The English theme day in Norway (Fagdagen i engelsk, in Norwegian) has a relatively long tradition in Norwegian secondary schools. Two theme days are organised during each school year – one in the fall and one in the spring semester. The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2019) highlights the need for encouraging student participation and desire to learn a foreign language, by using a variety of strategies and learning resources. Moreover, it underlines the importance of both individual and collaborative work when learning a new language. Thus, the main objective of theme days is to provide students with English language practice through engaging and motivating activities, where assessment in terms of grades is not the main focus.

This article sets out to share four specific activities, used by the English section at Kongsvinger middle school in Norway in the fall of 2022. Middle school in Norway consists of grades eight to ten, ages twelve to fifteen. Due to the scope of this article, we will briefly present each activity and describe some of its affordances. We would like to emphasise that the majority of our students are proficient in the English language. It is widely acknowledged that English plays a fundamental role in Norwegian society, and, for this reason, Norwegian scholars are debating whether English should be considered a foreign or second language (Brevik & Rindal, 2021). Thus, the activities that we suggest in this paper may need adaptations, in order to meet students’ academic and linguistic needs beyond Scandinavia. We did so in our own school, as we used the same activities in all three grades. Another important factor which is worth mentioning is that our students use an iPad on a regular basis, meaning that it is common for them to use digital tools inside and outside the classroom, and for different purposes. As we will see, at least some degree of digital competence is needed to complete some of the activities suggested below.

Four activities for the English classroom

1 Dubbing a film clip

This is the typical activity in which students are given a film clip with no sound at all, which they are required to edit. To this end, students must write a script, record a voiceover and add a soundtrack. Video editing tools such as Windows Movie Maker may be used to edit the clip. For this activity, students were divided into groups of five, and we tried to make sure that at least one of the group members was competent in video editing. Overall, the activity was highly successful. However, not all groups managed to complete the task on time and needed extra time the week after. This implies that the task may help students value the power of collaborative work, as students need to decide what the script of the film clip will be, as well as to how the clip will be edited.

2 Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes1

In this game, students need a certain amount of communication skills to succeed in the game. The game is divided into two groups, one student will wear a virtual reality (VR) headset with the game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes installed, and another group of up to four students with the ‘how to defuse’ manual. The goal of the game lies within its name, meaning that the group needs to be in constant communication in order to assess and defuse a virtual bomb within five minutes. Each puzzle is randomly generated and has a selection of clues to solve that exact puzzle. This means that the VR-wearer and the rest of the group have to continuously explain to each other what is on the bomb, i.e. what colours are present, which position the numbers are placed in, what serial number the bomb has, and how many batteries are present. The manual is quite extensive, which means that the students must quickly figure out features of the puzzles and give the VR-wearer clear and short commands. By continuously asking each other questions and ruling out the numerous possibilities to defuse the bomb, the students can effectively get better at the game with each round.

3 Scavenger hunt

The Norwegian school, in general, constantly encourages students to actively use their immediate surroundings, when carrying out educational activities. For this reason, we divided students into small groups and assigned them a task which involved going outside the school building and take pictures of a number of objects (e.g., some sand from the local river, a traffic sign, an electric car, etc.). As students walked and tried to find the objects in the list, they were strongly encouraged to speak English to each other. This, in our opinion, allowed them to use the language for communication purposes, without the pressure of being evaluated by their teacher. Despite bad weather conditions, which are typical of the fall in Norway, all students completed this task on time, as they also became more aware of the importance of using English in informal settings and using nature for language learning purposes. Moreover, it also allowed them to use language in their own context.

4 Online games

Once the students had done the three previous activities, the main goal was to provide them with more language practice in a less controlled way. To this end, two specific online games were chosen. Drawasaurus2 provides a learning platform in which one student is given the opportunity to draw an object for the rest of the class to guess the word or concept. Spent3 is a web-based game which can be used to raise awareness of the real-life situation of a large number of people in the United States and other countries. In this game, students are to position themselves as adults who need to get a job and pay basic expenses, while also trying to support their children and/or ill parents. By the end of the game, students realise how challenging it may be to support themselves and other family members, even in the so-called rich countries. This game, in our view, may be an asset to discussing the importance of managing money wisely, the social constructs in the US, as well as using online games to improve one´s language skills. For instance, these two games may contribute to expanding the students’ vocabulary based on different situations and the ability to decide what vocabulary is appropriate for these particular situations.

Concluding remarks

In this text, we have briefly described the main idea behind the English theme day in Norway and presented four specific activities implemented at our own school. Unfortunately, due to the limited space allowed in this type of text, the activities were presented very briefly. Still, it is our hope that this text contributes to increased attention towards the importance and affordances of theme days such as the one we have in Norway each semester. We would also like to invite other schoolteachers to comment on other ways to provide students with language practice where the focus is on increased collaboration and motivation, and not on assessment in terms of grades.


Brevik, L. & Rindal, U. (2020). Teaching English in Norwegian classrooms: From research to practice. Universitetsforlaget.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2019). Læreplan i engelsk. Available from (Last accessed 18 January 2023).

Nahúm Misael Tórrez is an English and Spanish language teacher at Kongsvinger middle school, Norway. He has taught both subjects in Nicaragua and Norway for several years. Tórrez is at his final stages of a PhD in ELT at the University of South-Eastern Norway. Research Gate:

Silje Nilsen Strømsnes is an English and social sciences teacher at Kongsvinger middle school, Norway. She has a master’s in English literature and has taught both subjects in elementary and secondary schools in Norway for two years.