5 Ideas for the End of the Year

You’ve finished the coursebook, the final exams have been taken, and the end of the year is fast approaching – but still you have some time to fill. Here are some ideas for that last lesson (or last few lessons) of term.

1. Ask the students!

Provided the students are old enough/have a high enough level of English, this is almost always my first step when deciding what to do in the last lesson. Watch a film? Play a game they love (or a game you don’t normally let them play – Mafia is a firm favourite with my grade 5 class)? At the end of the year students are tired (particularly if they are still at school/university) and giving them a treat in the final lesson is my way of giving them a reward for all their hard work.

A word of warning though: I always make it clear to my students that they are making suggestions, and we will do what they ask for within reason. Your teenagers will ask to watch 18-rated films. Your tweens will ask if they can spend the whole lesson asleep. The chances are though that they will also make at least one sensible suggestion. Assuming they do, you don’t need to read further. If they are terminally unimaginative (or only capable of making inappropriate suggestions), read on for some more ideas.

2. Make your own boardgame (pre-int +)

This was an activity I chanced upon when needing to fill a 90 minute ‘end of course’ lesson – and it worked so well I’ve repeated it several times since! (My classes generally have around 8 students or less so I normally do this as a whole group activity. With a larger class however the students could make their boardgame in smaller groups and either play their own or a different group’s game).

You will need: A simple boardgame layout (can be snakes and ladders, a normal boardgame, or anything else you fancy – print one or draw it on a piece of paper, then colour squares at random the same colours as your slips of paper), slips of coloured paper (I tend to use 4 different colours), at least one copy of the coursebook, a die and counters.

Tell the students that they are going to make a boardgame – but that first they need to make some questions that will be part of the game. Allocate one colour paper to one topic, for example: green = grammar, red = vocabulary, blue = content, yellow =  personal. You can make the categories whatever you want, but I usually take the opportunity to make some revision-based (students can look back in the coursebook for help with writing them) and some more fun (‘If you were an animal, what would you be?’ or ‘What are you going to do in the summer holiday?’). You can also mix it up a little by allocating one colour to be forfeit cards (Sing a Justin Bieber song. Pretend to be a chicken).  Elicit some examples of questions and then hand out the blank slips of paper – 2 or 3 of each colour per student should do. Set a time limit of 10-15 mins for students to write their questions, monitor and correct accordingly. Collect in all the slips of paper and put them in piles according to colour.

Now comes the fun part! Put the students in groups (or sit the whole class together if it’s a small class) and play the game! If they land on a square with a colour, they must take a question with that colour and answer it.  If the coursebook-based questions are too obscure (ie. What colour is the boy’s t-shirt in the photo on p.63) then allow them to use the book for help, but set a time-limit for answering to prevent the game becoming too long and drawn out. Depending on how mean you’re feeling, you can allow conferring with other players (or not) and answering a question incorrectly can mean a student needs to go back a square (or not).

3. Make a ‘Can Do’ poster.

One for the YL teachers here. Most YL coursebooks work on the theory of ‘can do statments’ which students complete at the end of each unit or module – sentences which express what students feel they have learned, for example, ‘I can talk about the clothes I’m wearing’, ‘I can write about my daily routine’. Why not use this approach at the end of the year as well?

Encourage the students to think back about what they’ve learned in their English lessons during the year – the front of their coursebook normally has a plan of the areas covered in each unit. What topics have they talked about? What vocabulary have they learned?

Students can either make a whole class poster about all the things they have learned (with each student or small group drawing/writing a section about a topic), or students can make individual posters about their favourite topic or the best thing they’ve learned.

4. ‘Remember when…’ (pre-int+)

Sometimes you might not have time to (or might not want to) have an entire ‘end of year’ lesson. My colleague Jitka presented this lovely activity which could be used as a stand-alone exercise, or could be adapted and added to to create an entire lesson.

Write the words ‘Remember when…’ on the board, and ask the students for some ideas to complete the sentence. Now encourage the students to think back over the last year of English lessons… can they think of any funny, enjoyable or strange moments? Give each student 2 or 3 slips of paper and ask them to write some of their memories of the course, each beginning with the words ‘Remember when…’. Set a time limit for writing. Once the students have all written their ideas, ask them to stand up and mingle, bringing their slips of paper with them. Ask the students to share their memories with each other – can they find anyone who also remembers that thing? At the end of the activity you can ask the students for feedback – what was the funniest memory someone shared? Was there anything someone shared that they had forgotten?

5. End of Year Awards

A lot of schools have end of year awards ceremonies for their students – handing out certificates for exams and course completion. Why not have something similar in your class, but a little more personal?

There are different ways to do this. You could complete it over more than one lesson – and in the first lesson ask the students what awards they would nominate their classmates for. This enables you to personalise both the categories and the students nominated. Alternatively, you could choose the categories yourself, and simply ask for nominations from the students (ensure everyone wins something though!)

Again, hand out pieces of paper to all members of the class. Ask them what kind of awards people are nominated for (events like the Oscars can be a good example). Give them some examples of awards people in the class could be nominated for, ie. ‘The Most Hard-Working Student’, ‘The Student Who Always Forgets their Homework’, ‘Class Comedian’. Students can vote as a class for the awards that will be given.

Alternatively, tell the students which categories you are asking for nominations for (write them on the board to avoid confusion). Ask the students to write down one person they think should win each award – they should hide their papers from each other to keep it anonymous.

Collect the papers in and count up the votes – you can choose whether to write and present the certificates now (if you decided on the categories in advance) or whether to  hold an awards ceremony in the following lesson.

Some fantastic templates to print your own certificates can be found here – they look great printed on coloured paper!

You could make this a short activity, or turn it into a whole lesson ‘Awards Ceremony’ by nominating a presenter, asking the students to predict who they think will win each award, and asking the winning students to make a (short) speech.

What activities do you do in your end of year lessons? Will you try any of these ideas?

Only a few weeks to go now! Good luck surviving until the end of the year!

Ideas 3 and 4 come from a seminar run by my colleague Jitka Urbanova at IH Prague.

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