Looking back over my teaching career, I feel like the most successful experiences have been those in which friendship and fun were present in every lesson.  These two elements are essential for developing the kind of healthy classroom environment which supports the learning process.  In this post you’ll find some ideas that you can use to create positive relationships between the students in your Young Learner classes.

Before I get started, take a look at these quotes which have come from real Young Learner teachers.  Do any of these situations sound familiar?  What do you think the consequences of these problems are?

While these situations may appear to be quite different from each other, they would all benefit from better student-student relationships.  As a solution to any or all of these problems above, I would encourage teachers to being integrating activities into their lessons which have the aim of ‘forming the group’ and creating a sense of community between the learners.  I first heard of ‘group formation’ in this book by David Vale.

If you’ve read the quote from David Vale on the right, you can probably already guess the characteristics that make group formation games different from the ice-breakers you might use at the start of a course or games you use in a regular class.  Here are the guidelines that I use when selecting an appropriate activity:

Does is require the group to work cooperatively?  Do they need to somehow act together?  Do the need to support each other to play the game or complete the task successfully?  Do they make physical contact with each other in a gentle way?  Do they need to lend and receive trust? Does is create highly enjoyable and non-competitive situations?

To get an even better idea of what this looks like, you might like to download some of my favourite group formation games.  I’ve been using them for so long that I can no longer remember where I learned them from.  Some of them are traditional games which have been adapted and others are drama warmers.  Give it a go and let me know how your students respond!