We often use warm ups in class, whether you are teaching elementary, junior high or high school. A bad warm up can set a mood that's hard to shake but an effective warm up that follows these three main points will set you up for a successful class that leaves students looking forward to their next English lesson.

Why use warm ups?

  1. Get into English Mode
    When dealing with a second language you aren't using often, it can take some time to get into that language mode.
    You may know what I'm talking about from personal experience. A warm up gives students a transition from not using English (everyday life) to hopefully using English (during English class). The trick is keep the English easy for those students - remember, it's a transition (not the lesson).
  2. Review
    The English should be easy and therefor it should be something they already know. But, to keep your students progressing, keep it current. If the answer is "I like ~." every time, that's all your students will be able to say. Like a physical warm up, it should get the heart rate up, but not break a sweat yet.
    As a teacher, stay on top of their lessons so your warm up can review recent, current content.
  3. Relax
    Ever noticed that after a beer, wine or whiskey, new language fluency increases? Me too. While you can't serve students alcohol to lower mental communication barriers, you can at least get them laughing (or at the very least, making noise).
    With communication blockers like fear or nervousness removed, you greatly increase the chance of a successful class.

Another point to keep in mind is that a lot of the students' time from junior high on is spent on book work and your junior high warm up may be the only time they get to communicate verbally in English (not including rote recitation). 

A good warm up doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, if it's too hard, you'll likely shake your students' confidence and leave them not wanting to participate in your class. Boost them with slightly challenging English but that you know they can handle and they will be ready to take on the next step in class.

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