Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

How to Teach Your Beginner ESL Students About Weather

This article explains how to teach beginning students about weather. It is a common topic but weather conditions and weather words are local. For example, most of my students never saw snow, and are new to terms like sleet, black ice, flurries, wind chill factor, etc.

Start with pictures. Show your students pictures of different types of weather.

Ask the students to describe each picture. Ask them what they like about each picture and what they don't like.

Ask the students to tell you what they would do in each type of weather displayed in each picture. Ask them if these pictures remind them of the weather of their countries.

Introduce weather vocabulary. Say the word, have the students repeat it, and write the word on the board. Ask the students to guess the meaning of the word. If nobody guesses, you may want to read a sentence that uses that word in context.

If students don't get the meaning, you can assign one or two students to look up the word, or have them text message Google for the definition. Since my students love to text message, I teach them how to use text messaging as a research tool. For example, to find the definition for the word hazy, they text message (ignore the quotes) "define hazy" to 466453. Google will text message the definition.

Have the student use the new vocabulary in a variety of ways. Partner students in groups of two and have them write a short dialog using some of the new vocabulary. Then, have each group of students come to the front of the class and read their dialogs. Ask the students to make any corrections. Have the students name activities they would do in the weather described by each word.

Give students a handout with a paragraph that tells a story using the vocabulary. Have the students read it out loud.

Optionally, if dictation is part of your teaching routine, read that story as dictation for the next class. The students can't look at the handout. However, since they read it during the previous class, it will help them become more familiar with the story.

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