TEFL problems solved: keeping students motivated

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Summer is here! Sunny mornings and warm afternoons are good for the soul but bad for student concentration. You’ve suddenly noticed that your students aren’t as focused in class – their minds are already on their summer holidays! If you’re struggling to keep your students’ attention, don’t worry – we’ve come up with some tips to keep your students engaged right up until the holidays.

Make your lessons relevant to their summer plans

If you know that a lot of your students will be going away, you can build lessons around vocabulary and grammar for going on holiday. For example, you could get them to focus on complaining in a hotel, booking tickets, ordering food, losing luggage. Give them the functional language and then get them to use it in lots of role plays. You could also get them to do a web quest where they research their favourite destination and act as travel agents, trying to sell one another their trips.

Watch a film together

It might seem like a total cop out, but you can work film into your final classes in an engaging way! Watch a film in 15 minute instalments over the final weeks of term, for fifteen minutes at the end of each class. Assign each student a character from the film to follow and get them to write diary entries from the character’s point of view. A good film is Stand By Me – it’s a classic, but it’s something that both adults and teenagers respond to. They get a lot out of it – listening practice, writing practice – and they still feel like they’re getting a treat!

Give them a video project to work on

In the last few weeks of class, incorporate some drama activities into your classes. Get your students to make up characters and write a script, then film it in the second last class. If they’re not as creative, you could even get them to talk about their favourite class during the course, or the most useful thing that they learned. It’ll take a bit of time, but you can edit it down (iMovie and 8mm are our favourite tools for video editing) to screen on the last day of class. Your students will enjoy watching themselves on screen, speaking in English, and it will be a nice memory of their classes. You could even bring in some popcorn!

Host an awards ceremony

There’s always a lot of pressure on the first day of term, but it’s also important to make the last day of class a memorable one. After all, it will probably be the last time that you’ll all be together in the same room, so it’s nice for the students to feel like it’s an important occasion, especially as they’ve been studying hard for the last year. A nice way of commemorating the year is to make up an award for each student and get them to prepare an acceptance speech.

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