The Perfect Warm-up to Elicit Language

When I don’t know how else to start a lesson, I fall back on this old standby, which I suppose is a variation of Word Association and kind of party game-ish. It’s a great way to open a lesson on a theme, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or family or love. It elicits vocabulary, it gets students thinking about the topic (Go schemas!) and it takes only a few minutes. I also like warm-ups that pay some kind of dividend. If you want to, students can create mini-posters for the classroom that you can then use later on.

It’s dead simple! What I do is write the theme of the lesson on the board and have students come up with a word or 5 words related to the theme. They can do this alone or in pairs, but as with any word-association game, it’s best if they not think too much about it. However because this is ESL class, I do let them take a minute to think before speaking.

Then  I go around to each group and have them share a word or two. You can just acknowledge the words. You can have students give an explanation–this might lead to a longer discussion. You can write the words on the board, great for referring to later as vocabulary or discussion starters.

For Thanksgiving, I was thinking of doing Gratitude!

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