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The tiny computer window that hosts online English lessons can be restrictive. Keeping kids and adults engaged can be taxing when there’s so little to be inspired by on a screen. Whether it be one-to-one online teaching or group ESL classes, providing an engaging educational experience can be extremely difficult without in-person interaction.
Luckily, our super experienced TEFLPros team has a wealth of tips and strategies to foster an engaging learning environment for your online English teachers. Looking to inject a little more life into your online tutoring? Try these ideas on for size.
This strategy is especially useful for nurturing English conversational skills. While many online English teachers feel chained to their desks, why not move the classroom setting to a real-life scenario?
Why not migrate to the kitchen, where you can cook a dish with your student? Use your online English lesson to familiarize students with food and cooking-related vocabulary. Have your students practice reading recipes and using the imperative form by giving instructions. Run through adjectives to describe the taste, texture, and smells associated with what you’re doing.
This kind of ‘in real-life’ learning is suitable in a plethora of scenarios, from gardening to home decorating, from applying make-up to grocery shopping. Find shared situations that you and your student can do together and add a practical element for more stimulating learning.
Thematic learning enables you to teach a range of language skills within a focused subject. Rather than abstractly teaching English grammar and vocabulary, relate it to a topic with which your students identify.
Tailor your worksheets and materials to the theme, while injecting fun and humor into the lessons with themed outfits and props to support the topic.
Let’s say you’ve chosen a pirate theme. Dress up as a pirate and use a parrot puppet as a character to prompt your ESL students. Maybe even add a pirate-y voice to the mix for added entertainment. Find pirate-themed ESL teaching resources online, like Pirate Treasure Hunt, Treasure Chest of Verbs, and Pirate Bingo.
The key is to lock into a theme that your student finds exciting and leverage that topic to keep your students actively participating.
Experienced ESL teachers understand the power of puppets and props to teach English to young learners. Young ESL students enjoy the fun and frivolity associated with talking sock puppets and stuffed toy teachers.
In terms of puppets and characters, young learners enjoy finger puppets and stuffed animals, as well as well-known cartoon characters. Try to add a purpose to each character, as this adds continuity to English language learning. For example, Mr. Reading Rhino could be used to help ESL students who are struggling to read, while Mr. Descriptive Dinosaur can be used to encourage more compelling adjectives in speech and writing.
Teaching props can come in all shapes and sizes, from toy food to flashcards. Try to find props that strengthen vocabulary, encourage better spelling, incite comparisons, and can be used for role play. Some of the best online teaching props include:
Keeping groups engaged in a online classroom can be challenging as you need to meet the needs of everyone in the ESL class at once. While group online English lessons may only include up to four students, it can be easy to lose one or two students — especially if your attention is diverted to a struggling student.
One of the best ways to keep all students focused during the teaching experience is to turn the lesson into a game show. Gamification spurs students on with a little friendly competition. Use bells or buzzers to create a multisensory learning environment and increase interactive participation.
Game shows can range from spelling bees to rhyming rounds. Have students compete on who can find the most synonyms for a word or play a ‘Countdown’ style competition.
Ultimately, by fostering a sense of competitiveness in your online classroom, you can keep all students engaged and also pinpoint which students are lagging.
It can be tricky for some students to sit still for an entire hour, especially if online tutoring is occurring after school. Liven your online teaching sessions up with a little physical movement.
For younger students, you can use nursery rhymes with actions — like ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ or ‘Wheels on the Bus’. Alternatively try games like ‘Simon Says’ or ‘Do This, Do That’. Use songs and games that combine movement and vocabulary.
For older students, incorporate scavenger hunts into your online English lessons. Give your ESL student a description and have them find something in their room or house that matches the description. Tack on a ‘Show and Tell’ with the item to help improve storytelling skills, vocabulary, and spoken grammar.
Online English lessons don’t need to be boring. While many online English teaching companies will provide a basic curriculum and well-crafted ESL lesson plans for you, this doesn’t mean you are limited to using only the teaching materials provided.
Diversify by injecting a little fun into your virtual classroom. Move your body, incorporate games, and incite a little healthy competition between classmates.
For those looking to craft memorable and engaging online English lessons, completing a reputable TEFL certificate — like the TEFLPros 120-hour course — will help you to more effectively plan inspiring lessons.
Not only do our fully-accredited TEFL courses provide you with the skills and strategies you need to deliver engaging English lessons online, but you’ll also have access to ACCREDITAT’s developmental materials and resources to support you further in your online classroom.
Sign up to our TEFL certification today and learn how to deliver stimulating online English classes to keep your students engaged and energized in every lesson.