English and adventures - high school class

I’m doing a few odds and sods for one of the better high schools at the moment, half-price with the intention of building a longer-term relationship. I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t think it’s enough to ‘teach English’, I’m all about activities using the language instead. Doing stuff should have intrinsic value beyond the usual syllabus, such as teaching some useful skill, even if it’s presented as a way to activate language.

So I’ve done a bit of presentation skills coaching with one of their clubs, and now they’ve asked me to do a one-off class which I would be interested to hear other people’s ideas for.

It’s just a one-hour gig, repeated twice. (Bringing my total for the month to 4hrs!) 42 students each, all girls aged 15-16. Their general academic ability is pretty high and they’re a motivated group, but the levels of language ability/confidence are going to vary quite a lot. It’s a pretty sure bet that they’ll be shy as this will be the first time I’m meeting these students.

This class uses the Studio Classroom magazine, and this month’s feature is ‘Adventurers’. English Head thinks it would ‘fun’ to have me come in and ‘do something’, because I’m an adventurous type. No specific learning objectives, not even a requirement to recycle any new vocab from the mag. It can be a lecture, slideshow, activity class, pretty much anything.

So what would you do? Tell them about your adventures? Have them come up with adventurous stuff they’d like to do in groups? Open their eyes to some of the opportunities around Taiwan? Discuss the relationship between adventurousness and professional success? Showcase some cool stuff you would like to lead them into in the future? Bring your dive gear in for them to play with?

The regular teacher is the head of English, and she’ll be sitting in. She likes me, and seems to be disatisfied with the overly academic nature of the education system. I’m guessing that this gig is for her as much as it is for the students on the day. She wants … something. The question is what.

(There are 3000 students age 15-18 in the school, so there’s an opportunity to devise some kind of future extra-curricular activity program for a few of them if it can be made to seem like a good idea.)

Thinking caps on, everyone. I have two weeks to put this together.

Hi Loretta,
I doubt you’re going to get 15-18 year old girls who are shy around you to open up and give any interesting suggestions for adventures…I guess you’ve gone the “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” --“Sleeping” “Buy a basketball” etc. route before.

Maybe you could round up a couple of truly outrageous photos, video clips or whatever type of media appeals to you depictions of really off the wall activities and work up some sort of presentation followed by some kind of feedback from them, maybe in groups. Maybe they could select the activity they would most like to do (be in least terror of doing?) or you could assign them to an activity and they could have to share why they would or would not like doing it, why they think Celebrity X would be good at doing it, why they recommend that Teacher Y do it on his/her next vacation, or whatever.Give them a set amount of time, circulate with vocab issues (you might want to bone up on this kind of thing previously depending on how difficult the inquiries are likely to be and how likely you are to understand what they’re asking in English or Chinese about these weird activities) or provide a sheet, etc. etc. Then there’s always “what’s the weirdest activity you’ve participated in/heard of” and “invent a strange activity for Person X” if you like.

I’d also provide headshots of the folks involved in the original weird activities and make out that they’re mates of yours, just to make it interesting. Optional of course. I realize you wouldn’t know anyone who would do anything off the wall. :smiley:

I’m still waiting to hear about what happened to the movie project thingie.

I guess theres no chance to take them sailing, huh? They’d be taliking about that one for years.

At the beginning get them to brainstorm adventures for each of the five senses. Smell and taste adventures should help break the ice and get every relaxed and in the mood for more.

[quote=“canucktyuktuk”]I’m still waiting to hear about what happened to the movie project thingie.

I guess theres no chance to take them sailing, huh? They’d be taliking about that one for years.[/quote]

The girl that wanted to do the movie is still making excuses. I reminded her about it a while ago, but she just turned red.

Sailing, hmmm, it’s something to consider for the future but you’re up against a whole load of conservativism not to mention the liability issue. I took a couple of lads sailing from a high school years ago, and it was incredible the way the panic spread through the school establishment as they realised I wasn’t joking. I had people visiting me at home at all hours of the night asking “what if” questions. Never again!

(And anyway, the last time I did take a local person sailing she jumped into the sea 2 miles offshore because everyone else was doing it. Everyone else was wearing a swimming costume, and everyone else could swim, which are small but crucial differences.)

