Weekend Plans: Alternatives to Traditional Exercises

The next time you send your students home for the weekend, consider one of the following ideas as an addition to or substitution for the usual type of assignments (such as “Complete workbook exercise 3.”)

  • Budget Buster. Ask your students to note down the amounts they spend in each place over the weekend. On Monday morning, have volunteers read out the amounts. This is good for basic level students who need to review numbers. You can have them total all expenses to practice reading larger sums. Next, have students pair up and compare what they spent. Partners can recall what they bought by looking at the amounts they spent. With upper level students, you can then challenge them to identify things they didn’t have to buy or shouldn’t have bought. They can explain to their partners why they bought what they didn’t need. For fun, ask them to subtract the amount of what they didn’t have to spend from what they actually did. Find out who the biggest or most frivolous spenders are.


  • Word List. Tell your students to make a list of key vocabulary words (perhaps the 2-3 that they got wrong on this week’s quiz) on a small piece of paper. They should carry the list around in their pocket over the weekend and challenge themselves to use the words when possible. For example, a student might write down these words from Chapter 1 of Vocabulary Power 1: generous, feast, occasion.  At dinner time on Friday, the student might be able to compliment his roommate by saying, “Wow! This is a generous feast.” Or seeing a friend dressed very nicely on Saturday evening, the student might remark, “You look great. What’s the occasion?”


  • Third Time’s a Charm. This is similar to the previous one, but it involves whole expressions. Teach 1-2 conversational expressions. Challenge students to use it no fewer than three times. Ideal for ESL, where colloquial expressions can be used on the street or in other common settings. Suggestions: Do you have the time? / Have a good one! / No problem. / My pleasure.

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