Super-charge your English teaching for the New Year

Super-charge your English teaching for the New Year

Could your classes do with a some New Year sparkle? How can we re-boot learning and keep our students motivated and making progress in 2021?

Hopefully students will return after the Christmas break re-motivated and ready to learn, whether that’s online or in person.  What a great time then for us to start afresh with our students. We can ring in the changes, refocus classes and optimise learning.

Personally, I will be using the Christmas break to rethink some of my classes to help my intermediate level learners break through the well-known ‘intermediate plateau.’ I really want to re-ignite their interest and English skills in 2021.

How about you? If your classes could use a boost, let’s look together at how can we stimulate their learning, as we engage our students to help them keep motivated and making progress with their English.

In this two-part article (part 2 next week) I’ll look at six things I’m going to be doing with my students – maybe you may want to do the same!

Here are the first three ideas to get your student up and ready to climb out of their intermediate plateau:

    1. Ask them about their goals

You could have them complete the following phrases, for example:

“In 3 months I want to be able to…”
“In 1 year I want to be able to…”

Try to be specific.

For example, “In 3 months, I want to be more fluent.” is not so easy to quantify.

How about:
In 3 months, I want to be able to pass an interview in English for a job!”

It’s much more tangible, will focus your lesson material and motivate your students to work towards this goal. You can then talk about how together you may achieve this – and this feeds into the points below.

    2. Empower them to practise outside classes more

If your lessons are the only English input they get, progress will be slow. Can you get their agreement to do something between classes? Even learn new vocab ready to use it, listen to fun and short YouTube clips ready to re-tell the story/scene/song meaning? You could have them translate a joke or anecdote into English ready to share next time. Ideally, students will be independent learners and accessing English outside class anyway. If they don’t have that mindset quite yet, the trick is to set short, interesting ESL homework tasks, like the ones mentioned, that they have to share in class next week. Knowing you’ll check up on this really focuses the mind.

    3. Become automatic thinkers

Building on from the above, I’m going to help students become more automatic in their English thinking. One technique I’ve learned recently is to have students attach some English thinking time to an existing habit. For example, when they brush their teeth in the morning, have them think in English about what they are going to do that day. During the evening brush, they can think about what they did. Set a new ‘English-thinking-challenge-while brushing’ each week.

If students like this idea, you could suggest other habits, such as English thinking with a morning coffee, evening meal or afternoon walk. They could think in English about what they are doing or seeing.


Next, week, I’ll share three more things I will be doing with my learners. In the meantime, even experienced teachers need a bit of tune-up –we teach best when we continue to be open to learning.  That’s part of the reason for our live Zoom Spotlight sessions, to showcase some techniques for teaching, and give teachers valuable practice time with their peers in a supportive environment.

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  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: 24/12/2020

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Super-charge your English teaching for the New Year