How to Keep Young Students Engaged

The nightmare: blank expressions, someone casually snoozing on the back row, the room erupting into private conversations or worse…silence.

Worry not! Here are six ways to make sure you keep your pupils engaged:

1) Keep it exciting – start with a warmer

Think of the first part of a lesson as a see-saw, it could go one way or the other (you get the drift) but this means it is also the most important! No pressure! So how can you stop all hell breaking loose? Ask any teacher what the key is to getting your pupils engaged from the very beginning? Start with a warmer! This will wake your students up (both mind and body!) and ready to get on with the lesson.

2) Zip it!

There really is nothing worse than a teacher that lectures their pupils. You must remember that feeling? Staring at the clock, out of the window? ANYTHING to not look at the teacher and listen to that monotonous voice. Ok, so let’s not do that now that you’re in the driving seat! Your pupils did not come for a lecture; at the end of the day they’re here to learn. The less you talk the better, the whole point is to get them talking. :) So if you feel there is a silence that is stretching a BIT too long, don’t fill it with your words, fill it with theirs. Plan.

3) Group work

Being put on the spot in front of your peers AND in a different language too!? How embarrassing! It’s no wonder that confidence tends to be the biggest barrier to overcome for new English learners. By getting your pupils talking to one another either in big or small groups they’ll be more likely to feel comfortable enough to speak up next time! Supervised role-play is a great way to keep pupils chatting but focused too. Using incentives is also a big bonus, rewarding pupils for good work might seem like teaching 101 but a sense of achievement will no doubt boost a child’s confidence in speaking!

4) Mix it up!

A great way to keep students engaged is to break up your methods of teaching. Make sure to have a combination of textbook work, showing images, group-work and activities. Images, in particular, are a great way to add a more visual dimension to your teaching.

5) Elicit

To ensure that students really understand what you’re teaching them it is important to get them to tell YOU the answer not the other way around. By putting students in a situation where they cannot just answer either yes or no will get them talking too!

6) Be prepared!

Just in case the buzz of the initial warmer wears off, it’s always safe to have a detailed lesson plan, you don’t want that prolonged silence to rear its ugly head again! If you’re short for ideas here is a free download of 20 lesson plans. Aren’t we kind?

If you feel like you could do with brushing up on your teaching methods then make sure you invest in the essential TEFL book – a 324 page source of Grammar, Lesson Plans and Activities.

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