I’m delighted to be able to welcome my first ever guest blogger to Reflections of a Teacher and Learner and who better to have than serial guest blogger Anna Musielak. I first connected with Anna after her presentation at TESOL France last November. Although I was not in attendance at that event, I heard so much about her workshop on drama there via the buzz on Twitter. Since then, she has provided me with the impetus and the ideas to use more drama in my classes (see this post) and now, through this guest post, she has given me more. Aliens are always a hit with my kids so I’m sure they will love the combination with drama!
Welcome to Earth
I love teaching kids – it's tough but so rewarding:) Children are not afraid to make fools of themselves, they love fun and they love goofing around. And if they can do it on an English lesson – they are more than happy to attend:) What's more, if our young learners treat English with pleasure, as their hobby, the process of learning comes naturally and the new material is acquired quicker.
The friendly alien
Some time ago I did a lesson with my 10-12 year-olds that we called "Welcome to Earth". The idea was very simple - every student got a finger puppet (I have various ones: animals, professions, fairy tale creatures) and had a couple of minutes (depending on the level) to think of the story behind this character, all the time using really easy constructions (name, hobby, age, address, likes and dislikes, family, favourite food etc). I have to add here that I really LOVE my finger puppets, they are my trustworthy props not only when I teach kids but also adults. More importantly, they are light and don't take up too much space:) I have a whole collection – some are even handmade;)
My daughters modelling some of our finger puppets
Students prepared their stories and I explained, that I was the alien from out of space (a friendly and knowledge- thirsty one) and wanted to learn everything about the new planet and its inhabitants.
Students were supposed to say something about themselves (they were in their roles of course). I was very inquisitive and had no idea what a pen/table/window/elephant/ballerina etc... were. When I was finally satisfied with their answers, it was my turn to be interviewed. They asked about my planet, its inhabitants and their customs (all the time using simple English: What's your name? Where do you live? What is your mum's name? Do you like...? What's your hobby? Can you fly? etc...). I tried to make up crazy and fun answers to surprise them and encourage them to keep asking questions. And of course, I was wearing antennae and alien's mask (for those not willing to dress up – you can just put a tag/sticker saying that you are an alien;))
Me in the role:)
Later on, as a follow up task, we made some (old school) posters using paper, glue, stickers, drawings, magazine cut outs, markers and lots of glitter (both girls and boys loved that – we had some girly pink stuff and some manly black glitter;)) Students were divided into groups - “the animals” made one poster, “the working people" another one, “the fairy tale creatures” a different one. The posters were supposed to encourage aliens to come and live on Earth.
We had various works – some posters were about hobbies, favourite food, important events, some about animals and their habitats, and some about „magic” creatures and fairy tales. My students really liked that idea, so a lot of following lessons were centred around “the friendly alien” topic. We wrote emails, designed alien costumes, created the alien's family, sent party invitations and so on. It became the main theme of our English lessons.
Look closer – did you know that twist is not for old people? ;)
Anna Musielak is a Polish teacher and teacher trainer holding a Ph.D. from Silesian University. She has worked at the military unit, at college, teaching British Literature and Culture and as methodology director in a private language school. She has also published articles on literature, culture and language teaching. At the moment she is working on workshops and teaching English to young learners and adults. She is interested in using drama, music and literature in ELT.
You can follow her on Twitter: @AnnaMusielak
She doesn’t have her own blog (though I strongly urge her to start one!!) but can be regularly found writing fantastic guest posts around the ELT blogosphere. Here are a few of those posts, well worth a read:
- Using drama games to teach soldiers - guest post on Ken Wilson’s blog.
- Drama warmers/fillers - guest post on Vladka Michalkova’s blog.
- Using Songs - guest post on Eva Büyüksimkeşyan’s blog.
- Party Mix: Engaging teenage learners - guest post for OUPELTGlobal.
- Not a Drama Queen but a Drama Teacher- guest post on James Taylor’s blog.