The new academic year is just around the corner and we are preparing to return to English classes! However, after long and relaxing summer vacations, some students may feel unmotivated to return to the same classroom life, especially if they have been studying English for several years. So how can we inspire students to keep learning and reconnecting with English? By bringing in new resources, learning approaches and goals, we are sure that you can rekindle the joy of learning.
So let’s look at five ways you can re-inspire your students in the upcoming academic year.
1. Set yourself new goals
Students can lose interest in the class or feel discouraged if they don’t have a clear goal to work towards. If your class does, have them write a list of five new goals they want to achieve.
It is crucial to have these goals SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. So instead of just saying, “I want to learn more vocabulary,” let the students do it SMART.
Specific: I want to learn new advanced vocabulary that I can use while writing.
Measurable: I am testing whether I can define and use 20 new words in sentences.
Accessible: I will devote 2 hours a week to studying definitions and writing example sentences in context.
Relevant: This will help me get a good score in mine PTE exam while struggling with formal academic language.
In time: I will learn 20 new words by the end of September.
If learners find it difficult to come up with goals, ask them to write one for each language skill: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. You can also refer to the GSE teacher toolkit with hundreds of learning objectives organized by age, level, skill type and more!
The idea is to encourage them to set clear goals that will give them an exciting new challenge for the year ahead.
2. Encourage students to find people to talk to
Students can lose interest in improving their English if they have only studied in one classroom. They may find it boring and have nothing to do with their real life.
A great way to address this is to encourage them to speak to English speakers outside of class. That way they learn new vocabulary and expressions and it will give them more confidence in their language skills.
Suggest that they take part in a language exchange. Facebook and To meet are great platforms to find regular language exchange events in your area. While this is suitable for advanced and above, it can be a bit daunting for beginners.
In this case the app is HelloTalk may be a suitable alternative. Similar to a language exchange, learners can network with people from all over the world. You can choose people of a similar level to them and depending on their ability and confidence, you can either write messages, send short audios, or make video calls.
If you teach teenagers you might also be interested in ours Pearson and BBC live courses Project that brings together study groups from around the world in an international classroom hosted on Zoom. Each course is based on a different topic and is led by one of our experienced trainers.
Communicating with real people is a fun and encouraging reason for your learners to improve!
3. Introducing interesting new vocabulary
Students can become discouraged after years of studying but not seeing great progress. A simple and effective way to help them improve their level is to encourage them to expand their vocabulary.
They already have to learn a lot of vocabulary from their textbooks. So why not give it a more personal twist and ask for suggestions on topics that interest you?
Maybe you are a gamer and want to learn to communicate better with other gamers around the world? Pick vocabulary about playing styles, turn-taking, and strategies they can use – they can practice in class and enjoy homework!
Some of your students may want to study or work abroad. This may be a common topic, but one thing that is not discussed often is how to deal with the paperwork of living in another country. If they speak more precise language about banking, renting an apartment or setting up WiFi, for example, they can feel more secure when moving. Although these things differ from country to country, there is a lot of overlapping vocabulary and role-playing games will do wonders to calm and excite them for their adventures ahead!
Of course, by allowing your students to take control of their learning, their motivation will be higher and you, too, will enjoy learning a particular language about their interests.
4. Work on specific problem areas
Language learners can get frustrated and lose motivation if they keep making the same mistakes. This can make them feel discouraged in their skills and want to give up, especially for those looking to take exams. You can help them improve by identifying specific problem areas and tailoring your lessons to work on them.
The Pearson English Readiness test helps your learners identify where their weaknesses are and avoid the frustration of sitting and failing an exam. They are free to determine exactly what they need to work on and you can devote your lessons to exactly what they need rather than covering areas they may not have problems with.
For example, if students have difficulty reading comprehension, you can try introducing more varied reading material. Ask them to bring blog posts, magazines, and news articles on topics they find interesting. Highlight keywords in the text to aid understanding of the piece and create comprehension questions that are similar to the format of the test you will be taking.
By paying a little more attention to fixing problem areas, learners will soon see their progress, which will encourage and inspire them to move on!
5. Change your class format
Sometimes learners become demotivated simply because they have become too used to the format of the class. If so, you might want to take a break from the textbook and try some more creative language learning methods. For example:
- Use interactive games
Suitable for all levels, you can use platforms such as Kahoot or quizto test your learners. This offers a new dimension to teaching, which promotes the fun of the language. Team them up to add a competitive element – there’s nothing like a friendly game to keep students excited!
Teach online? Check out these five fun platforms.
Divide your class into small groups and have them work on a project that you can present to the rest of the group. Pick topics that they could cover in their textbooks, such as jobs, travel, or cultural traditions. Or even better – let the students come up with their own ideas! This activity can be adapted to all levels and is challenging as learners have to push their language boundaries.
More suitable for advanced learners and above, class debates get everyone talking. You can ask students to brainstorm on topics that they are interested in. They can offer suggestions like climate change, promoting junk food, or the impact of social media. They will love to talk about things that affect them!
Add some unexpected activities to get students back to the classroom and get students interested in learning again!
Back to school resources To inspire students anew
If you are looking for more information, tips and strategies for the new academic year, we will be happy to provide you all the back-to-school content you need. You will find tips for lesson planning, the use of technology in the classroom, dealing with anxiety and much more.
Visit our back to the school page Now you can find out what to expect in the coming weeks!