The Role of Warm-Up Plays in Classes teaching English as a Foreign Language

Term Paper, 2021

13 Pages, Grade: 1,0



Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Role of Warm-ups in EFL-Lessons
2.1 The Warm-up as a Lesson Phase
2.2 The Positive Effects of Warm-Ups
2.3 Important Instructions for the Use of Warm-Ups

3. Conclusion

4. Bibliography

List of Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Effects of using class starters (Barrantes-Elizondo, 2013, p. 8)

Table 1: Reasons for using games - students (Stojkovic & Jerotijevic, 2011, p. 942)

Table 2: Reasons for using games - teachers (Stojkovic & Jerotijevic, 2011, p. 943)

Table 3: Findings regarding what is important about warm-ups (Savas, 2016, p. 74)

1. Introduction

Although warm-ups are essential in classrooms that teach English as a Foreign Language1, they are not extensively discussed in English didactics. One reason for this could be that the knowledge about and the use of these activities are considered self- evident, even for young teachers (Neokleous & Krulatz, 2017, p. 52). It is known that EFL-lessons are complex and demand a structured and detailed planning from the teachers' view due to the fact that learners need to develop diverse competences and an extensive knowledge of the English language. Thus, warm-up-activities can activate different competences on behalf of the students as well as fulfil other functions in a lesson. Thereby, teachers may choose from a wide range of possible methods.

Knowing that warm-ups are supposed to be important in the context of EFL­classrooms, this thesis will analyse its relevance in-depth. By doing so, the main question of this work will be: “Which Role Do Warm-Ups Play in EFL-Lessons?“. Getting to know how and why these activities are crucial for EFL students is surely interesting and beneficial for teachers-to-be as they need to focus on clearly organising their lessons and making their students' learning progress top priority. Despite the fact that there are rarely any studies about warm-ups in classrooms that specifically teach students of grades five to seven, which are both a main subject in the seminar Diagnose und Förderung as well as in the course of studies of this thesis' author, many findings can still be of great interest for these.

In order to find an answer to the main issue of this work, the first step will be to examine the warm-up as an own lesson phase. Secondary, the positive effects of using such a lesson phase will be described, and lastly, important instructions for the use of warm-ups will be given. In the end, the most important aspects of the analysis will be summarised in a conclusion. Furthermore, a short video was designed in addition to this thesis that will provide five concrete methods for warm-up-activities that may be used in class. The topic of the video, therefore, is “Which Methods Can Be Used for Warm-Ups in EFL-Lessons?”.

2. The Role of Warm-ups in EFL-Lessons

2.1 The Warm-up as a Lesson Phase

Current goals relating to teaching mainly imply competences, which describe “complex, mostly situational imbedded and social-life-oriented skills“ (translation mine2 ) and outrun earlier educational objectives, which were defined as “isolated individual skills“ (translation mine3, Thaler, 2012, p. 19). Therefore, the modern understanding of educating and teaching considers the development of specific competences by the students that are determined in the curriculum. Here, the targeted competences are the common ones of reading, writing, listening and speaking (Müller­Hartmann & Schocker-v.Ditfurth, 2014, p. 57). In order to promote these preassigned competences and to implement competence-oriented teaching, teachers need to structure and organise EFL-lessons thoroughly. The ability to plan lessons again is rooted in the standards of teacher training and is subdivided into three partial competences. From this follows that, firstly, teachers have to plan and hold lessons professionally and appropriately considering individual learning requirements and processes of development, secondly, they have to promote their students' learning by creating learning arrangements and enabling as well as motivating them to establish connections between particular topics and to use what they have learned, and lastly, they have to promote their students' abilities for self-determined learning and working (Kultusministerkonferenz, 2019, pp. 7 - 8).

In this context, there are various possibilities for structuring a lesson. A rather traditional concept relating to lesson planning is portrayed by Thaler. It consists of a very short warm-up, potentially a discussion of the students' homework, the main phase with seven possible stages, which represent the core of the lesson, and giving new homework to the class (2012, p. 91). What is important when considering different models of lesson planning is that they reflect guidelines only and teachers do not have to follow them precisely (ibid., p. 93). In fact, lessons need to be planned taking into account e.g. the main learning objective and the requirements of the particular group of students. The introduction appears to be crucial within a lesson, because all the following lesson phases are based on it. That being the case, an important distinction has to be made between the so-called “lead-in” and the “warm-up” (ibid., p. 96), as the latter will be the main issue of this thesis. Whereas lead-ins can be described as thematic introductions, warm-ups represent the openings of a lesson that start with the teacher entering the classroom and which can e.g. be rituals (ibid., p. 96). Hampel and Hauck define warm-ups as tasks that do not require advanced linguistic competences and can have the function to let the students get to know each other better, to reduce possible inhibitions on behalf of the students or to promote teamwork amongst them (2004, p. 71). The QUA-LiS NRW4 goes into detail when describing warm-ups and explains that they make up three to five minutes, they let the students become attuned to the foreign language that is the main focus in the classroom and it also states that the content of these activities may or may not be related to the topic of the lesson (2011, p. 1). Possible methods for this activity can be e.g. singing, short speaking exercises, quizzes or icebreakers and active games, for the reason that they help to get all the students engage in speaking English and get a positive feeling in regard to the upcoming lesson so that they will want to take part in it (ibid., p. 1). Such definitions of the warm-up and its functions in the beginning of a lesson make it seem reasonable to suggest that the activation of students is the main objective of it. Activation can indicate the interaction between learner and teacher and emphasise the importance of the students' autonomy, meaning that he or she has to participate actively in his or her own learning process (Lütge, 2017, p. 1). Moreover, activation can also point to the relationship between learning, language and movement in modern brain and learning research and mean that different methods lead to a greater activity in class (ibid., pp. 1 - 2), what then again can be linked to the listed exemplary warm-up-activities above.

