Physical Activity in the Classroom | TPR

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Physical Activity in the Classroom

Picture the scene…it’s Friday afternoon or Monday morning and your class is filled with sleepy, bored and tired students? What’s your go-to move to get some life back into your classroom? Maybe you don’t have one? Then you’re definitely in the right place.

Keep on reading to learn how to use physical activity in your ESL classroom. It’s not just for kids, but you can design activities for university students or adults that’ll get them out of their seats and moving around.

Physical Activity in the Classroom

Do you have bored, sleepy students? Yes? I used to.

Then, I started designing activities that got students moving around the classroom.

I love to have my students up and out of their seats, talking to their classmates. In order to achieve this, I get them to do surveys or something like this, “Do you like to” speaking activity.

Here are a few of the reasons why physical activity in the EFL classrooms works so well.

New Partners by Moving Around

Students will usually pick the same partners every class. Making your students get up out of their seats forces them to interact with some different people and hear different accents, grammar and vocabulary when they’re doing ESL speaking activities.

People who don’t necessarily know each other that well will more likely speak English to each other because it would just be awkward to go against the teacher’s wishes with someone they don’t know very well!

Wake Up through Physical Activity!

Have students get up out of their seats helps out the sleepy people. Standing up and walking around breaks up the tedium of the sitting and is a good way to have a mini-break in class but still get your EFL students to speak English.

Moving around the Classroom is Fun and Novel

When students have to walk around the classroom, interacting with their classmates, they get excited about it for some reason. I’m not really sure why but I see a lot of smiles and laughs.

Maybe it’s the novelty of actually speaking English to each other in a way that is non-threatening and pretty chilled out. Or, finding out a few random bits of information about their classmates.

Error Correction and Follow Up is Easy

I can walk around, give some feedback and supervise in a less obvious way.

Usually at the end of the activity, I’ll give some group feedback. I noticed by the end of the semester all my classes were much better at this type of thing because I gave them feedback each time (or maybe it was just that they had practiced it!) For example, I would say:

“You were very good at talking to everybody, but I heard a lot of you speaking Korean!”

“Your speaking was very good but why did you write your answers in Korean? It’s time for practicing English, writing and speaking!”

“I heard lots of English but pay attention to the grammar a little more. Here is one of the biggest mistakes I heard: …”

Isn’t TPR Just for Kids?

You may think that physical activity in the classroom is just for kids, right? I mean, TPR (Total Physical Response) in the purest sense probably is. After all, what adults wants to do the following:

  • Touch something blue!
  • Lift your left leg!

It borders on the ridiculous. However, you can certainly get adults standing up and doing things. Although you may get some initial resistance, students usually enjoy this opportunity to do something different in the language classroom. After all, most people don’t like sitting in an uncomfortable chair for 2-3 hours. Or, talking to the same person for that entire time.

Total Physical Response: What is it and How to Do It?

Check out this short video to pick up some tips for how to use TPR with kids.

Practical Speaking Activities for Your ESL Classes:

For even more ideas to use physical activity in the classroom, check out this book on Amazon: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults  Many of them involve having students up and about, interacting with lots of different people.

The book is available in print, digital and audiobook formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office as a handy reference guide. Or, take a copy with you on your phone or tablet for lesson planning on the go. You may want to listen to the book when commuting to work or exercising.

The activities start with a brief overview so that you’re able to see, at a glance whether or not it’ll work for your students. Then you’ll find the detailed instructions that will guide you, step by step through the activity. And don’t forget the helpful teaching tips to make your class even more awesome.

Whatever the case, get yourself some serious inspiration for fun and engaging speaking activities for your TEFL classes. Check it out for yourself over on Amazon:

shop-now-buttonPhysical Activity in the Classroom: Have your Say!

Do you like to get your students out of their seats and moving around the classroom? What kinds of activities do you use Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful teaching resource.

Last update on 2019-07-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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One Comment

  1. Absolutely agree! It’s so much teaching kids and it’s so important keeping them active and engaged. In the past, I’ve used treasure hunts, hiding games, song & dance to make junior classes fun and engaging. The best part about working with kids is that they are so responsive.

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