5 Ideas for Getting your English Wall Noticed

Part of the problem of designing a great English wall seems to be breaking through all the noise. Students are inundated with information from posters lining the walls of the schools. So we ALTs have to figure out ways to attract students to the location. And we got to figure out how to stand out. Here are some of my ideas.

1) Use a Rubik’s Cube to Draw Students In

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There is something magical about Rubik’s Cubes that force people to pick them up and try to solve them. If the students notice the Rubik’s Cube then the are more likely to notice the other content you have diligently prepared. I think other games/puzzles will work well too.

2) Post Memo Pads and Pens

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Memo pads and pens give students something to do while at the English wall.  Even if the content is old, they can still write a new message. Since attracting attention is about being out-of-the-ordinary, I like to post memo pads like this one shaped like an apple.

3) Make Packets that Will Flutter

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In addition to being helpful for conveying more information about something, these packets will flutter as students walk by, catching their attention and making them more likely to notice the wall.

4) Get Personal

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It’s really no secret that stuff about you or other teachers on display is some fascination to students. A friend of mine likes to post information about other ALTs in the city (with their permission, of course). Along those same lines, I’m thinking it might be fun to try to introduce all the teachers in the staff room like this.

5) Use Recurring Sections

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Just like a newspaper column, sections on your board that you update periodically will get your students coming back for more. “Jobs that Use English” is one section I’m trying out new this year.

Conclusion

I remember putting hours of time and effort into my first English wall displays only to find that barely any students were checking out what I had put up. It was through this discouragement that I realized that, like anything else, we got to make our material stand out if people are going to take notice. So I hope these ideas are helpful to you if you are having any similar problems.

Surely there are other great ideas out their for attracting and keeping an audience of students, so please post your ideas in the comments section.

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It’s not much, but here’s an example of my full English wall display.

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7 Comments

  1. I laughed when I saw the Rubix cube. What a great idea! I never thought of making a tray for the wall that students could pick something off of! :D I really like the “Jobs that Use English” section, too. It’s an inherently interesting subject…at least, it would be to me if I was being told “English is important” all the time. I like that the “free-write” sections are themed, too, because mine aren’t and I’m noticing a strong trend toward K-pop and One Direction (the celebrity birthday section probably lent itself to that…)

    I posted about it before, but even though it has been taking a long time, I like to make big, colorful or interesting borders around my wall. I feel like other bulletin boards at the school don’t have that, and it’s really impossible to notice a big paper chain, or a string of shamrocks or cherry blossoms. In an attempt to be “relevant,” I wanted to put up pictures of my middle school back home, but I didn’t have any and couldn’t locate any…until I realized that I could screenshot Google maps and get a pretty good view around the school, and show how it’s only one story and the grounds are mostly lawn. I’m hoping my students will like it!

    • Thank you! I thought of you and your awe-inspiring English wall when I made this post.

      (here’s a link for anyone who’s interested):
      http://sutekisutekisuteki.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/valentines-day-bulletin-board/

      I can see from this display what you mean by adding the colorful border. Not only does it attract attention to your space, but it’s beautiful as well. :) The fact that it is handmade is even more impressive.

      I’m thinking about how to make the English wall more interactive for students. Other than free-write spaces or letter writing, do you have any ideas you’ve been kicking around?

      Polls? Or something that incites a little controversy (e.g. Baseball is better than soccer!!)? I don’t know… I haven’t figured it out yet…

      • After seeing this post, I’ve been trying to think more about how to make my own boards interactive, too. One thing I thought of was maybe having a large picture of some type of food, like a taco, and asking students to guess the five ingredients in it (hidden under a flap).

        Maybe you could print out a picture of a celebrity they’re guaranteed to know, and have a speech bubble by his/her head that says “Talk to (name)!”, and then another speech bubble where you write something from yourself, and see what students write there. Like your “Write a message to ALT” section, just with celebrities. The celebrity could even ask a question, although I’m not sure what they would ask.

        In the Hi Friends book, there’s a section where they have a small section of a picture and you have to guess what it is (like, a corner of a banana, but when that’s all you see it’s hard to tell what it is). Maybe you could pick some sort of thing that’s unique to your hometown, and ask “what is it?” and have the answer under a flap. I like the flaps idea a lot–that way if they’re even a little bit curious, they have to go up to it and see what’s there, haha.

        I keep having the thought that it would be funny to have something you can press for sound–like those singing birthday cards you can buy at Wal-Mart, or those children’s books where you press a button on the right side of the book and a song starts playing or a word is said. I’m not sure if that would annoy my teachers or not, hahaha, but one month should be okay.

        I was also thinking about word puzzles–like, there’s an email forward or something that was going around a long time ago that said “say the color not the word” (like here: http://www.coolopticalillusions.com/optical_illusions_images_2/images/readthecolors.gif) that was hard, but fun to try. The “Can you read this?” forward (http://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/can-you-read) is too hard and would probably just confuse everyone, but I’m thinking along those lines, interesting English puzzles. Maybe you even could use the “can you read this” puzzle, if you just took a few sentences out of the textbook and changed the order of the letters. I’m a little afraid to try that and fail, though, haha.

        • Wow! These are really great ideas! I especially like the guessing game with the ingredients to the food, guessing the picture and the sound off board. I think that sound is another barrier we can break to attract attention, because no other poster board comes even close. I remember they used to sell something called a “yak back”, which was a cheap voice recorder. Your idea made me think of it. Putting the cheap voice recorder on the wall could bring students to the wall and either get them to answer a question you ask or just see what their English voice sounds like. I don’t know where I can get my hands on one these days, but I think it would be fun to try that or your idea as well.

          I think you hit the nail on the head, too, with the say the color not the word. Activities like that, even, though a little advanced, allow them to experience the language in a whole different context. And perhaps it can blow some of their minds — the ones that get it at least.

          I apologize for the long delay in my response. I took a vacation for the golden week holidays and didn’t get back until yesterday.

          Thank you always for your comments on my posts. You help take my ideas further with your thoughtful answers and ideas!

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