This is Issue 21, Summer 2010, click here to come back to current edition
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Using English during the summer holiday


Even with the new earlier return-to-school date in September, the summer holiday will still be more than 10 weeks long.  10 weeks!  That’s time enough for our pupils to forget all the English they’ve learnt this year.  Mark Ormerod proposes a selection of projects and activities that might encourage your pupils to use their English between June and September.




                                                      1. The Summer challenge checklist


Ask your pupils what activities they will do in English this summer.  Get them to acknowledge that, if they make an effort, they can use their English during the holiday.  With their help, write on the board a list of activities that they could do.


              Activities I can do in English this summer


                   1. Listen to English pop songs             

              2. Watch TV/DVDs in English             

              3. Send an e-mail/sms in English             

              4. Listen to /sing the songs in their English coursebook             

              5. Read /listen to the stories in your English coursebook             

              6. Play a computer game in English             

              7. Speak to a tourist in English    


In one of the lessons towards the end of term, give the pupils a checklist of the activities you would like them to do in English over the holiday.  Challenge them to do all or some of these activities at least once before they return to school in September.  As pupils do each activity, they should get a parent or relative to sign the checklist.


Click here to see/download an example of a Summer Challenge Checklist.  



                                              2. A holiday scrapbook

                                               (Click on picture to enlarge)


Encourage pupils to keep souvenirs of their holiday such as: bus, cinema and zoo tickets, photos, leaflets, postcards, stamps, etc.  After the holiday, use the pupils’ scrapbooks to prompt conversation about where they went and what they did.






                                                                 3.  I-Spy lists

                                               (Click on picture to enlarge)


When I was a child, my grandparents used to me I-spy lists to keep me entertained on long journeys in the car. The lists simply named a dozen objects that I might see from the car/train/coach during the journey.

Parents can create such lists with their children before going on a journey or for a walk in the country or for a day on the beach.

Teachers can prepare more complex lists of things, in English of course, that the pupils might see over the summer.  During the holiday, the pupils tick the items off as they see them, write up where they saw them and get a relative to sign as a witness.


Click here to see/download examples of teachers’ I-Spy lists.



                                                       4. The summer treasure hunt


Simply set the pupils the challenge of finding 26 objects (one for each letter of the alphabet) over the summer holiday.  Each object should be small and flat enough to stick in a scrapbook, which, when finished, will effectively make an A to Z Book of Objects.


L is for LYRICS
Estas vacaciones, seguro que se te pega una de las canciones del verano.  Busca una copia de la LETRA.  Escríbela.  Y si la canción está en inglés, dos puntos más.  Busca una foto del cantante.

K is for KETCHUP
Seguro que comes algo con KETCHUP este verano.  Guarda la etiqueta.

M is for MAP
Pases donde pases este verano, consigue un MAPA del sitio.


Variations of this activity can be ideal for teachers and helpers working with children on summer camps.


Click here to see/download an example of The summer treasure hunt.




                                     5. The postcard project

                                               (Click on picture to enlarge)


Why not get each pupil to write and send you a postcard during the summer holiday.  You can then make a big display of the cards for when the pupils return in September.


Click here to see a full explanation of how to carry out The postcard project (this article originally appeared in Issue 12 of the Macmillan Magazine and can be accessed through the Archive section).




                                           6. The picture dictionary

                                               (Click on picture to enlarge)



I first made a Picture Dictionary with a group of 23 pupils.  Each pupil chose one letter of the alphabet to illustrate.  All their illustrated pages were then put into alphabetical order and spiral bound with a cover.  It was a very rewarding group project that took very little time at all.


Making that first class dictionary inspired a handful of pupils to illustrate picture dictionaries of their own.  And I have since gone on to propose that some of my more artistic pupils make such dictionaries over the summer, using their coursebooks to find words for each letter.


The dictionaries can be made using sheets of A4 paper, or the pupil can simply use a notebook with at least 26 pages.


Click here to see/download a template for a page of a picture dictionary.




Whatever activities you encourage your pupils to do in English this summer, don’t leave it until the last lesson to tell them about it.  Start getting them interested at least two weeks beforehand.

And where ever you spend your summer holiday, ENJOY IT!


Mark Ormerod is a teacher, teacher trainer and the author of the Summer Time holiday book series (Macmillan ELT, 2009). He is also co-author of Find Out! (Macmillan ELT, 2007).



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