Engage Your Students

It is crucial that you engage your students from the moment class starts, otherwise, you may as well be teaching at a brick wall. Keeping them engaged is also tricky, but I am here to help with these 3 easy tips.

Teaching with EPIKWhen teaching in the elementary schools, your classes can sometimes get a little boring and the students catch on to this very quickly.  This isn’t anything against you personally as a teacher; it’s simply the fact that we are required to follow the textbook.  

Even in schools with low-level students, the textbook can be incredibly boring for both the teachers and the students. So now you may be asking, how can I get my students excited and ready for class?

One of the benefits of working with EPIK and in 2 different schools is that I have 4 different co-teachers and each of them has their own way of starting a class.  I will share some of the most effective ways to get the class excited, from what I have seen.

1. Starting a class with a song

A few of my co-teachers use this method but in their own way.  One of them has about 15-20 songs saved on her computer and are a wide variety ranging from education favorites such as “I am a Pizza” to pop stars like Maroon 5.

Depending on the day, 2 or 3 students will have the opportunity to pick a song that they want to hear.  Obviously to make this fair, we use a program that randomly selects students from the class because they will lose it and start to cry if anything seems even slightly unfair. And the goal is to get them excited not crying.

This particular co-teacher also has some videos for Just Dance, which the kids LOVE!!! Not only do they get to sing along but this also gets the class up and moving so they aren’t so antsy once the lesson begins.

Another co-teacher found a very silly “Hello” song online and plays that song at the beginning of every class.  As soon as the students hear the song start, they immediately sit down, focus up to the front of the classroom, and usually sing along.

Yes this song is silly and at times the 5th and 6th graders are “too cool” for it, but they still love the song and request it.  Both ways are effective to getting the student’s attention and letting them know that class is starting.

2. Review Games

During a TEFL course, it is drilled into your head repeatedly how important it is to start your class with a review.  These students might have gone 4 or 5 days without any form of English.  Just think back to when you were learning a foreign language in school and how difficult it was to switch your brain into either Spanish/French/German or whatever it was.

Review games help students to begin thinking in English before new vocabulary and grammar is introduced.  And then there’s the obvious point, that it’s a game, which all kids love. Having a fun activity at the beginning of class will get the students on your side, and trust me that is something you want.

There is nothing worse than trying to force students to learn and participate when they want nothing to do with your class.

3. General Conversation

At the beginning of every class, I always ask the students how they are or how their weekend was. Most of the time they will answer “I’m fine/angry/hungry/tired…”  It really just depends on whatever their favorite word is at that particular moment.

But when they answer “I’m tired/sad,” I always follow up with “Why are you tired/sad?”  This gets the students thinking a little more and it also trains them to be more positive so they don’t constantly get asked a follow-up question.  After a while, even if they are lying, they will give positive answers, which helps to set the tone for a positive and happy lesson.

All 3 of these techniques are different but have one basic concept in common.  They all provide an easy transition into thinking in English. There is no reason why you can’t implement 2 of these options when beginning class.

With a song, they are just listening and some may be singing and then general conversation brings in speaking.  The more diverse your warm-up, the better prepared the students will be.

Adding an element of fun helps to get the students happy and excited, but then as a teacher, it is your job to keep that excitement up throughout your lesson.

kim jacksonKim started her teaching career in Quito, Ecuador teaching Business English.  After a year of living in South America, she decided to try something new and teach in South Korea through the EPIK program.  Before teaching, Kim was an Athletic Trainer working with high school aged students participating in all different types of sports.  When not teaching, Kim enjoys being active whether playing sports, hiking, or taking a walk to explore the city.  One of Kim’s biggest goals is to see as much of this world as possible.

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