“But I don’t have the time!”

January 11, 2016


This week I have four tests planned and a project and a small test are still waiting to be checked. Resting in a pile right next to my keyboard, I hope to find the motivation and time to really start with it today.

Not to mention the lengthy meeting I will have tomorrow, starting at 1 and ending at 5 pm, as well as an extra planned 3 hour meeting Thursday morning and a promotional afternoon and evening on Friday.

If my situation is anything like that of other teachers, it is no surprise teachers are not very enthusiastic about finding time to do CLIL. Right?

Keep prep time minimal

I do not like spending an hour on preparing an activity that will only take a couple of minutes to actually achieve something in class. And I cannot imagine anyone does.

Of course I use more advanced activities every now and then, but these activities should also last for quite some time in class. An example would the the “Math Market” activity I recently used. It took me some time to prepare, but in the lesson the students were working and collaborating for at least 20 minutes.

And the best part?

All I had to do was watch!

Student created activities

With that said, I still prefer quick and ready to use activities to be used in my lessons. Activities that could even be created by students themselves if needed.

For example, you probably know the game “Taboo Word”. One word needs to be described and with four more words not allowed to be used someone needs to explain to their group what the main word is.

Quite a fun activity to start or end your lesson and activate language, but you have to think of all of these words to be able to do this. At least I did, the first time I did this activity.

But then it occur ed to me: Why can’t I make my students do the work?

So, after having them go through the activity one time, I explained I wanted them to come up with the target keyword as well as the taboo words themselves.

And if worked like a charm! I could even do the activity multiple lessons with all of the words the different groups came up with. They were even eager to ‘lead’ the activity in front of the class with their own keyword, something they would normally find quite scary.

Ready to use activities

To help you minimize prep time and still have an engaging lesson, allow me to give you three more examples of activities you can use whenever you see fit.

1) Word to sentence

Provide two words that have to do with the topic at hand and ask students to create sentences with these words. You can make this harder by mentioning words that have nothing to do with each other or by naming three words.

A possible follow-up to this activity might be a sentence-to-paragraph activity, where students have to use their sentences and create summaries.

All you need to do is write down a couple of words. That’s easily done right?

2) Bingo

Ask your students to list the 10 most common words in the chapter/paragraph/text. Of course you can change this number to whatever suits you.

You then read from the text book the words you think are most important. The student who was the words you mentioned first wins.

Easy and fun to do! No preparation time needed and you can check for understanding by asking for an explanation of the different words every time you mention one.

3) Listening dictation

Want to check if your students are really listening to you? Just ask them to take notes as you read a new piece of text from the book, preferably containing a few new words.

Mention they can compare notes later on, but you will only read the text once. No more than 5 sentences are needed to make this task a difficult one!

Afterwards ask your students to read their combined texts and check if they really got all the important parts of the text.

Other articles on activities

But there is more! Below you can find other blog posts I wrote concerning creating activities. With these I am sure you can create CLIL activities, even if you have no time!

3 ready to use activities to activate language in your lesson

Three CLIL activities to start a lesson

A quick way to activate language in a lesson: The Alphabet

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