An easy and surprisingly engaging way to lead into the topic or theme of a lesson can be to get the students writing a definition of the word central to the topic. Many lessons and units in coursebooks have titles such as ‘Survival’, Challenges’, ‘Culture’, Media’, or ‘Art’. These more abstract ideas can be interesting to define.
A suggested procedure:
1. Write the word on the board with part of speech and phonemic transcription, as it would appear in the dictionary.
2. Ask the students to discuss the meaning of the word with a partner.
3. Tell the students you would like them to write an approximate definition of the word and give them a couple of minutes to do so.
4. Students compare definitions with a parter, then work together to write one.
5. Students compare with another pair.
6. T asks ss for their definitions. This stage is interesting as some students usually explore slightly different parameters of meaning.
7. T writes dictionary definition on the board for students to compare.
This may not sound that interesting but I have always found students to be very engaged by this type of exercise and it really gets them thinking about the topic at a greater depth. Give it a go!