Lesson Fillers

One of the most frustrating things that the novice EFL teacher might be faced with is dead time: this occurs when the time for the work allocated by the lesson plan falls short of the real time actually used in the lesson itself to do all the work.
How can you fill in those last 10 or even 15 minutes at the end of the lesson, when the allocated work has already been done?

Below are a few suggestions, but whatever you decide to do – it’s often a good idea to have planned for such eventualities. You can do this by always having several different types of pre-prepared handout lesson fillers: the nature of the handout will depend on the type of lesson filler.

Quizzes & Tests    Spelling tests, grammar revision quizzes and tests, cloze tests, name the animal, flag, item of furniture, etc. all come under this heading. The important point here is that you should have the handouts prepared in advance: make sure that you allow enough time for the handout to be done in the dead time. You can then collect the handouts and return them in the next lesson. Make sure that you don’t set difficult aspects of grammar since the explanation of the grammar may consume too much time in the next lesson: the ‘principal parts of a verb’ is always a good handout.

Verbal & Visual Games Flash cards, pictures, hangman, spelling bees, what am I are some of the games and activities that can be very enjoyable lesson fillers. A good idea is to split the class into two or three teams; this makes it more exciting for the students. Try and keep the same teams and give each team a name: this enables the students to identify with each other and creates a sense of belonging. You could also keep a record of each team’s scores: winning is often a good motivator for doing well. Be warned though! In these types of activities there is always a tendency by some students to misbehave. Make sure that you set rules about how to play the games, for example: “Raise your hand to answer”; “Don’t shout”; “Don’t walk about”.

While not wanting to spoil the students’ enjoyment, it will be necessary for you to control the situation – otherwise it will degenerate into a free for all with students shouting, laughing, and generally messing about.