The Oxford School, Dubai, celebrated the English Language by organising an English week (from 16th to 20th of Nov 2014) wherein many literacy competitions were held and English-related activities were organised. It was a week of flurry and excitement, with the children being fruitfully engaged in various tasks, during the zero period, so as to not disturb the regular teaching lessons.
The week began with a Drama Competition for girls, which was held in the MP hall. There were 6 groups participating and each group staged a 5 minute enactment, with no more than 5 actors in each group. The plays chosen ranged from Shakespearian tragedies to modern contemporary drama and the children who performed brilliantly, did justice to their roles. The audience comprised of grades 6-11 and the hour long competition kept every one enthralled. The judges declared the winners of the competition and Ms. Nikhat who had graced the occasion, gave away the prizes. It was a heartening competition and the young talent that was showcased, was indeed impressive. We hope to have many such occasions in the future.
The second day, the 17th of November, witnessed the highly popular Book Character Competition, where participants from grades 6-8, assumed the roles of fictional characters, and looked and dressed the part. Each competitor had to deliver a dialogue that the character would have spoken in the book. Latent talents were aroused, and the young actors paraded across the basket ball court, casting indelible impressions on the enthusiastic audience. The best dressed actors and the most ingenious enactments were awarded prizes. The characters brought books to life, and the magical arena was transformed temporarily, into a scintillating medley of imaginative characters, straight from the pages of popular and classical fiction.
There was an English quiz, organised by Ms Sukaina for the grades 6-8, held in the Multipurpose on Tuesday, the 18th of Nov. The presenters were girls of grade 8 and it was wonderful to see the energetic enthusiasm of the participants. There were 4 competing teams – from the 4 houses – and every team had 1 member from each grade – so it comprised of 3 highly charged contestants. The quiz had a visual round, buzzer round and a rapid fire round, with questions relating to literature and English grammar, being thrown at the four teams. The audience was equally interested in the proceedings and the entire quiz had everyone on the edge of their seats, as the participants delved into the realms of their memories, and responded with accuracy and knowledge. There were audience questions as well which kept them fruitfully engaged and actively involved.
On the 19th of November, there was a “read-aloud” Competition organized for grades 6, 7 and 8, where various participants, read out passages from books – modulating voices, controlling tone and pitch and employing emotive expressions. The competitions were enjoyed equally by the listening audience and the participants, as each classroom came alive with the forceful renditions. In another area, children displayed their creative skills, fashioning unusual and unique bookmarks to be used during reading breaks. The colourful and imaginative designs were true presentations of art and of course the best ones were awarded.
On Thursday the 20th of November, the English week drew to a close with a magnificent role play competition, organized by Ms. Jemima for the grade 6 girls, in the Multipurpose hall. The remarkable feat was that the girls had directed, produced, and written the scripts, for the genre of horror and fear, themselves. The actors were impressive and the audience was suitably exposed to a lot of imaginative mystery, gore and terror. Here again there were 6 groups contesting and each group had 6 members. The role plays were judged by Ms Sukaina and the best group was awarded. Simultaneously, a vocabulary challenge was held for grade 7 and 8 and as the contest proceeded, it was gratifying to hear the girls shoot off answers, meanings and synonyms in quick succession.
All too soon, the English week came to a close on the 20th of November. The week had been a truly inspiring, informative and entertaining one, and though everyone felt it was regrettably short, they also emerged, wiser and more knowledgeable about English – a true celebration of the most widely spoken language in the world.
Last week, we talked about how to start and organize your English Club. This week, we share ideas for effective and fun activities to do with your English Club.
The age and language level of your English club members will make a difference in what activities you should choose. For clubs with younger participants, more organized activities might work better. But for clubs with older members, informal meetings that encourage discussion are effective. It is important to know your club members and the kinds of interests they have.
Warm-up activities are good ways to start any club meeting. They help people relax and prepare them to start speaking English. Here are a few warm-up activities that can be used with any age or skill level.
The first is called Two Truths and a Lie. This activity can be done in pairs, small groups, or the whole English club. One person comes up with three facts about themselves. Two of the facts are true, and one is a lie. They tell the group the three facts, and the group must decide which one is the lie. Each participant takes a turn with this activity.
Another warm-up activity is Salad Bowl. For this activity, tell everyone to think of a person, place or thing and write it down on a piece of paper. Collect the pieces of paper and mix them around in a big bowl. Then, divide the club into two teams. Each team then takes turns having one person go to the front of the room to take a piece of paper. The person must then describe the word to other team members. As soon as a team member correctly guesses the word, the person then selects another word from the bowl. Each team has 30 seconds to guess as many words as possible.
Finally, for groups that do not like activities, you can simply start a club meeting with a warm-up discussion question, or by sharing a word or quote of the day.
Primary Meeting Activities
After a warm-up activity, it is time to begin the main meeting activities. These may be organized activities or less formal ones.
Club debates or discussions are the most popular type of English club activity. They let people use English in a more natural way than in a classroom.
It helps to have a new discussion topic for each meeting. This helps keep conversations from being too repetitive. It also encourages club members to learn new vocabulary words.
Debates are good ways to keep participants interested. They create excitement, and make the speaker practice using new words. If your club has many members, it is a good idea to divide the group into several smaller groups. If possible, each of the small groups should be given a different discussion or debate subject.
Every 15 to 30 minutes, people can move on to the next subject.
You can encourage club members to come up with debate subjects for future meetings.
- Guest speakers and presentations
You can also invite people to give presentations in English. They may be politicians, non-profit workers, teachers, police, and so on. Participants can ask the presenter questions. Your participants can also take turns giving presentations on subjects that are important to them, as well.
- English-language songs and readings
Another fun club activity is to listen to popular songs in English. To make this more effective, you can provide the words of the song to the club members. Participants can then use the song’s message as a discussion topic. You can also select a section from an English-language book to read and discuss as a group.
Or, if your participants enjoy acting, creating short skits or plays in English are fun language exercises.
While having interesting club meetings is important for keeping participants motivated, you should avoid too much repetition. Doing special activities with your club from time to time gives participants something to look forward to, builds friendships, and provides new ways to learn.
You can organize a short trip. Your club can see an English-language movie together at a theater, go on a hike, or attend a concert to watch an English-language band. Another idea is to visit a museum with an English-speaking guide.
If club members enjoy writing, collect English-language essays, stories, or poetry that they write. You can publish their work together in a newsletter.
Another idea is to create friendly competitions with your club’s participants or between other English clubs. Poetry, speech, or debate competitions are especially effective.
For a scavenger hunt, you can create a list of items that club members must find or photograph around their city or neighborhood. But instead of directly saying what the items are, give them hints about what they are.
Another idea is to host English-language film viewings during a club meeting or at other locations.
Finally, have a party to celebrate a holiday or just for fun. This is a way to help create a friendly, informal environment for club members. Remember to encourage English-only conversations at such events, however.
There are hundreds of possibilities for English club activities. This list provides you with a good start. The important thing to remember is to keep things fun and keep your club members motivated.
Phil Dierking wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Are you in an English club? What advice do you have for starting a club? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
hint – n. a small piece of information that helps you guess an answer or do something more easily
informal - adj. having a friendly and relaxed quality
motivate – v. to give (someone) a reason for doing something
relax – v. to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff
skit – n. a short, funny story or performance