Are you skeptical about the idea of days of the week activities for adult ESL classes?
Yes, the days of the week are such a simple concept and only seven words. If you’ve ever learned the terms in another language, you’re probably wondering why adult learners even NEED time to study the days of the week, right?
And yet, here’s the thing: I could easily spout off the days of the week in German, Spanish, or Korean but use them in a meaningful way? Nope. I never learned that. They’re just this meaningless little trick I can perform on command, and to be completely forthright, I have to sing them. I can’t even just recite them. *sigh*
So, when I started teaching classes where knowing the days of the week was a listed standard, I had my doubts. (I had similar misgivings about numbers.) I would assign the terms, the students would dutifully memorize them, and BOOM!
Just like that, they had mastered a standard for that level! LIES! I’m rolling my eyes right now just remembering it because the students hadn’t learned anything meaningful. We were meeting a standard, but I didn’t want that to be the only point of what they learned.
Yes, at that foundational level, it wasn’t like we were going to delve into the history of the terms, but I wanted them to have something more than seven words they’d string together in order.
After fruitless internet searches that only turned up cutesy activities for children, I began to develop my own days of the week activities and worksheets. My students voted on what to include or leave out for the most part, and guess what? None of them wanted a song! Here are some tips on how you can make your own days of the week activities! But first…
Do worksheets count as days of the week activities?
In short, yes. But I’ll also tell you about some activities that aren’t so paper-based.
Remember that you are teaching adults who more than likely encountered worksheets in their previous education. Worksheets can be like comfort food. Worksheets are something familiar, something they know what to expect and what will be expected of them. So, give them some worksheets, but make them more appropriate for their age. Refrain from having them color bubble-lettered words. Ignore any worksheets you find that have them tracing the words in super-large letters. Do not pass out the scissors and glue for a Days of the Week sequencing activity. *shudder*
Quick Tips for Making Days of the Week Activities
If you like to DIY, read these tips. Pressed for time? Scroll to the bottom for links to ready-made activities created with adult ESL learners in mind.
Quick Tip: Transform worksheets to be adult-appropriate.
Minus the coloring, those are some good worksheet activities, and with a little adjustment, you can make them appropriate for your adult ESL students. First, think about your students’ languages. Your Spanish speakers won’t get anything out of tracing the letters to spell out the words, but your Arabic, Mandarin, and Korean speakers just might! Just make the size of the dotted letters more appropriate. I liked looking at their natural handwriting and then adjusting the font size to match their handwriting size. Sequencing worksheets could have students taking the mixed-up words from a word box and rewriting them in the correct sequence. Or, they could number a mixed-up list.
You can also make some matching sections on a worksheet for students to match the day to its abbreviation, a section with the letters for each day of the week scrambled for them to put in the correct order for spelling, and how about adding a crossword puzzle? Leave out the word find, though–that’s too much of a stretch.
Quick Tip: Focus more on speaking for days of the week activities.
Let’s start with the days themselves. First, we’ve got our own mess of which day exactly starts our week. Is it Sunday? Or is it Monday? Now, what about where your students are from. Does their week start on Sunday or Monday? Or perhaps Saturday? When is their weekend? Even if you already know, ask them about it. Better yet, create a survey for your students to use when asking students in other classes.
Create some scripted conversations for them to practice so that they are using the days of the week in meaningful ways. Hot tip: Recruit students from one of your more advanced grammar classes to create these conversations. This gives them practice with any specific grammar concept within writing. Double their practice, and then you have genuine conversations to use with your students who are learning the days of the week.
Quick Tip: Insert days of the week activities into grammar classes.
First, add some more vocabulary.
- yesterday, the day before yesterday
- tomorrow, the day after tomorrow
You can use these for quick riddles where a day of the week is the answer.
- What was the day before yesterday?
- Today is Monday. What’s tomorrow?
Or you can use the added vocabulary along with the days of the week to give them a brief exposure to the simple past, simple present, and simple future.
Want more for grammar? Write yes/no questions that include clues for students to use when answering. For example, “Do you have ESL class on Mondays?” You can give this to them on a worksheet or ask it of them during class so that they practice listening and speaking.
Quick Tip: Include reading in days of the week activities.
Create a fake schedule for a fake person. (Or, if you have students who would find it fun, create fake schedules for THEM.) Write up some sentences with blanks for them to fill in using the information in the schedule.
- What do Kawther and Ahmed do on Monday afternoons?
- Do they take their kids to daycare on Saturday morning?
You can add frequency verbs to this as well.
- Who never goes to work on Mondays?
- Does Ha-Kyoung ever go to a meeting on Tuesdays?
Quick Tip: Have students practice the days of the week independently at home.
Have you heard of BOOM cards? I briefly introduce them in BOOM! Digital Resources for Adult ESL. If you are already familiar with them but aren’t sure these digital cards are suitable for adult ESL, you’ll want to read 9 Practical Reasons to Love Using BOOM cards in Adult ESL. There are plenty of BOOM cards for the topic of Days of the Week, but if you want something guaranteed appropriate for adult learners, you’ll want to click here.
I hope that this has inspired you to create resources for teaching your adult ESL students the days of the week. But if inspiration isn’t walking hand in hand with time, take a look at the resources below. ^_^
Resources for teaching the Days of the Week