Lessons about hobbies are some of the most common lessons that I’ve taught. Through learning about a student’s hobbies, I learn more about my student’s likes and dislikes, their free-time activities, and the things that they really care about. It’s this connection that makes teaching English such a rewarding and engaging job.
However, the longer that I’ve taught English, the more I’ve realised how much my students also love learning about me and how I can utilise my own hobbies to create a fun and engaging class. Below is a lesson structure I love, that uses my hobbies in the English teaching process:
- I would start a class by asking my student what a hobby is and hopefully getting the answer that it is an activity that one enjoys doing in their free time. It is good to ask questions around this “Can you get paid for a hobby?” for example, to make sure that they fully understand that it is a free-time activity. Depending on the student’s level it may be good to talk about the different ways we ask about hobbies, as the word itself is not used so commonly in English. We often ask “What do you do for fun?” or “What do you do in your free time?” instead.
- I would then put up a slide called “My Hobbies” and tell the student that I would like them to guess what each of my hobbies are. I start with ‘running’ as it is a word that most students know, unless they are complete beginners. It also gives me the opportunity to use funny pictures that will entertain my student. For example, I might put the first photo of my face looking red and hot (which often gets a laugh) and could ask the question “How am I feeling here?” and “Why am I feeling like this?” Hopefully the student will gather that in the photo I am doing exercise and I can show them further photos which will help them realise that the exercise is running. It is also a good opportunity to elicit different vocabulary depending on their level. A lower-level learner might know the word ‘shoes’, but a higher-level learner may use ‘trainers’.
- This is also a good time to discuss other equipment and actions that are related to my hobby. I could show the outdoors or a treadmill, running clothes and use this to facilitate a conversation with my student. It provides the student with vocabulary around something they may also enjoy doing and reinforces words that they already know. I encourage my student to ask questions about my hobby in order to best reflect a real-world situation.
- I repeat this process another three or so times, adapting the hobby depending on the learner. For example, I love both reading and cooking. If I know one of my students also loves cooking, talking about this hobby will help reinforce the language for them and also hopefully facilitate a good discussion which will inspire the learner.
- Finally, I would ask my student to think of one of their hobbies and also present it picture by picture and I will guess. If my student is younger, I may also invite them to draw a picture (although this could be dangerous if you can’t recognise the drawing, beware!). Once again, we would talk through the actions and equipment needed for the hobby, and I would ask my students questions about it. This lesson plan can be easily adapted for learners of different ages, abilities, and class sizes, which is part of the reason that I love it. I think the most important thing in any lesson is to be flexible and know your audience. However, a huge part of maintaining commitment to learning a language is having fun and being passionate about a topic – and typically people love to talk about what they love. What do you think? I would love to hear any other ideas for teaching English using your hobbies in the comments below.