‘Fun’ in the Classroom


I suck at incorporating ‘fun’ in my activities. In fact, I do not even understand why they have to be ‘fun’.
I remember when I was talking my CELTA one of my tutors told me that I could try making my tasks more ‘fun’. For example, ask students to match the headings with paragraphs by asking them to walk around the classroom and finding these on the walls. It is more ‘fun’ than just doing it while being seated, right? I felt quite sceptical about it. I thought to myself (and I still do): “But is not learning new words and grammar and simply communicating in English, even though it is not perfect, already exciting enough?”
Going back to the tweet (I love it!) at the beginning of my post, you can indeed simply ask your students to choose a number rather than wasting toilet paper, can not you?
What I mean by fun is engagement, and engagement is created by a positive atmosphere in the classroom, encouragement, and support. If you give students these three, they will feel more comfortable with communicating in English and attempting difficult or unfamiliar types of tasks.
I hardly have any ‘fun’-containing activities in my lessons. Most of the time, students discuss challenging topics like the problem of the ageing population in Japan or poverty. Dull, huh? However, I keep getting comments from them that our lessons are difficult but fun because they have an opportunity to talk to their classmates in English and learn their opinions on various topics.
That is it. That is what makes lessons fun: communication. Not the pieces of toilet paper or whatever one does to bring more ‘fun’.
Stop re-inventing the wheel. Simplify instead and give students what they came for because if you ask what this is most of them will say ‘to speak English’. And I bet they do not care about all those extra decorations we try to put striving to keep activities ‘fun’.
It is not the decorations but the content and learning outcome that matter.