Many educational specialists unanimously agree on the importance of extracurricular activities, as they go beyond the objectives limited to the curriculum, such as academic achievement, to focus on broader fields and horizons. Extracurricular activities can sometimes be included in class time, although they are usually outside of the classroom.
Extracurricular activities reinforce the lessons learned in the classroom first, and provide students with opportunities for practical application outside of exams and classroom exercises. Besides developing teamwork, individual and collective responsibility, and physical strength, these qualitative activities also provide students with the opportunity to learn about diverse cultures and community values.
Research and studies have also shown that participating in extracurricular activities leads to an increase in the percentage of ambition among students, continuous attendance, academic achievement, and successful participation in school. Additionally, extracurricular activities are especially helpful while learning a second or foreign language, for example, English in many countries. School and even university classes include a relatively large number of students and learners. In spite of the most effective teaching methods, their exposure to and communication with English is limited. Therefore, teachers should fill these gaps and promote the use of English through extracurricular activities related to language acquisition and proficiency, among others.
Some extracurricular activities or events that are designed to improve English learning and enhance students’ overall capabilities and explore their talents include:
- Speaking clubs that address a variety of topics in which students can communicate in English and learn more about different cultures, community values, debate etiquette, tolerance and acceptance of different points of view, and other creative topics. These clubs go beyond academic subjects and allow students to broaden their thinking, ambition, and aspirations by discussing creative topics that inspire and motivate them. These clubs also promote the acceptance of diverse viewpoints and encourage open-mindedness.
- Writing for the school newspaper or blog in English. Writing is a skill language learners should master, so writing activities like this outside the classroom will allow students to apply what they learn in the classroom and even go beyond that. Additionally, when given the chance to write about a variety of topics, students will learn new terms and enhance their vocabulary. They will also practice different writing styles, such as blogging, journalistic writing, or creative writing.
- Volunteer tasks for the school or the community. The teacher can set objectives in English by assigning tasks and holding group discussions, but after discussing these objectives and how to accomplish them, the teacher can encourage students to present a distinct summary of these tasks publicly in English.
- Using riddles and games in English. Incorporating riddles and games in English can help capture students’ attention, consolidate their understanding of previously learned information, laws, and terms, and expose them to new ones.
- Using short documentaries or inspirational videos in English to motivate students. Group discussions can be held afterwards to discuss the documentary or movie to improve students’ listening and speaking skills.
- Book clubs are a great way to provide an opportunity for learners to read short stories, novels, and other materials in English. These clubs can involve activities such as constructive discussions about the readings, writing special comments, summaries, and more. These activities can help improve reading comprehension and encourage critical thinking skills.
- Synchronous English training classes that provide students with the opportunity to learn in real-time can help improve their language skills more quickly and effectively. Additionally, synchronous classes allow students to have direct interactions with their teacher and classmates, which can facilitate a more immersive and engaging learning experience.
English language skills can be improved through a variety of extracurricular activities. Conducting these activities exclusively in English allows them to be varied and linked to the school’s own activities. The options for extracurricular activities in the English language are endless and provide ample opportunity for learners to find enjoyable and meaningful ways to improve their language skills. Taking part in extracurricular activities can help students learn new skills, improve their academic performance, develop social skills, and improve their ability to communicate and express themselves. Also, these activities can help students develop valuable work skills, like time management and goal setting, as well as build strong personalities which will prepare them for the future. Extracurricular activities should be a priority for schools in order to keep students engaged, provide them with opportunities to learn and grow, and create a diverse and stimulating environment for them to thrive in.