Tips and Tricks: How to make English lessons fun for students

You've noticed that your students are not as engaged as you'd like them to be in your English classes. This is something a lot of online English tutors can relate to! The thing is, learning a new language is already difficult and confusing. So when it gets boring, people lose interest altogether. Maybe it's time to shake things up a little bit.

Instead of sticking to the conventional ways of teaching students English, perhaps you should look for fun ways your students can play with English!

Workee experts interviewed Chloe Vee, a certified IELTS and TOEFL English language teacher. She also holds a bachelor's degree in psychology. 

Her passion for teaching English and 17 years of experience have led her to online private tutoring, where she teaches students of all levels and ages who want to learn English as a second language. She has taught a wide range of English classes, from beginner to advanced, from business English to daily conversational English.

Here are some fun English language teaching tips and tricks that have worked for Chloe:

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Choose English topics that interest your students

Using topics your students are interested in is a great way to get them excited about English class. Your students will have a much easier time paying attention and enjoying your lessons if they are centered on something they like. Start by getting to know their interests and which games, songs, or exercises they enjoy.

For example, If your students are crazy about dogs, you can connect with them by sharing dog-themed story books, animations, movies, and so on. During this time, you can teach your students dog-related vocabulary words like bark, puppy, and paws and encourage them to use them in sentences.

Master the art of storytelling; props, and gestures come in handy

While teaching new words, use props, gestures, and storytelling to draw your children's attention and keep them engaged. Props are physical objects that can be seen and touched. If you say the word pen while holding a pen, a connection will be formed between the word "pen" and the object. Younger children enjoy holding, touching, and imitating objects and movements.

Another excellent way to incorporate props, gestures, and storytelling is to use any doll, teddy bear, or puppet - generally, a character that we animate with our hands and give a voice to. When we animate a toy, we can use it to tell a story. Winnie the Pooh, for example, is a British gentleman who can only communicate in English. It's also an assimilation technique. While performing puppet shows with your students, you can sneak in a few words and phrases. It is not only a fun English class activity; it also works like magic.

 Encourage your students to use subtitles

If your students enjoy watching movies or cartoons, they should do so with subtitles. This is a good way to learn new words quickly, as well as to practice pronunciation. Then encourage them to watch the same movie but without subtitles. That way, they will be able to assess their progress in listening and comprehension if they can watch the movie without subtitles.

Encourage your students to use seals and labels around  their homes

Sticking labels with simple English words on furniture, food, and everyday items, as well as in the bathroom, are a fun and quick way to learn vocabulary. Then, in a simple sentence, they can try to describe each of these things by color, size, texture, and how it is used.

Use software to create fun English activities for your Kids 

Take advantage of technology to make learning more interesting for the kids. 

A good example is ESL Games Plus. This software offers more advanced interactive online videos and exercises for older kids and teens. There are many interesting games for learning vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation here. Kids are fascinated with technology, so this is a fun way to utilize "screen time" into "learning English time." 

 Include fun English activities like card games 

You have a ton of games to choose from. For example, everyone is familiar with the game BINGO. The teacher displays some images or objects to the students. The students have to find the right word and tick it off their BINGO sheets. When they tick off five correct words in a row, they shout BINGO!

Don't be boring with homework and tests

You can also give your students fun assignments like crossword puzzles or riddles or ask them to give definitions or translations of words.

You can also give tests but make them fun. So, you can give digital tests with images instead of boring tests with no images, the same question types, and no interaction. The advantage of these tests is that you can choose from various styles. Matching images to words, filling in gaps, rearranging words in the correct order, and various other activities make the test much more enjoyable for your students. 

Make use of flashcards

It's easy, simple, and fun. This helps students to repeat words over and over again until it sticks. It helps with memorization and retention. Especially for beginners who don’t even know how to read words yet. They will learn the vocabulary by identifying the picture first then the learning of reading will just follow.

Use music as a tool

Music truly is a universal language, and the best part is music is for all age grades! 

You can recommend that your older students read the lyrics while listening to music, highlight unfamiliar words, and look them up in dictionaries. You can make a playlist of nursery rhymes and songs for your younger students to help them learn, highlight new words, and figure out what they mean. Even passive listening to music can assist students in becoming acquainted with the language. Karaoke is also an enjoyable way to learn.

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Don't go overboard with correcting grammar

I believe you can let go of minor errors and allow the children to express themselves freely in return. Allow your students to make grammatical errors (as children frequently do)!

This is not to say that you should never correct your students. It's great to do so, but let's avoid getting too caught up in pointing out their flaws. Correcting too often can result in losing interest and a reluctance to speak English. Be patient even if they forget what they learned the day before or make the same mistakes. Children frequently learn through repetition. If you repeat a word or grammatical structure, they may learn the correct form on their own.

What advice can you give to aspiring ESL tutors?

To be an ESL tutor, especially a private one, you must learn various skills on your own. You have to set rules while remaining considerate of your student's needs. Establish rapport and trust with your student to have a good relationship with them. When they are satisfied, they will stick with your service. Be flexible in your teaching approaches and techniques to meet your student's needs. Time management and multitasking are skills you need to have too. As you will be the one to set your working schedule, evaluate your student's progress, make invoices for the tuition fee payments, and, most importantly, lessons.

Find a teaching platform that will suit you and your student's needs. One where you can slot your available schedule so your students can easily see your availability. It would be best to consider different payment methods for their convenience. 

Being professional is very important. Always be on time. It shows professionalism. As a result, your students will appreciate your service and will continue to book your classes.

Our ultimate goal as tutors is to assist students in becoming independent learners. So, we must constantly encourage them and be great mentors. 

Thank you, Chloe, for being with us and for supporting Workee!

Find more interesting tips on Chole's Youtube channel.

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