Sample Lesson Plans and Teaching Ideas

Sample Lesson Plans and Materials

Teaching Ideas

This section is organized very roughly from more general “classroom management” ideas to more specific activity and content ideas.

  • Have students fill out index cards with some personal info (e.g. their name, hometown, hobbies/interests, why they are studying German, their goals for the class, and whether/when they’ve been to D/A/CH before). Use these e.g. every other day to randomize calling on students, or to form groups; a bonus is that the cards “take attendance for you.”
  • No answer to a simple question posed to the class as a whole: Rather than providing the response yourself, or struggling to elicit an answer, try “OK, 10/20/30 Sekunden mit PartnerIn.” Students will typically have lots to say to each other, and will be able to respond when the time is up. If not, the question may have been harder than expected, and it will be worthwhile to provide an explanation.
  • Inner and outer circles for efficiently varying partners (“speed-dating”) and keeping students talking for a longer period of time; every few minutes, one of the circles (whichever one was more convenient to find a seat in) moves e.g. counterclockwise. Parallel lines of chairs can also work. Possible activities:
    • Students tell their (new) partners about a topic they’ve researched, a video they watched, something they chose to read, or e.g. favorite foods, their morning routine, or what they did this weekend. Students get really good at discussing “their” topic, AND hear from lots of other students.
    • The inside asks questions, and the outside answers.
    • Both circles move in opposite directions and improvise a role play or discuss a topic based on a prompt attached to their current location (e.g. in der Apotheke, auf der Bank…)
  • “5 Minuten schreien”: Pair each student up with a partner sitting at least 3 chairs away. Assign a simple, low-stakes speaking prompt (Simple questions on an overhead, or routine prompts like “5 Minuten sprechen” [about anything], “Was hast du heute gemacht?” or “Was machst du am Wochenende?” Students stay in their seats, and so have to speak loudly/confidently enough to be heard by their partner. Great for energizing a tired group, and building confidence in speaking.
  • “5 Minuten schreiben” (i.e. “free-writing”) to get discussions going and practice writing. No need to collect/grade this ==> students will feel freer to “just write”
  • Ideas for the end of class:
    • Give students 1 minute to tell their partner 2 things they learned in today’s class.
    • Review any vocabulary/phrases you wrote on the board during class: for each word/phrase, have the class tell you its meaning, then erase it.
  • Use the projector to model online dictionary use in class: show students how YOU find words!
  • Reading corrected paragraphs to a partner: If you’ve corrected something students have written, have them read it aloud to a partner, and then discuss one thing they learned from the corrections. This allows students to process your feedback. For longer essays, students can just read a paragraph.
    • In providing written feedback, less is more: Choose just two or three things to correct – whatever will be most useful and feels within the student’s reach to correct. [If this is being discussed at a workshop: PartnerInnen: How do you go about this – What works best for you?]
  • Informal in-class role plays: Once students are done, have each pair/group perform for another pair/group, and ideally for yet another pair/group after that. This way, each group performs their role play at least once. No problem if they’re not finished. If you hear something great, it can be performed for the whole class. Establishing this pattern will also motivate students for future role play tasks.
  • Vocabulary games:
    • Quizlet live:
    • “Back-to-Back” game: Students stand back-to-back, so only one of them can see the board. Write 10-20 vocab words on the board. Students can start to play when you start writing. The student who sees the board gives their partner clues for the word. When the partner guesses the word, they move on to the next one. Let students refer to the vocab list so they don’t get stuck on unknown words, and learn while they play. After a couple of minutes, have students rotate, so the other partner sees the board. Encourage students to “cheat” by listening to what other pairs are saying! Alternative format: The student who sees the word forms a sentence with the word; student 2 has to translate the sentence. Student 1 & 2 help each other as needed. 
    • Around the World / Um die Welt:
      • Have students help you set up the chairs in a big circle (or anything that will allow a student to go systematically around the room)
      • Find a volunteer to start. S/he stands behind the chair of the student to his/her left. You write a word on the board. The standing student and the student s/he is standing behind compete to be the first to say the translation of the word.
      • If the standing students wins, s/he moves one chair to the left, again standing behind another student; otherwise the sitting student stands up and moves one chair to the left, and the standing student sits down in the sitting student’s chair. Then you repeat the same procedure with the next word.
      • The goal is for one student to make it all the way around the room (the “world”), or, failing that, for someone to be the student who got to “go” the farthest.
      • If both students are equally fast, give them another word.
      • If neither student knows the word, you can open it up to the class to guess; the first student to say the word takes the standing student’s place (moving one spot to the left), and the standing student takes this “winner’s” chair. If no one knows the word, the current pair plays another round.
      • Adapt the rules as you see fit 🙂
  • Laufdiktat: Choose a short, relevant passage. Stick several copies of the text on the walls of your classroom, and form teams of 3-5. One student is the “writer”; the rest take turns running to the text on the wall, memorizing as much as possible, then coming back and dictating it to the “writer.” No limit on the number of trips. When one team is finished, project the text and let students compare their work to the “answer.” Distribute the copies of the text to try to prevent collisions or “traffic jams.”
  • Dictogloss: Choose a short, relevant passage. Read it aloud twice at a normal pace. Instruct students to take notes strategically; tell them they will then work in groups to try to reconstruct the text as best they can. Students get a lot out of this intense interaction with the language and content of the text. This activity may be more successful and more enjoyable once students have done it a few times.
  • Pronunciation: Emphasize comprehensibility over “native-like-ness”; work at the sentence or paragraph level, not just at the word level.
    • Exception: Konsonantisches und vokalisiertes R (Here is an R-overhead for more advanced students that could be adapted for beginners): This is fun to work on, and especially the vokalisiertes R addresses some of the most noticeable “Americanisms” 🙂
    • When a tricky sentence/word/sound trips up a student, have the whole class repeat it a couple of times (if there’s time). This lets the student know that this is not just her/his problem.
    • Rather than having students read texts, instructions, questions etc. for the class as a whole, have students take turns reading these for a partner, ideally after you provide a model. This allows everyone to practice, and allows you to walk around and provide feedback. Try the “read and look up” idea: students read what they are going to say, then look up from the page and say it to their partner.
    • Word-level activity practicing listening for sound differences that affect meaning: Aussprache-Bingo
  • Wer wird Millionär Find and play through a game with good questions before class (a few questions may not be appropriate for all classrooms): Bibliothek > Frühere Sendungen, and/or play with the Auswahlfragentrainer (via Trainieren)