Using English during the summer holidays

Mark Ormerod proposes a selection of projects and activities that encourage your pupils to use their English between June and September.

1. The Summer challenge checklist

RTEmagicC_MacmillanPhotolibrary_41888.jpgAsk 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 holidays. With their help, write on the board a list of activities that they could do.





Activities I can do in English this summer

  • Listen to English pop songs
  • Watch TV/DVDs in English
  • Send an e-mail/SMS in English
  • Listen to/sing the songs in my English coursebook
  • Read/listen to the stories in my English coursebook
  • Play a computer game in English
  • 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 holidays. 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 Summer challenge checklist .

2. A holiday scrapbook


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

When I was a child, my grandparents used to give 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 such as: The I-Spy list of animals and bugs and The I-Spy list of foreign things

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.

RTEmagicC_Summertime1.JPG4. 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.

Variations of The summer treasure hunt can be ideal for teachers and helpers working with children on summer camps.

5. The postcard project


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 how to prepare the postcard project.




6. The picture dictionary

RTEmagicC_Picture_dictionary_01.JPGI 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.

Making that first class dictionary inspired a handful of pupils to illustrate picture dictionaries of their own. 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.

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.