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A ritual is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as "a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony". I believe we would like to swap out "a ceremony" for "an English lesson".

Using rituals as part of the lesson is something that teachers employ for various reasons. The most common reason is that it can get students to focus, and give them the switch that they are about to step into a world of English for the next hour. Rituals come in many shapes and sizes. Here are some examples of types commonly used.

Day/Date/Time/Weather: This is probably what most of us did when starting out our ESL career. Why, the majority of JTs still use it for every single class, so it must be effective somehow... it's a good starting point for rituals, and much more excitement can be built from it.

Songs: More common in younger learners' classes, but some junior high teachers still enjoy starting the classes off with a song, and changing it every month. There are students who may not like English, but they do love western music. Get to know your students better and find out what they are into, then bring it to the class to enjoy. Make sure to have the lyrics printed out for everyone.

Game Of The Month: In a similar vein to having a different song every month, decide on a game, and only one game to use at the start of each lesson. Variations and rules should not change as that would defeat the purpose of keeping rituals short and simple.

5-Minute Games: Janken, Simon Says, Line Game, Find X People... there are a plethora of mini games that can be used for reviewing the previous lessons' content, or even just for fun and getting everyone into English mode. Try out various games and see which works best for each class. You can also make these into monthly games.

Today's Theme: Come up with a theme, for example 'summer'. Have teams and see how many words they can come up with associated with the theme. This activity is great for times of seasonal changes, and around national holidays. However, even simple themes such as 'green', 'ice cream flavours', 'drinks', will work.

Show And Tell: This one is for higher level students. At the start of every lesson, a student will do a one or two minute show and tell about an interesting item they own. They can bring it to class if permitted, or they can show/draw a picture of it. Teacher and other students will ask five questions about the item, and the presenter must answer. How to select presenters each time - name/number out of the hat, and they can have until the next class to prepare.

The new term is a good chance to try out a new ritual. It does not matter if you are at the same or different school as last term. Try and come up with new and exciting rituals to get the class focused before starting the main lesson. Why not make it a goal to come up with a new ritual every month until the end of the school year? You'll be surprised at what you can pull out of nowhere.

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