New Year’s resolutions + needs analysis

new year's resolutions

Happy new year! I hope you’ve had a good break. I know I have! Have you made any new year’s resolutions? I’ve vaguely made some, one of which is to spend a bit less time attached to my laptop, so I will be aiming to post weekly rather than daily from now on! Having said that, please do let me know if there’s an activity you’d like me to write about.

I wanted to start my teen and adult exam (FCE and CPE) classes by talking about new year’s resolutions and to lead that into a needs analysis to get the students thinking actively about what they can do about their own learning in 2014.

New Year’s Resolutions

Teaching English – British Council had very conveniently posted this lesson plan by Helen Hadkins on their facebook page, and I decided it would be perfect.  There’s no need for me to detail the lesson plan here so I’ll just say how I adapted it for my classes.

When I told the students my own new year’s resolutions at the start of the class, I put one of them in the future perfect to stretch my FCE students:

  • This year I’m going to spend some time improving my Spanish.
  • This year I’m going to do exercise 5 days a week.
  • By the end of the academic year, I’m going to have read all the books I brought to Spain with me.

I really liked Helen’s activity of guessing which were the 7 most popular resolutions made in Britain last year. To extend it a bit and allow the students to practise language of speculation and agreeing/disagreeing, my colleague, Amy B, suggested that before giving the students the list of resolutions, we give them pictures which represent the resolutions. The students then had 3 minutes to discuss what they thought they were. As feedback, I gave them the list of resolutions in a wordcloud:


They then had 3 minutes to guess the top 7. When I read out the answers, I gave each pair 1 point if they had included the activity in their list of top resolutions, and another point if it occupied the same position in their list. No-one got more than 3 points – they were very surprised, especially by the “take better photos” one.

After they had written their own new year’s resolutions (following my examples) and discussed with their partner how they were going to fulfill them, I asked them all to follow me in copying their resolution for doing something by the end of the course on to a piece of paper, which we have pinned up on the wall. We’ll be able to see how we’ve done later this year.

Needs Analysis

Some of the students said they resolved to study more English this year, or pass their Cambridge exams, and I thought this was an ideal time to ask them to think about the way we study. A few years ago, a colleague of mine (Helen Chapman) shared this simple but useful activity with us.

Ask each student to divide a piece of paper into quarters. Each section is given a title:

  1. Activities I enjoy/find useful in class
  2. What I would like to do more of in class
  3. What I can do to improve my English
  4. What my teacher can do to help me improve my English

And then they filled it in. I collected them and will take notes before giving them back, so they can remember what they said they could do. I have done this activity at the end of the course before, but I thought it would be useful at this stage of the year to focus the students, to give them an opportunity to think about what they want from their class and to tell their teacher, and generally to be more actively involved in their own learning.

I hope you find this useful. If you have any other ideas about doing needs analysis with your students, I’d love to hear them!

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