ESL Teachers Ask: How Do I Give an Open Lesson with Parents?

ESL Teachers Ask: How Do I Give an Open Lesson with Parents?

“I teach a group of 8 to 10-year-old beginners. The language school where I teach recently informed me I’d have to host a 40-minute open lesson with parents. I’ve never done this before – any pointers?” *

Language schools often host open lessons, typically mid-term and at the end of the year.

Parents are invited to participate, and the goal is to show them the kinds of activities we do in class, but it’s also a great opportunity for them to see just how much their young ones have learned. Parents often see kids doing homework and completing exercises, but they don’t usually get the chance to see them interacting with other kids in English. If you’ve never hosted an open lesson before you might be a little apprehensive — we’re dealing with parents after all. There’s always the option of doing some activities with the kids and letting the parents simply watch. But I always recommend including them. There are ways to get them to participate in some fun activities — even if they don’t speak any English at all!

Apply These Ideas for an Open Lesson with Parents

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    The Team Approach

    The easiest way to get parents to participate in an open lesson is to have them team up with their child. If the parent doesn’t speak English, the child can help him/her. Personally, I have found that this is a great opportunity for parent and child to bond. The children are often quite proud of what they’ve learned, and they’re happy to show off for their parents.

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    Go for Tried and Tested

    Now is not the time to teach anything new. Parents don’t really want to see you teach; they don’t want to hear you talk. They want to see what their kids can do in English. They’re the stars! I’ve found that the best open lessons are a showcase of your most successful activities. Pick tasks or games your students excel at. Have them sing a song they know well. Play a game they love and are great at. The kids will have a whole class packed with their favorite activities, and this will keep them happy and engaged. Which means the parents will be, too.

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    Keep It Varied

    I don’t recommend playing only games for the duration of the open lesson. It will give parents the idea that all you do is play games. Try to include different types of activities: a song, a game, a short writing task, a listening exercise, a TPR activity, an art project, etc…This way, you’ll give parents an overview of the different things you do in class.

Check out These Activities for Open Lessons

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    Some great games for kids and parents to play in teams are Bingo, Go Fish, Memory/Matching games, and any other game that students usually play on their own or in teams of two. Charades is a super fun game to play with parents, but because they might not speak English, I recommend giving them an illustration with a word or action to act out and having the child guess.

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    Sing a song that your students know well. Print the lyrics so the parents can follow along.

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    You may choose to give each student-parent team a project to complete. Parents then will also have a souvenir to take home! Collages with magazine cutouts are easy activities for even the most artistically-challenged parents. Start by having the class talk about some of their favorite things: sports, TV shows, games, toys, foods, drinks, desserts, etc… Then, students work with their parents to cut out some of these favorite things from magazines. Together they create a collage, which they will later show to the class. And this is just one example. You can create collages with parts of the body, parts of the house, animals, etc...

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    Total Physical Response

    Provided that parents are not too shy, and you have enough room to move, you can have them join the class for a game of Simon Says or a song like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

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    Print out copies of the Four in a Row worksheet and cut them up into cards. Students work with their parents to find groups of four words that sound the same.

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    Naturally, you’re not going to want to have your students quietly writing while their parents watch. A great way to have your students do some writing while keeping their parents engaged at the same time is through a drawing/writing project. Parents can draw two characters having a conversation while the students fill in the speech bubbles. Or have the parents draw one character and the students write a short description.

Unfortunately, not every parent can make it to the open lesson. Make sure the students whose parents have not come are not left out. You can pair them up or have them form their own team.

Parents want nothing better than to see that the money they’re investing in their children’s education is well spent.

This is why the goal of the open lesson is for the kids to show off what they’ve learned. Be sure to choose activities that are not only fun to watch, but also allow your students to do just that.

* This question was sent in from a real ESL teacher, just like you! If you need any advice on a particular topic, share your question in the comments below. Or tweet your question to @busyteacher_org with the hashtag #ESLTeachersAsk. Your question might get picked and featured in an article!

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