10 Great Warmers and Fillers for EFL Teachers
The tips are listed below as Warmers and Fillers and we here at EFL Magazine are sure you will find some inspiration from reading them. A big EFL Magazine “Thank You!” to all of our contributors. A full list of the names of all of our contributors can be found at the end of this article.
1. My strengths:
Students chose one of their own character strengths, such as resilience, love of learning, sense of humour, curiosity, patience, social skills, creative, or being good at building/fixing things. They then speak about how the strength that they have identified can contribute to the fabric of the classroom. Students can also share a lesson/study tip for others.
Examples might include: “I am good at analysing things, and my tip is that when you read a hard text, break it down into small pieces and read it sentence by sentence” or
“I am good at keeping calm and avoiding stress, so my tip is to study when you are in a relaxed frame of mind.”
This warmer could be completed after doing a free online assessment (VIA Character Strengths Assessment) or after a brief journaling and reflection exercise.
2. Using a letter of the alphabet to build word knowledge:
A very simple exercise is to pick a letter of the alphabet and to task students with suggesting some words that begin with the given letter. This could be confined to an actual lesson you are currently teaching.
Students love guessing games and they are eager to please, so a game like this will encourage creativity and draw upon their imagination to come up with the most creative words in the hope of guessing what the teacher had in mind!
This warmer also works online and it does not require a lot of preparation.
3. The alphabet conversation:
This is somewhat similar to the previous tip but includes asking
students to write a conversation or a dialogue, with each line of the text starting with the letters of the alphabet (in alphabetical order, of course!)
If you really want them to get creative, you can encourage them to continue the conversation using the letters of the alphabet one more time. This tip builds knowledge of the alphabet but also acts as an aid which draws upon students’ ability to be innovative.
4. Word race:
Teachers can give the students a chance to compete in a race. In groups of 4 or 5 (it depends on the class size) they will have to stand at the board and come up with words or definitions of words from the lesson you are teaching. It works better if the activity is timed for perhaps 5 minutes for each group.
The group with the most number of words within the allotted time are the winners!
Other ideas for a word race
A teacher can divide the class into teams, and select one student from each team to stand at the front of the class with their back to the board (alternatively, the student could cover their eyes while you show the word to the rest of the class). The teacher can write the target word / expression on the board. Students then have to describe that word to their teammate at the front of the class until they guess it. Whoever guesses first gets a point for their team! For a smaller class or when teaching online, choose one student at a time to guess the word, timing them to bring that element of competition.
5. Fun-filled grammar:
Teaching grammar to young minds should be interesting and fascinating and teachers can teach grammar in a fun filled way. Parts of Speech are very important grammatical aspects when learning English as a foreign language and this teaching technique can aid teachers who wish to teach Parts of Speech in an interesting way.
This tip can help with:
- Understanding parts of speech
- Enhancing vocabulary
- Construction of Sentences for better communication
This tip encourages collaborative learning in the classroom and only requires a dictionary, a pen, and some paper! The activity takes only 10 to 15 minutes of preparation time.
How can you do this?
The class can be divided into small group of three to five students. Each student should have a dictionary. Allocate a time of perhaps 5 to 10 minutes time to allow each team to write parts of speech on a paper in a tabulated format. You can instruct each team to refer to dictionary and write 10 words or more under each heading – noun, verb, determiner, pronoun, preposition, adverb, adjective, conjunction and interjection.
6. The chain:
Create a chain of words. This involves one student providing a word (random or related to the lesson). The next student must provide another word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. This fun exercise can continue until all of the students have had a chance to participate in the chain!
7. Four lines and a story:
This is an exercise in improvisation! Teachers can begin by giving the students 4 lines to use in a scene. The sentences can be as wacky as you want them to be! Students can then act out an improvised scene based entirely on the four sentences. The goal of this exercise is to use minimal dialogue to create a beautiful scene that is mostly based on movement.
8. Music fun:
Whilst listening to some pieces of music carefully chosen by the teacher, students are then asked to create a drawing and to write three words they associate with the particular piece of music. Students could also create a title for the movie they are planning in their first big role!
Teachers can play different types of music for each round for variation or adapt the music to be more suitable for the class in terms of creating a very beautiful piece of art with drawings, a bit of written notice and a memorable movie title.
Is it your first day of school? You will want to do something fun so that you can get to know your students, and they can get to know each other a little better. You can try this game.
Have students stand in a big circle, and take a ball! The first student who holds the ball has to tell their name, age, hobby (depending on the level). The student then throws the ball to another student who has to repeat what the first student said and then add their own data. The last student has to repeat everything!
10. Verb, Spelling and Pronunciation Activites:
Dictogloss is a brilliant activity that can be used for a variety of purposes. Do you need to introduce or revise new vocabulary or emphasise a grammar point? Dictogloss works every time!
After warming students up to the topic and reading them a short prepared text, they work in small groups to reconstruct it. Teacher analysis and feedback follows.
Dictogloss is a student-centered activity that encourages learners to work collaboratively. Unlike Dictation, which simply copies the original text, Dictogloss is an integrated skills method and requires students to negotiate meaning to generate a new text. It empowers students to teach and learn from each other.
Students ALWAYS need more practice with past tense verbs and spelling, so this is a great filler activity!
Teachers can divide the class into two teams and provide a marker for both teams. Have the class form two lines for young students (alternatively, if remote working or working with older students or if line formation is not possible, teachers can number students and call their numbers or call their names).
Then students go to the board to write the past tense of a verb – an example could be to ask students to “Write the past tense of study”. If you are working remotely, students can race to type in the chat or write on the screen.
Teachers can line up student teams, assigning each team a section of the board. The teacher then says a word. The students at the front of each line go to the board and write the first letter of that word. They go back to their team line, hand over the pen to the next person, who writes the next letter. And so on! The first team to spell the word correctly wins. This activity works with students of all ages and at all levels! Teachers can adapt for online classrooms by the use of the virtual whiteboard or chatbox.
Teachers can get students to write any word or expression which they find difficult to pronounce (or choose one for them). Students then stand in a large circle, holding up their word so it is clearly visible to others. One student starts by standing in the middle of the circle and says a word that one of the other students is holding. That student then has to say yet another students’ word. While this is happening, the student in the middle has to try and ‘catch out’ the person whose word has just been said, before they manage to say another, by running up and grabbing their word off them. The ‘caught’ student then has to stand in the middle of the circle.
EFL Magazine wishes to thank all of our contributors who took time out of their busy schedules to share the very helpful warmers and fillers with us all. Thank you to:
- Beena Anil
- Mona Arvinte
- Rachel M. Reger
- Sasha Wajnryb
- Theodora Papapanagiotou
- Veronique Ward
- Walton Burns