- Keywords: Warm-up activity, online lesson, landmark, location
- Learner English level: Beginner and above
- Learner maturity: Elementary school and above
- Preparation time: 0-5 minutes
- Activity time: 5-10 minutes
- Materials: Photographs of locations, list of facts about locations
Now that we’ve all been exposed to our “new normal” of online lessons for a few months, maybe we are starting to feel a little more comfortable with the setting. We’ve had time to find our feet—as have our students—and, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. So, we’re ready to try our hand at introducing some new and exciting techniques to make our lessons even more fun. A great chance to do that is with this warm-up activity at the start of the lesson. Here’s one for the more tech-savvy instructors, which takes advantage of the background feature of online teaching applications. The difficulty can be adjusted easily for children or adults through the pictures you choose to work with.
Step 1: Find some pictures of famous landmarks around the world.
Step 2: Set one of these as your background picture on Zoom or other apps that support this feature.
Step 1: Inform students that you have “traveled” to a famous location.
Step 2: Point out some features of the location in the picture, without naming the landmark or place name in question.
Step 3: Ask students to guess where you are.
Step 4: If students struggle to guess the location, add some extra details, such as the weather conditions, the type of food you ate there, how long it took you to fly there from Japan, etc.
Step 5: If time allows, change the picture to a new location and repeat the game as before.
Option 1: Play the game as above at first, then ask students to have pictures prepared for the next class so that they can take turns at presenting too. If you like the idea of trying out this activity, but you or your students lack the technical know-how to pull it off smoothly, it is also possible to present using a slide instead. This ensures that all class members can be included equally.
Option 2: When having students present in larger classes, divide the class into smaller groups as a way to save time. This can be done using breakout rooms in an online lesson. This ensures you don’t have to spend too much class time on the activity while also allowing everyone a chance to participate in the game.
Option 3: This activity has the potential to be developed into more than just a warm-up. Students could use this game as a jumping-off point for a larger project where they learn about and present on a location or landmark of their choice.
This warm-up activity allows learners to engage with their classmates in the online environment in a new and exciting way. It is flexible enough to work with large or small groups and can be adapted easily for various ability levels. Young learners can take part with a well-known landmark-—the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty—while adult learners could develop the activity further, perhaps sharing an interesting location they visited on vacation that may not be as well known. Learning about the world around them through English will help students further develop their interest in the language, and this activity really helps to encourage that learning.