Teaching is undeniably a challenging job, in fact many consider it one of the most difficult careers you could choose. Nevertheless, being a teacher is an enriching experience. Through quality education and effective teaching methodologies, teachers play a crucial role in shaping a bright future for the entire world!
In the world of ESL, a major hindrance that keeps students from reaching their full potential is lack of interest, boredom, or both. Even the most experienced educators will tell you that having years’ of experience is worthless if students are distant, disengaged and uninterested.
So What’s The Key?
Clearly, making your classes engaging and effective is paramount. Did you know that the average student only places his full attention and focus towards an object or subject for up to 10 to 15 minutes at a time?
A quarter of an hour is the only time teachers have to actually deliver knowledge to students. It’s also due to this fact that more and more schools are strict in terms of teacher applications, as evidenced by their willingness to employ only those who have the ability and experience to engage their students and motivate them through their lessons.
Here are some simple but extremely helpful tips that you can implement in your classroom to make your ESL lessons more interesting:
#1 Plan lessons that are interesting to your students
Students who are being eaten by boredom will not learn anything in class. You may appreciate the silence that boredom brings, but in reality you are failing to educate your students.
To make your ESL classes more interesting, make your lessons short and sweet. There is simply no need for long lectures as this may actually do more harm than good to you and your students.
Longer lectures tend to be less desirable, thus making it impossible for students to absorb your lessons. By keeping your lesson short and simple, you are guaranteed 100% attention of your students.
#2 Get students actively participating during lessons
There are a few students in your class who are present almost daily, but are mentally absent. These are children, teenagers, and adults who may have enrolled in your language class for reasons outside of personal interest.
For this particular group, make sure to implement teaching methodologies that will keep them engaged. Here are some suggestions:
- Role playing between two or more students and facilitated by a teacher will push students to think creatively.
- Playing games is a sure fire way to keep your students focused on your classes. Even grownups appreciate games.
- Writing is another way to spark the interest of your students and hold their attention from beginning to end. Create a story and let them resume it by translating their ideas into writing.
- Another effective way to incorporate writing into your curriculum is requiring a daily journal entry.
#3 Always interact with your students in English
If you teach an ESL class for foreign students, ask them to interact with you and the rest of the class in English. You will notice that some students are not actually bored in class, but are actually just shy to share their opinions for fear of making mistakes.
If this is the case, be supportive by providing a safe environment in which they can practice language skills freely.
Requiring everyone to interact in English will force their brains to work hard to make connections and bring their vocabulary into their fast access memory.
#4 Lead them outside the classroom
Sitting in class for hours on end is boring. Spice things up by taking your class outdoors. Taking your students outdoors will most assuredly increase their attention lifespan. In addition, educational tours help students absorb knowledge easier as they are presented with more materials and stimuli in new environments.
#5 Implement a reward system for your students
Providing students with rewards during your ESL lessons is yet another effective way of increasing their attention and boosting motivation. The concept of reward inspires students to be more receptive to learning. To keep your students more motivated to participate and engage during lessons, present unseen lesson benefits as rewards as well.
For instance, if you are teaching English, you may want to praise the many advantages of English proficiency, such as better job opportunities in the future and the ability to communicate effectively with other people.
Another form of reward is through external motivation, by way of praising your students who participate and perform in class. Tangible rewards such as prizes and certificates are also effective ways to encourage students.
#6 Build up student confidence
Continuous motivation is vital to your students’ self-confidence and ability to perform.
One of the most counter effective actions a teacher can take is criticizing (negatively) poor performance. Let students commit mistakes and then carefully explain to them where they went wrong. This may test your patience, but once you have helped them build their self-confidence, they will try harder next time to get a more positive feedback.
Help build your students’ confidence by asking them to complete simple tests that can be easily achieved by everyone in your class. In this way, their self- confidence will increase gradually, until lessons become less conscious and your students become more driven to learn more in class.
About Ryan O’Sullivan – English Instructor at The TEFL Academy
Ryan is an experienced EFL Teacher and director of The TEFL Academy. A combined love of language learning and a hunger to travel led Ryan to become an EFL teacher. Ryan advocates the practice of language teaching from the students’ perspective and believes that empathy and patience are essential for this job. Ryan has plenty of advice for new teachers, but thinks the most important thing in his job is to take a genuine interest in your students.