Top tips to engage your students
22 August 2019

Academic Conference 2019 091

Motivating your students to engage with your lessons can be tricky. During the English UK ELT Conference in January, our delegates shared their concerns about getting students to become actively involved in lessons. These concerns included, low interest levels in the chosen topics, fear of speaking or giving an answer, being "too cool for school" and their level of English being too low.

Here are some top tips we learnt from our expert speakers at our conference for teachers and academic managers earlier this year.

1. Pose, pause, pounce, bounce

In her talk about creative ideas to get students thinking and speaking, Chrissi Florides suggested using the pose, pause, pounce, bounce activity. The director of studies at Globe English Centre advised that this method is useful to give all your students a chance to speak and share their opinions in preparation for the Cambridge speaking exam.

To start the activity, place all students' names into a hat or a random name generator. Then:

  • Pose: ask a question
  • Pause: give students time to think
  • Pounce: pick a name and get them to answer your question
  • Bounce: pick another name and ask them to comment on the first student's answer.

You can pounce and bounce as many times as you want before moving on to another question.

2. Create "me moments" for your students

To motivate your students, you can give them more control over their learning. Mel Judge, senior academic manager at Stafford House, advised our guests to make a two-way learning experience by getting to know their students by valuing their interests, opinions, strengths and weaknesses.

3. Give your students some ownership

Once you have got to know your students, give them the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and be the experts by allowing them to choose a topic to learn or the activities that will be used to learn it. Mel suggested to involve your students in goal setting as a group and individuals or even encourage some healthy competition between students to achieve together.

4. Personalise your classroom

While often forgotten and an unplanned area of teaching, the classroom environment can be used to create a supportive environment that maximises motivation by:

  • Putting relevant posters and examples of student work around the room
  • Varying seating plans and groups
  • Ensuring adequate space for mingle activities
  • Use your local environment for historical or functional purposes
  • Bring the outside into your lessons with walking tours, going to a café, or cinema trips.

5. Harness technology

Use the power of technology that is at the forefront of our lives. Try starting with the basics by setting up a blog or doing a quiz before moving on to other software for reading comprehension or developing writing skills suggested by Nik Peachey, an expert in educational technology.

If you have the technology, consider taking Ross Holmes' suggestion from the English UK Marketing Conference of using virtual or augmented technology to engage your students by allowing them to explore historical locations or Martian planets.

You can get even more top tips next year when our ELT Conference returns on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 January 2020.

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