The Use of Feely Bags in EFL/ ESL Classrooms

Learning a new language can be a challenging task, especially for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Educators often face the daunting task of teaching vocabulary and language skills in a manner that is engaging and interactive. One innovative and effective tool that can be incorporated into EFL/ ESL classrooms is feely bags.

Feely bags are simply bags or containers filled with a variety of objects that students can touch and feel without seeing. They provide a hands-on, multi-sensory experience that promotes experiential learning and encourages active participation. By incorporating the sense of touch, feely bags engage different learning styles and enhance vocabulary acquisition through a kinaesthetic approach.

One of the primary benefits of using feely bags in an EFL/ ESL classroom is their ability to activate students’ prior knowledge and foster critical thinking skills. When presented with a new word, students can reach into the bag and explore the objects inside to guess its meaning. This hands-on approach allows them to make connections between the tactile experience and the word, enhancing comprehension and retention. Feely bags enable students to build on their existing schema, making the learning process more meaningful and memorable.

Feely bags also promote language production and reinforce vocabulary usage. Once the students have explored the objects in the bag and made their guesses, they can describe the textures, shapes, and characteristics of the items they felt. They can then articulate their findings in spoken or written form, using the newly learned vocabulary. This practice encourages active participation and allows students to reinforce their understanding and usage of the target language.

In addition to enhancing vocabulary acquisition and language production, feely bags provide a platform for collaborative learning. When students work in pairs or small groups, they can take turns reaching into the bag, feeling the objects, and discussing their observations. This cooperative learning environment fosters peer interaction, communication, and negotiation of meaning. Through this process, students learn from each other, share ideas, and consolidate their understanding of the target language.

Another advantage of feely bags is their versatility in addressing various linguistic areas, such as adjectives, descriptive language, or idiomatic expressions. Educators can prepare bags containing objects that represent specific adjectives, such as smooth, rough, soft, or hard. Alternatively, they can create bags centred around a particular theme, such as animals, food, or nature. This flexibility allows teachers to adapt feely bags to suit different language learning objectives and cater to students’ diverse interests.

To maximise the effectiveness of feely bags, it is crucial to ensure the objects inside are safe, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive. Teachers should avoid objects that may have negative connotations, disrespect cultural values, or be off-putting to any student. Transparent communication with students and understanding their individual needs and sensitivities are essential for an inclusive learning environment.

In conclusion, the use of feely bags in EFL/ ESL classrooms brings a tactile, interactive element to language learning. They engage students’ sense of touch, activate prior knowledge, promote language production, and encourage collaboration. Feely bags offer an effective and enjoyable way to enhance vocabulary acquisition and encourage the usage of the target language. By incorporating this innovative tool, educators can create a dynamic and engaging learning environment that supports students’ language development while catering to their diverse learning needs.

Published by Shady

CELTA / DELTA Tutor, English Assessment, Cambridge University

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