It can be concluded that warm-ups surely play a fundamental role in today's EFL-classrooms. Communicative language activities are currently seen as the focus of teaching and language games, which can be used as warm-ups, aim to motivate, arouse interest and establish a positive approach to learning from the students' perspective (Barrantes-Elizondo, 2013, p. 2). Barrantes-Elizondo considers this as a significant shift in the understanding of teaching which took place in the early 70s, as lessons were now not solely based on grammar anymore, but had their focus on the learner as a builder of his or her own linguistic performance (ibid., p. 2). Thus, the image of the learner developed to the one of an individual who takes active part in its own learning process.

2.2 The Positive Effects of Warm-Ups

As already touched upon in the previous chapter, warm-up-activities are an important element in EFL-lessons. In accordance with the laid out functions of these activities, the positive impact of them will be outlined in this part of the thesis.

Besides being able to let the participants of the lesson get to know each other (better), overcome students' inhibitions or support collaboration between them, the positive effects of warm-ups can be mainly assigned to activating the learners' competences and knowledge and especially motivating them. Barrantes-Elizondo analysed the teachers' understanding and usage of warm-up-activitites in EFL­classrooms, or as she calls them “class starters”, as well as how the students view them at the Costa Rican Universidad Nacional (2013, p. 1). In the figure beneath, she summarises the effects of warm-ups, starting with the impact on the motivation of the class and then proceeding to describe the consequences for the class environment and also the implications on the language learning itself. The first element, “effects on motivation”, is particularly interesting within the framework of this thesis and will be looked at in detail. However, the further positive influence that the students' motivational aspect has on the class environment as well as the process of learning EFL should not be less relevant and show, once more, how crucial motivation is in the classroom.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Effects of using class starters (Barrantes-Elizondo, 2013, p. 8)

What becomes evident in here, is that the students who took part in the study perceive teachers using warm-ups as caring and concerned about them and their learning progress. A reason for this could be that the learners recognise how the teachers put effort into planning and preparing the warm-up-activities explicitly for them, so they feel somewhat appreciated. Also, the analysis shows that the students tend to feel more secure when their teachers use warm-ups. This could possibly be explained by the fact that warm-up-activities have the direct or indirect function to create a positive atmosphere that minimises fears and insecurities of students and that they can be used as a form of ritual providing some kind of stability. Moreover, students state to attend classes more frequently when warm-ups are used, whereat they probably like to engage in these activities and are therefore more willing to take active part in the EFL-lessons in general. Thus, the students have a larger interest in learning when warm-ups are integrated in their lesson, what is certainly an important parameter that helps with their learning process and progress. Consequently, as Elizondo finds out, the students feel better prepared for facing new linguistic challenges when their teachers use warm-ups. This effect, again and amongst others, is probably connected to the function of these activities that implies generating interest in particular topics and activating previous competences. Neokleous and Krulatz clarify this benefit of warm-ups by explicating that they “[build] interest in and background knowledge for a new lesson” and “[link] previously taught information to new” (2017, p. 52). In addition to these, other crucial implications of warm-ups that are described by these two authors are e.g. that students “[review] and [recycle] previously-taught vocabulary, sentence frames or content”, they “[engage] multiple intelligences, various learning styles, and strategies”, they have a reenergising effect and they “[enhance] [...] a sense of accomplishment” (ibid., pp. 1 - 2).

Furthermore, a study from Stojkovic and Jerotijevic in Nis and Leskovac in Serbia, which took place in the school year of 2010/2011, examined the attitude towards games from a students' as well a teachers' point of view. Since games often display warm-up-activities (Stojkovic & Jerotijevic, 2011, p. 940), it makes sense to take a look at which benefits can be deduced from these. The below-mentioned tables summarise the reasons for why games should be used in EFL-classrooms, differentiating between reasons that were named by students and reasons that were described by teachers.


1in the following referred to as “EFL“

2 “komplexe, meist situativ eingebettete und lebensweltlich orientierte Handlungsfertigkeit“ (Thaler, 2012, p. 19)

3 “isolierte Einzelfertigkeiten“ (ibid., p. 19)

4 abbr. for “Qualitäts- und UnterstützungsAgentur - Landesinstitut für Schule“

Excerpt out of 13 pages


The Role of Warm-Up Plays in Classes teaching English as a Foreign Language
University of Paderborn  (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
Diagnose & Förderung (G & HRSGe), Schwerpunkt Kl. 1 - 7
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
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Anonymous, 2021, The Role of Warm-Up Plays in Classes teaching English as a Foreign Language, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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