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Educators teaching English as a second or foreign language commonly use play- and nature-related words, especially when they are handling young learners. Words such as run, swing, sea, slide, tree, playhouse, grass and sun are among the first English words foreign students learn to use. This is because nature and play are such universal themes that any introductory language course is likely to use such words among its first list of examples.
Given the high level of interest generated by nature-related topics such as animals, parks, plants and landscapes, ESL and EFL educators should use nature as a teaching platform whenever the opportunity presents itself. They can even take the learning experience further by organizing park or nature trips, documentary viewing/filming, nature role-plays, zoo visits and other activities.
Nature-themed Activities for English Language Classes
Here are some nature-related activities ESL And EFL practitioners can readily integrate in their lesson plans. If you are planning to do so yourself, weigh the benefits of each based on your preferred approach, your students’ English proficiencies, classroom resources, the curriculum in place, and the learning context.
1. Zoo Visit
Visiting a zoo opens up a wide range of learning opportunities, foremost of which is the buildup of your students’ animal vocabulary. Before the activity, ask the students to observe the animals in the zoo and to list down the names of their favorite animals as well as these animals’ characteristics and behavior. Moreover, ask the students to also list down the English names of animals that are new to them. In class, you can have students describe the animal they like as well as the animals that, until then, was new to them.
2. Park/Playground visit
Some schools have an integrated park or playground where students can play, relax or enjoy the outdoors. If this is not the case, you can help organize a short visit to a nearby park where you can let learners observe different aspects of the environment. In either case, you can instruct your students to form into groups and make a map of the park, labelling landmarks and other locations using English terms.
Plants, insects, benches, trees and different rides are some of the common treats associated with parks and you can have learners write short English descriptions of these objects.
If you are handling an intermediate or an advanced language class, you can even conduct a class debate or discussion on related issues such as which activities (biking, fishing, skateboarding, etc.,) should be allowed to help make the park a better place to visit.
3. Film Viewing
Watching simple documentaries on a specific aspect of nature is one of the best way students can learn English. When attempting to conduct this activity, make sure that the material you are going to view are at par with the language proficiencies of your students. Viewing a film that is either too linguistically rudimentary or too advanced for your class will likely be useless and will not result to any significant improvement in your students’ English communication skills.
Learning an additional language can be a procedure that takes a great investment of a tremendous amount of time as well as, as students focus on learning the complicated nuances of another tongue.
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