Teaching Tip 18: Pacing

How:

  1. Change the pace of the lesson by breaking things up a bit. Instead of simply doing one activity straight after another, allow a little time for something different (pronunciation work, for example - see TT4 for further information).

  2. You can also change the pace during a lesson by allowing time for a brainstorming session (see TT15 for further explanation).

  3. Another way to liven up the pace is to put a time limit on some activities - "You have 2 minutes for this, so get going!" Or introducing an element of competition - put the class into small groups and tell them that these are teams and the first team to finish this activity is the winner. (Prize = no homework, or something like that.) Maybe the activities which involve matching words with pictures would be a good one for this).

  4. Use other material during the lesson - your coursebook etc.

  5. Wake people up by giving them a 2 minute test on last week's vocabulary.

  6. Allow silence at appropriate times during the lesson - while students are reading the questions or during speaking activities when students are formulating a response (thinking of something to say). Silence in the classroom can be a bit unnerving at first but it doesn't mean you're not doing your job - students need time to absorb information and time to think. We all do.

Why:

  1. The lesson will become rather monotonous if it's just a case of "Do Activity 1, then do Activity 2, then [lo and behold] do Activity 3." (!)

  2. The lesson will become even more monotonous if the students spend all lesson with the same partner - change the partners over, make small groups instead, or (especially in a brainstorming session) have the group brainstorming directly to you.

Extra Info:

Exercises may be numbered 1, 2, 3 etc but that doesn't mean you have to do them in that order or feedback (see TT8) in that order. In the discussion activities I often tell students to read all the questions, select the 3 that interest them most and talk about them. When feeding back from another exercise I may ask for the answer to number 5 then number 2 then number 4 - keeps the students on their toes!

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© Liz Regan 2003