Conversation starters and warm-up ideas for autumn lessons

Autumn is a perfect time to change something. If you’re looking for some ideas for autumn lessons and break routine — here we are, with this list of questions to discuss with your students. Some questions are good for a brief autumn warm-up while others might lead to a heartfelt autumn-inspired conversation. The questions are aimed at adult students of different levels.

The articles suggested here could be used as a basis for a follow-up discussion. They contain authentic vocabulary to help your students learn more autumn-related words and collocations.

Poetry

Let’s start with the most romantic idea: to discuss an autumn haiku and try to create your own poem. I loved this one:

Spiderwebs stroke me
In the expanding darkness
Of morning dog walks

by Rananda Rich

Haiku is a three-line Japanese verse that follows a syllable-based rhythm, usually 5-7-5. It’s all about capturing a mood.

Haikus were traditionally written about nature, and autumn is traditionally the season of inspiration, so here is a challenge for you! More haikus here: 19 Haiku Poems About Autumn

Check it out: Осенние песни на английском для ваших уроков с детьми

General questions to discuss

  1. What are you most looking forward to about autumn?
  2. What is something you want to learn this autumn?
  3. What is your favourite autumn activity?
  4. Did you use to like autumn when you were at school?
  5. Pumpkin spice lattes or mulled apple cider?
  6. What are your favourite autumn recipes? (31 Peak Fall Recipes To Make Every Day This October)
  7. What are your autumn self-care rituals? (30 Self-Care Ideas for Autumn)
  8. Climate change: have autumns become warmer? (How will global warming affect autumn?)

Check it out: Разминка на осеннюю тематику

Would You Rather

  1. Enjoy the autumn here or go to see the spring in Australia? (Things to Do in Australia’s Spring)
  2. See the autumn leaves change or the spring cherry blossoms change?
  3. Have an extra month of summer weather or of sunny autumn weather?
  4. Carve a pumpkin or eat pumpkin oatmeal?
  5. Jump in a giant pile of leaves or jump in all the puddles on your block wearing a nice pair of wellingtons?

Check it out: Would You Rather? Game in ESL classes (Worksheet)

Name five

  1. Things to do with a pumpkin (carve, cut, throw, cook).
  2. Clothes to wear on a chilly day (a scarf, boots, a woolen hat, a raincoat, a coat, a suit).
  3. Places in the city where to hide if you get caught in the rain (a cafe, a bus stop, a roof, a shop, a tree).
  4. Rainy adjectives (words used to describe wet weather).
  5. Veggies and fruits people harvest or plant in autumn (tomatoes, beets, carrots, radishes, pumpkins).
  6. Colours associated with autumn (yellow, brown, red, amber, golden, crimson).

Your five senses of autumn. Sound: crunchy leaves, wind blowing; smell: crispy air, scent of leaves; sight: leaves changing, squirrels hiding nuts; taste: pumpkin, hot chocolate; touch and texture: a cool breeze blowing against your face, cozy sweater.

More ideas: Five Senses in Fall and The Five Senses of Fall.     

If You Could

  1. Eliminate one autumn tradition, which one would you get rid of?
  2. Extend one season for the whole year, which season would you choose?
  3. Spend this October in any country of the world, where would you go and why? (You might continue with checking the weather there and discussing what your student would do there for the whole month).
  4. Change one event from the past that happened in autumn, what would it be and why?

Why Don’t You Tell Me About

  1. Your favourite autumn tradition.
  2. An adventure you would like to take in autumn.
  3. Your favourite drink for a cosy autumn evening.
  4. Why you like — or don’t like — autumn.
  5. Your most cherished autumn memory.

Check it out: Idioms for Autumn — Test

Fun with Fall 

As defined by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, when does autumn begin?

Autumn begins on the equinox, which falls on 22 or 23 September. However, to record climate data, it is important to have set dates that can be compared, so meteorological autumn always begins on 1 September (from 8 interesting facts about autumn).

What happens to trees in autumn?

As the days shorten throughout autumn, the trees begin to close down their food production systems and reduce the amount of chlorophyll in their leaves. Chlorophyll is the chemical which makes tree leaves green, and as it declines, other chemicals become more prominent in the leaves and change their colour. Did you know some of these chemicals are the same ones that give carrots (beta-carotenes) and egg yolks (luteins) their colours?

Why is it good to be born in autumn?

A study in the Journal of Aging Research found that babies born during the autumn months are more likely to live to 100 than those born during the rest of the year. Their study found that 30% of US centenarians born during 1880–1895 were born in the autumn months (from Interesting Facts About Autumn).

Is fall an American word for autumn?

Fall was in fact in widespread usage in England until relatively recently.Originally a shortening of the phrase fall of the leaf, the phrase was still common in England in the 17th century. The word autumn entered English from the French automne and didn’t become common usage until the 18th century.

Where and how did Oktoberfest begin?

It originated on October 12, 1810, in Munich, Germany. It all began as a royal wedding and became a yearly tradition afterwards.

What country did Halloween originate from?

Your students might probably think it’s an American holiday, but, actually, it’s not. It first originated some 2,000 years ago in Britain and Ireland, where Celtic people celebrated the end of the harvest and the start of a new year on 1 November. Traditions were to light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

Giving thanks

This topic could be connected to a Thanksgiving holiday, but not necessarily. Anyway, autumn is the season for giving thanks and being grateful.

Ask your student to write down five names of people they know. Now ask them to tell you why they are grateful to each of those people. Encourage your student to call these people and express their gratitude after the lesson.

  1. What are you thankful for in your life? What are the ways we can show our gratitude?
  2. What life experience (good or bad) have you had that you’re grateful for?
  3. What made you laugh or smile recently?
  4. What is one thing you have enjoyed about doing your job recently?
  5. Name three reasons to be grateful for this summer of 2021.

It’s a great idea to discuss questions connected with current events in real life. Your students will feel that their teacher is involved in their learning process here and now. I have had so many great conversations with my students based on these questions. I hope you will like using them too!

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