Weather is a common topic in American conversation, often used to break the ice with co-workers, classmates or strangers. And it’s important to understand what meteorologists or reporters are talking about when they relay news about inclement weather on the television or radio. So, incorporating a weather lesson into a class for students of English as a second language is a good idea. There are simple, engaging and effective ways in which you can teach your beginner ESL students about the weather.
Introduce basic weather vocabulary using flashcards. Show the cards to the class, and describe the weather using terms such as sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy and snowy, modeling correct English and writing the words on a board. Go through each one multiple times so the students may strengthen their connections between the images and the respective English words.
Show the students the flashcards again, this time asking them to say the corresponding English words aloud.
Describe each flashcard in more detail, using additional terms, including sun, wind, rain and snow, for example, to tie the new terms to the original ones.
Explain how the terms relate to the four seasons of the year, perhaps placing a season chart or drawing on the board or wall and holding up the different flashcards to the appropriate seasons.
Give examples of what people typically do during certain types of weather. For example, people may plant a garden during the spring, swim during the summer or rake leaves during the fall. Use imagery and vocabulary previously introduced, enabling students to identify patterns and connections between the old and new material.
Go over temperature-related vocabulary using a drawing of a thermometer. Show them the numbers of the thermometer, and teach them how to say whatever temperature you point to on the image.
Divide the flashcards between the students, and have them practice what they have learned with one another in small groups or pairs.
Collect the flashcards and engage the class in a discussion about weather. Ask questions such as “How is the weather today?” or “During what season does it usually snow?”
Test their knowledge and memory by giving a short quiz on the vocabulary. Ask them, for example, to match an English word to a graphic, write the appropriate English word next to the graphic or do both.
- BusyTeacher: How to Teach Weather
- Science for English Language Learners: K-12 Classroom Strategies; John E. Penick and Robin Lee Harris
Angela De Schrijver holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and communication technology. She has written for companies within a variety of industries, including information technology, law, nonprofit, insurance and financial services.