“I teach everything I’m supposed to teach in class, but I’d like to make my classes more dynamic. Do you have any tips or advice?” *
This question brings up a great point. You may be teaching your students everything they are supposed to be learning; you may be following the syllabus and covering all the points; it is very likely your students are even learning what they are expected to learn. But would you settle for this? Don’t you want to make your classes truly great? Don’t you want to not only catch and hold your students’ attention, but also keep them happy and engaged for the duration of the course? Here is where dynamic lessons come in. And here’s how you can make your classes more dynamic.
Discover These 7 Ways to Make Your ESL Classes More Dynamic
Use a Powerful Tool – Your Voice!
If you ever fell asleep during a class or lecture, you’ll probably remember that it was not so much the topic that made you doze off but the teacher’s monotone. The problem with not changing pitch is that it conveys a complete lack of expression. So be expressive! Be animated! Raise and lower your pitch. Talk louder. And then whisper as if you were sharing a secret. Your voice can not only convey feelings and emotions, it also keeps your students alert.
You finish an engaging activity…but then you can’t find the flashcards you need for the next one. Several minutes tick by as you mumble things like, “Now, where did I put those cards?...They must be here somewhere…I know I put them in my bag this morning...”, and students look on with expectant faces. The energy and mood you created with the previous activity is deflated, and precious minutes are wasted while you search your bag for whatever it is you need. To make classes more dynamic you need to move from one activity to the next seamlessly. And to achieve this, you need to have all of the day’s materials beforehand. Keep them on a shelf, on your desk or in a box. Just be sure they’re handy.
Quite often, we introduce a topic by setting a scene. Say you’re going to introduce the use of “should” for giving advice. So you launch into a list of things you usually do when you or someone in your family feels sick. But try this instead. Ask your students what it is they do when they’re sick. Do they go to the doctor’s or speak to them on the phone first? Do they take an aspirin? Or do they try grandma’s home remedies? Brainstorm a list of typical home remedies! You can always set the scene with a story or anecdote, but student participation makes things a lot more dynamic. Avoid lecturing. Ask good questions and lead in to the topic you want to introduce.
Unexpected twists keep things interesting. So if you always have your class act out conversations while sitting, make them stand up! If you always pair them with the student sitting next to them, make them stand up and move so they can be paired with someone they usually don’t interact with. And while we’re on the topic of moving…
Move Around the Classroom
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an ESL teacher is to teach while sitting at your desk. Standing up is great; everyone can see and hear you as you move back and forth from the whiteboard to your desk. But it’s even better when you walk around the classroom. All around. Walk to the back and to the front. Walk around your students’ desks. Up and down the aisles. Do this while you speak, while you ask questions and while you listen to them. They will be forced to follow you with their gaze, and they will hear you louder when you get closer. Nothing is more dynamic than movement!
Try New Things
Tried and tested is great, but every now and then, introduce a new game, different activity or innovative technology. Never used a computer in class before? There’s never been a better time! Always practice grammar with flashcards? How about a board game instead?
Give it a Structure
So you move around and implement new things. You may even transition smoothly from one activity to the next. Students seem happy and engaged. Your lesson was finally dynamic! But wait…are you sure you gave it a solid backbone? Like any good story, a lesson has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, you review what you did last time and introduce the goals for this class. Then, you go through the activities you’ve planned to meet the day’s goal. Finally, you put it all together at the end with an activity that will confirm the goal and give the lesson some closure. What does this have to do with keeping the class dynamic? Because simply jumping from one activity to the next with no organization, no end goal in mind, leads to confusion. A truly dynamic class takes a lot more than simply a frenzy of activity. You want your students to walk away with a lesson learned.
So you see, there are several “ingredients” you could add to your lessons to create a dynamic learning environment. Just one or two may not be enough. The more you mix and match, the better, and the more dynamic, the results will be.
Any more ideas for more dynamic classes?
Share them in the comments below!
* This question was sent in from a real ESL teacher, just like you! If you need any advice on a particular topic, share your question in the comments below. Or tweet your question to @busyteacher_org with the hashtag #ESLTeachersAsk. Your question might get picked and featured in an article!