Making lessons more interesting and interactive is a constant goal of every teacher I know. Despite the wide range of online tools and teaching materials available, props are probably the most common way of doing this. The good thing about props in TEFL classes is that they can be used even when technology is not cooperating. Many teaching props are very versatile and having a selection of things within reach while we’re teaching can enable us to add fun and spontaneity to our lessons. We all know that we should have a whiteboard and some puppets or soft toys to hand when we teach, but we also have our own favourite additions. Here are five of my favourites.
Use of Paper dolls in TEFL classes
Discussing the doll’s clothing can be a useful lead-in to the lesson’s topic because it provides context clues, which helps to overcome any remaining language barriers. For example, if asked where a paper doll wearing shorts and a T-shirt is going, the student will likely guess summer outings like the beach. They’ll know it is unlikely that the doll is going skiing, so the lead-in to the lesson’s topic can be more of a discussion.
Paper dolls can also be used to teach about body parts, clothes and describing appearances. Another fun activity is using paper dolls to act out or write a story.
These are particularly useful props because they’re often close to hand when you suddenly need to demonstrate or practice a concept. In addition to being useful for teaching numbers and colours, they can help explain verbs like falling, holding and throwing.
Coloured pens can also be used to teach determiners and prepositions in TEFL classes. They can be counted or placed in/on/next to something like a cup, for example
Use of Picture books in TEFL classes
Picture books can help teach verbs like reading and holding. They also contain useful vocabulary. Story books can be a fun way of introducing and reviewing sentence structure. Books for even younger children are useful for teaching colours, fruit and animal names.
In addition to being used for teaching, picture books can also be fun to read at the start or end of classes.
Flashcards are helpful props for drilling concepts but they can also be used for games. You can give your students a quick glimpse of a flashcard and as them to guess what it is or not look at the flashcard and guess what it is (with clues from your student) yourself. You could even deliberately guess the wrong thing to make the lesson a bit more fun and interactive in TEFL classes.
Shakers are a nice option for teaching pronunciation and fluency in TEFL Classes. You can use a shaker to demonstrate the number of syllables or the stressed syllables. If you’re teaching lessons on poetry, a shaker can be a helpful way of demonstrating the correct rhythm. You can also experiment with different stresses and rhythms to add a playful element to your classes.