Day in day out, week in week out. Classes can become repetitive and frustrating for both students and the teacher. It’s important to maintain a dynamic and lively atmosphere in the classroom to best facilitate students’ learning. The first, and most important step, is to make sure you keep your students’ attention.
Here are five tips that I use to do just that:
1. Ask students questions at random
Never go around the class in a systematic order (i.e. clockwise, alphabetical). Students can predict when they will be asked and can switch off until it’s their turn.
Asking randomly means they not only have to have done each task, they will also have to stay alert for the whole question and feedback session.
2. Always ask concept checking questions
To make sure students pay attention during teacher led input, such as grammar or vocabulary, always follow up with a series of questions that apply the point to a parallel example. Students will have to follow your work to be able to answer the concept questions at the end.
3. Change the classroom dynamics
Changing the furniture, the students or yourself can help maintain attention levels.
Moving tables around and randomly changing where the students sit can help keep everyone in the room awake. It gets students moving and the blood flowing and helps you avoid moments of potential mind wandering.
Changing where you teach from can also have a similar effect. It can keep you sane too.
4. Use humour
Everyone likes to get the joke, so if you’re naturally confident in telling one then you should.
Getting students laughing is a great way to build rapport in the classroom. Any student who misses the joke because they were not paying attention will feel left out and will do their best to hear the next one.
It doesn’t have to be a stand up show (remember Russell Brand used to teach English…badly), but throwing in a few gags can really liven up a lesson.
5. Choose original, topical and interesting subjects
If you’d be bored to talk about it then so will your students.
How many times would you like to speak about your family or the food from your country?
Language students go through the same routine every term, so liven up your lessons by asking them what they’d like to talk about. Find recent stories in the news and articles from more unusual magazines and journals. Practical based subjects are great too.