How to make every topic interesting for teenagers?

How to make every topic interesting for teenagers?

Although teenagers are fantastic students to work with, they are so picky. It is quite common that teachers struggle to motivate them to work with some topics. There are lots of topics they don’t want to discuss. How to engage them in the lesson on environment, education, family?  

In this article you will find some ideas how to make lessons interesting for bored teenagers.

Topic 1 -- Sport

Inject humour into the topics. Show the video of the cheese rolling contest in 2018.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Discuss with students what unusual sports they know. Ask them to change the rules of common sports to make them bizarre. For example, chess boxing or underwater hockey.

Topic 2 -- Food

Implement the elements of CLIL and let your student learn more about food from different countries. Show your students pictures of different dishes, let them talk what they think of it. Then change pairs/groups and give the descriptions of dishes, the students should discuss whether they changed their opinion or not. Finally, show the video how people try this food and make students vote for the most disgusting thing. Choose video on the TRY channel. For example, this one:  

Watch this video on YouTube.

Topic 3 -- Family

Why should students discuss some families from the coursebook who they even don’t know? Choose pictures of THEIR favourite celebrities or other famous people from Instagram.

For example, these photos can help you discuss the topic of relationships in the family.

Discuss what kind of relationships Shawn Mendes has with his mother and sister, have debates what quarrels they usually have about (first, brainstorm what teenagers and parents usually argue about, student even will not notice that this vocabulary list is from their “boring” coursebook), ask to investigate Instagram and, finally, reveal the truth:

Topic 4 -- Daily routines

Teenagers don’t like to make sentences like “I get up and 7 o’clock then I brush my teeth and have breakfast.” But they will make such sentences if they want to win the Tumble Tower game. Write the activity or time on each block. Students remove blocks one by one, once they make a sentence with the word/phrase, they will need to place the block on the top of the tower and then the next player moves his or her turn.

Topic 5 -- Art

When students hear the word “art” the majority of them tend to think about classical music, ballet, paintings of landscapes and so on. But what about modern art, advertisement (Yes! that is also art), contemporary songs in the lesson? Things are developing rapidly in this area. Stay tuned.

Trigger your students with the quiz “Is it Art or not?” where students need to find the difference between modern art and paintings by toddlers.

Art is supposed to have a message, street art is not an exception. Show pictures of graffiti in the street and let students find the meanings behind the picture.


Street art by Banksy

If you want your students to describe pictures, play the boardgame “Dixit” (you can use “Dixit” itself or even choose pictures from the Internet). The rules of the games are the following:

One player is the storyteller for the turn and looks at the images on the 6 cards in her/his hand. From one of these, she/he makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players). Each other player selects the card in their hands which best matches the sentence and gives the selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others.

Which topics are boring for your students? What do you do to make your teenagers interested in them?


Мария Цедрик

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