Teaching EFL students subjects other than English, in English, can sometimes be a challenge. Unlike ESL (English as a Second Language) students who hear English all day because they live in an English speaking country, EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students do not. Most of the time, the only English they hear is either with teachers of their own nationality, who often pronounce things incorrectly, or native English speaking teachers.
This however is usually only two to three hours a week. Not enough time to tune their ear to the sound, or to be able to practice speaking English themselves. So when it comes to taking classes like Health, Science, or Geography in English, they are often pretty lost.
I used to teach English as a Foreign Language in Thailand, and spent years struggling with lesson plans, because the main two problems are usually these.
Either the language level is appropriate but the subject mature is too childish, or the subject mature is appropriate and fun but the English language used is too difficult. I have taught EFL students English, Geography and Health. Over the last few years I have come up with several lesson plans that really work.
Here is one that works great for Health class:
Expected Learning Outcome: Students will be able to understand what a healthy lifestyle is and what they should do so that they have a healthy lifestyle.
Materials/resources: Whiteboard markers, paper, handout
Teaching Procedure/Methods: Ask what the class knows about healthy lifestyles. What is a healthy lifestyle? How many times a week should you exercise? What foods should you eat? What foods should you not eat? Can you smoke or drink alcohol if you want a healthy lifestyle? Write their answers down on the board in 2 columns – Unhealthy and Healthy choices.
Then put the students into pairs, and gives each pair a survey form (write a short survey with questions such as Do You Smoke? How Many Alcoholic Drinks Do You Have Every Week? etc). Assign each pair either one or two teachers to survey.
Related: A Free EFL lesson plan for a conversation class on money and shopping
When I did it, I assigned one Thai teacher and one Western teacher per student pair, but you can just as easily assign only one teacher. The students then have 15 minutes to find the teachers and ask them the survey questions (clear this first with the teachers they are going to ask and find out where they will be so the students can find them).
While the students are questioning the teachers, you should draw a chart on the board with the Name of the Teacher, the Question Number, and a choice of either Healthy or Unhealthy for the answer.
Students then come back to the class and post their results for each question on the whiteboard. I always split them up into Thai teachers and Western teachers but you can do it either this way, or with just one category for teachers.
Once all the students are back and the answers are posted on the board, I spend 5 minutes going over the answers. Much laughter usually ensues as the students find out which teachers smoke, drink, or eat too much fast food.
At the end using what they’ve learned about healthy choices, the students vote to decide which teacher is the “Healthiest Teacher”. I always give the students who interviewed the ‘Healthiest Teacher’ a piece of fruit to present to the teacher as a prize.
Evaluation/Assessment: 1. participation in class, 2. students’ understanding in class, 3. behaviour and attention in class, 4. how they work in pair work as a ‘team member’.
This is a really fun project for EFL students of different levels as you can make the questions simplistic so they can understand them or more difficult for the ones at a higher level. They will all learn new vocabulary but still have some fun.
Of course, this lesson plan can also be used as an ESL lesson plan.
If you are struggling for free lesson plans to use to teach in Thailand or anywhere else, here are others that may help.