If your lesson is only 45 or 50 minutes, you might often complete much less than was planned. Teachers want their lessons to be vibrant and useful but time flies so quickly that at the end of the lesson they feel frustrated. So much time was wasted on a “proper” warm-up and homework analysis. If you feel this way, consider one-minute warm-up activities to save time for other significant tasks. The activities in the article can be adapted to levels from A2 to C1.
Guess the topic of the lesson
It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to lead in almost any topic, to engage learners and to maintain mini-discussion. You can show one picture or make a collage, demonstrate it and make students guess what the lesson is going to be about.
For example, the topic is ‘Artificial intelligence’.
Accept all ideas before you announce the correct answer and ask a follow-up question, for example,
Are you more optimistic or pessimistic about artificial intelligence technology?
My favourite things
Everyone loves talking about things they love. Choose 1-3 categories connected to the topic of the lesson and elicit some ideas.
For example, the topic is Travelling.
My favourite summer destination is…
My favourite place to stay is…
My favourite activity when I’m on holiday is….
If you have more time, students can ask/give more details.
Is it the same in your country?
Many students are interested in the culture of other countries especially English-speaking ones. Prepare 1-3 facts about English people in connection with the topic of the lesson. Ask learners to discuss if it’s the same or different in their country.
For example, the topic is ‘Shopping’.
Facts about shops in the UK:
— Hypermarkets are open from Monday to Saturday from around 6.00 or 7.00 to 22.00 or 23.00.
— Smaller convenience stores, such as Sainsbury’s Local, are usually located in city centers, hypermarkets are situated on the outskirts of town.
— Charity shops are extremely common in the UK.
(Adapted from internations.org)
If you need statistics on various subjects, use this website.
For example, insights and facts about the London Tube.
Agree or disagree?
Choose 1-2 controversial statements on the topic. Students can discuss the ideas in pairs, individual learners tell their teacher if they agree or disagree and why.
For example, the topic is ‘Family’
It’s better to come from a big family as you can learn a lot from your siblings.
— If you’re an only child it’s much harder to make friends later on in life.
— Have you ever been in these situations?
This activity is a nice alternative to discussion questions that are heavily overused. Choose 1-3 pictures that illustrate some problems or interesting cases on the topic.
For example, the topic is ‘Food’.
Students can interpret the pictures in their own way, not as you expected.