we were with a full page of questions and an hour and a half to kill.

I salvaged it, it was fine, but I think it could have worked if I’d believed in it. Or I should have taken my initial impression as the first warning sign that it wouldn’t work.

I suppose the moral of this is: trust your instincts. If you don’t like an activity and think it won’t work…it probably won’t! That doesn’t mean it’s a bad activity or a teacher who uses it is wrong. It just means you should adapt it or replace it with something better for your class.