50 mins per class. It’s going to be a slideshow with some cool stuff, with a game to get them talking and asking questions. Baby steps.

I think interaction is the key in getting people to open up. Perhaps you can show them interesting photographs, and ask students to make up a story explaining whats happening (with prizes of course).

Or perhaps you can use a simplified system of pictionary / (or the one using playdough and involves a bit of acting).

Obviously with that many students not everyone is going to be able to get fully involved or you’ll spend the whole time trying to manage it. Identifying the less-shy students early on could be your key to success demonstration-wise.


Old Time Rock and Roll is a good one, from Risky Business. The clip has Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear so should be a big hit with the teeny boppers.

That sounds fun. Can you give us a bit of a description what it’s about, where you got it, how much it cost etc.

[quote=“canucktyuktuk”]I’m still waiting to hear about what happened to the movie project thingie.

Hollywood stole my idea. Why, if I had a dollar for everytime hollywood stole one of my ideas I’d have, well, at least two dollars. Lonely Planet was my idea too.


You bastard. I just lost all respect for you.

This as supposed to be about adventures, not ‘seeing the world in comfort and safety without any possibility of being challenged in any way at all, in the company of a hundred thousand other backpackers.’

You should do an easter egg hunt. Paint fifty easter eggs each with their own distinctive and highly original design and then hide them in various places around the school. Inside the eggs put wise and pithy phrases like, I dunno, you think of something. The one who finds the most eggs gets dinner out with bob if and when he manages to make time in his incredibly busy social calender. You should work music in too. Perhaps each egg could contain an MB3 player or something. If there is anytime left in the hour take them in the boat on a voyage to those islands in Japan, the ones with the pyramids. That looked cool, heck even bob would go there and everybody knows how cool he is.

Probably the wisest pithiest phrase you’ve ever spoken. Have you ever tried it with students? I find them generally resistant to suggestions that they should think.

Momentarily out of pith so I’ll answer directly…

Every class. Really. They know that at some point I will ask them what is new and exciting and that I will wait for some sort of interesting answer. I am fairly genuine in my response. If what is new and exciting isn’t, well, it isn’t. If it is an entire class can be made up around whatever they want to talk about. I just list the good vocab and recycle by means of goofy stories (as goofy as possible) with the odd bit of humor, insight, pathos what have you as happens to occur. It’s not my idea, it’s ironlady’s, and boy is it a humdinger. I don’t know if ironlady records the stories or makes listening excercises out of them in other ways as well but that’s what I do.

Nobody gets past me without learning the following two expressions either…

Tell me, and I will forget.

Show me, and I may remember.

But involve me, and I will understand.


I do not open up the truth to anyone who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out anyone who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to anyone and they cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson.

The first is from a students perspective of course and the second from a teachers. As far as I am concerned a teacher who understand the first one is entitled to some interpretation of the second.

I agree with Tycoon. Don’t make the session about you being adventurous. Make it about them explaining what adventurous activities are. Get them in groups and give them some stimulus and ask them to make a poster highlighting the adventure activites. Paintball, hiking, white water rafting, stuff they have likely done or will do one day in Taiwan. If the groups feel confident have them present their work as a plenary activity. If not, they can just walk round and look at each others displays. At the end maybe they could write down some of the new words they have learned that day. Right at the end you could give them info about centres where they can pursue these activities, or take names of those who’d be interested in doing a group activity in Taiwan. You only have 50 mins (?), get in, wow them with a FIVE min intro about adventure activities (dvd, pics of you being adventurous, whatever you choose), tell them what they are going to achieve by the end of the lesson, set up groups, let them choose the activity they want to make a poster about, get them started. You do some mingling, make sure they are on task. Set aside 10 mins at end for presentations, or just make an ‘exhibition’ if they appear shy, let them wander and explore, get a bit of feedback via a sheet, give them some info and kick them out. Job done.

5000 nt please.

Adventure is boring.

Rubbish. Today I got the bloke in Subway to put the mustard on BEFORE the salad stuff. I’m still on an adrenalin high.
Temp is beckoning.

Oh god, you eat SUBWAY?

Actually, I had my hair done ‘natural brown’ instead of ‘natural light brown’, yesterday.