When ESL teen-agers arrive in the classroom it may be the first class of the day so they will be interested and ready to attend. That’s the best teaching time. There are other times of the day, such as the time before lunch or the latter part of the afternoon when they are tired and their energy level is low. Whereas these times are the most difficult, motivating some teen-agers in an English second language class can be difficult at any time of the day. This article offers tips for getting these young people involved in your program.
Often these are teen-agers who are sent to English second language classes by their parents. These young people may resent attending because they are missing another activity that is more important to them. Students who don’t care about learning English can affect the enthusiasm of the entire group. Interesting content is vital for any program. Many of them come to class after their regular school day. Four o’clock or sixteen hours is a low energy time as they may not have had a chance to get a snack of any kind before arriving. Some come at six or seven o’clock (eighteen or nineteen hours). This is a little better if they have had a chance to relax and get something to eat before class but it’s possble that they would rather be doing something else. Solve this problem by giving them something that is fun to do.
How Can We Get Them Interested?
Find some topics – sports, clothes, movies etc. - that many or most of the class are interested in. Have a question and answer time at the beginning of each class. It will provide an opportunity for you to get the students talking about things that are important to them. This activity has been rated as the most helpful by hundreds of classes in several different countries. If your teacher’s guide supplies some questions, it is best to adapt them to meet the needs of the class, while also asking some of the listed questions that introduce or review the vocabulary. In this way you can follow the interests of the students.
Small group activities are another way to maintain interest. Teen-agers usually form groups with their friends. They feel free when they are talking with them and although they may not be excited about learning English, they like to talk. Laugh with them and remind them to speak English!
The whole class activity provided in the article “Getting English Language Beginners Started” is an excellent one for getting everyone involved. Teen-agers respond to the competition – it’s important to them that their team wins.
Games are great motivators.
Word Bingo is a game that should be saved for the last ten or fifteen minutes of the ESL time. With young students particularly, they all become involved in listening and working to win. Word Bingo is a great teacher and motivator. Look for programs that provide these games as a part of the program or separately.
In general, activities that involve small group interaction, active participation in whole group activities or some form of competition provide the answer for maintaining a high level of interest in an English program.