Warming Up: Your Mouths / Warming Up: Your Minds

santolina-chamaecyparissus

I’ve combined these two themes mainly because they are pretty simple, each of them, to discuss. In addition, I believe that they should be related and not individual activities. Let me explain.

Warming up your mouths

This is basic vocal warm-up activity. As you as the teacher will be using your voice throughout the class, you should take care of your working tool and warm up the vocal chords, loosen up the lips and tongue. As your students will be coming in off the street, probably chatting away in their native language, they’ll need to do some warm up and strengthening of those muscles and articulations that will be needed in the class.

I don’t need to go into specific vocal warm ups here. Anyone can do their own Google search and find videos and explanations of warm ups that any singer or actor or public speaker would be familiar with. In addition, warm ups can involve song for those teachers with guitar fingers.

Warming up your minds

This is the presentation of the material that will be covered, perhaps explained and mostly practiced during this particular class period. Here’s where I’m going to combine mind warm up with mouth warm up with a pretty clear example.

Today, for example, the practice will be centered upon constructing, pronouncing and using the present continuous. Consequently I will want the vocal warm up to somehow prepare the students for this activity. I’ve chosen Susan Vega’s song “Tom’s Diner”.

During the vocal warm up, we’ll listen to the song, maybe do a cloze exercise of part of it, sing along, maybe do an acapella version of our own. We will have warmed up our voices using sounds and structures that we’ll hear about in the class preparation and will later have to use in our practice session.

Tie everything together

What I am suggesting is that you identify your mind theme, what you want your students to think about, and tie that theme into the earlier parts of the class structure. Naturally, the theme will be present in the later parts (the practice and presentation of the theme, as well as the homework); it is sometimes overlooked that a pre-warmer that presents the theme through the back door, without explanation, makes the material recognizable when it’s presented through the wide-open front door.

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