I once had a colleague who on Mondays liked to ask his students if they used any English over the weekend. Despite being in an English-speaking country, a high number of students responded in the negative. It seems that outside of homework, some students fail to take initiative in their language studies. With so many opportunities around them, perhaps what is needed is guidance. One way to encourage independent learning is to make specific suggestions. As part of the end-of-the-week lesson, consider a ritual of asking what students plan to do over the weekend. Direct conversation toward what can be done to use English. At the risk of promoting informal, nonstandard English, you can call this ritual Weekend Wanna-Dos. That’s right. Instead of a To-Do list that sounds burdensome, help students find ways they want to practice their English. They can brainstorm in pairs or small groups, but ultimately have them share their ideas with you. List their plans on the board.
- I want to watch a DVD in English this weekend.
- On Saturday I want to go shopping for a new cell phone, and I’ll talk to a salesperson about different models.
- Tonight I want to watch a few music videos in English on YouTube.
- I want to write in my journal in English this weekend.
- I want to send e-mail to my Canadian friend.
- I want to talk to my landlord about the kitchen sink because it doesn’t work well.