From An ELT Notebook: The Last Five Minutes

An ELT Notebook recently featured an article about “the last five minutes” which had some useful tips for wrapping up class. The suggestions ranged from correction – possibly drilling a point that brings trouble, to revision and general feedback (incorporating both a positive and a “to be improved” element).

I think these are good tips first of all because they’re practical: you can plan them and incorporate them with a minimum of hassle. They’re also somewhat “lower impact”: students are mostly not under the same pressure to be active as they are during the main part of the class, but they are still a useful way to spend time.

I would add that establishing a routine for the last five minutes is not a bad idea either; students know what to expect and because everyone is ready to go and less than receptive to directions, they build up a sense what to do each time.

One problem that I think is not uncommon is that you simply running out of time. There’s a lot to cover, and you try to keep to a plan or schedule, but sometimes things just take longer than they “should.”

I generally prefer not to start an activity which I can’t finish, and feel it’s better not to cover something than to cover it poorly (though this may just mean returning to it at a later time or dealing with it in a more concise way.) One strategy if you’re not sure if you’ll make it through all you’ve got planned – and may end up revising something you’ve just practiced – is to have some general vocabulary revision on hand, perhaps of words you expect your students to know from previous lessons or even levels they’ve already passed through or themes they’ve dealt with. You could have it ready in two lists – one partner explains to the other and they see how many they can finish in the five minutes. You could use some vocabulary for a short competition like Hotseat. If you can revise that day’s lesson in a reasonable way, go for it, if not, you’ve got the vocab ready.

Now, this post is almost over and I’ve got some feedback for you…