Introducing ESAP: Engaging students in online classes

Teach online ESAP

A framework for teaching online

ESAP stands for Engage, Study, Activate, Practice. It’s a framework designed for teaching online – and one that is especially relevant today. It’s well worth exploring and applying to your distance courses and classes. 

So let’s take a look at how it works, break down each stage in the process and examine how it can help you to plan and deliver effective classes online.

Stage one: Engage

Our aim is to engage with our students with lesson content from the very first minute. This stage warms students up and gets them ready to learn. We activate their interest by tapping into their existing knowledge and the language they have been practising in previous classes. 

In this first stage, we should encourage learners to retrieve what’s in their memories because it connects to previous classes and helps them feel more confident during the class. So, how can we go about this?

We can, for example, do memory retrieval practice based on the common error report from MyEnglishLab.  Alternatively, we can create a more personalized learning experience for students. Here’s a quick demonstration of a personalized Engage activity in a class where the theme revolves around superlative adjectives:

  1. Bring up the chatbox.
  2. Ask students to write in what the highlight of their week has been. Tell them to include the best or most interesting thing that has happened to them.
  3. Each student should type a sentence or two in the chatbox.
  4. Next, instruct students to ask each other a few questions in open class.

This simple activity stimulates their knowledge of the topic and they can use some language they have previously learned as well.

See more ideas for the Engage stage in Lindsay Warwick’s video:

Stage two: Study

In the Study stage of ESAP, we provide input for learners and give them controlled practice activities using the Presentation Tool on MyEnglishLab and sharing the screen with students. Where possible, we should reduce our teacher talking time, as the focus should be on the students. 

In the Study stage, we recommend:

  • Varying the pace of the lesson and type of activities and keeping students as actively engaged as possible.
  • Offering peer teaching activities, if possible. In explaining something to others, students are forced to reflect on the subject more deeply, practicing their critical thinking abilities in the process.
  • Giving students enough time to think of their answers before nominating them to respond. 
  • Using the digital tools at your disposal. For example, a whiteboard can be used to give whole class feedback and the chatbox can be used for direct individual feedback.

See Lindsay Warwick’s example Study stage activity here:

Stage three: Activate

In the third stage of ESAP, we encourage students to activate the target language. You will provide feedback on their oral and written production in both controlled and freer communicative practice activities. 

In the Activate stage, there are lots of ways to go about this:

  • Start by muting all microphones in the class. This will cut out background noise and interruptions. You can always reactivate individual microphones when necessary, or ask students to unmute theirs when they have a question. 
  • Pair or group students in breakout rooms. Students can participate in any activities that they would in the classroom. Make sure to move in and out of different breakout rooms and monitor what they are doing and provide support. Students should also note down any difficulties they have while they are working so you can address them in open class. 
  • Nominate students to answer verbally, just like in a face-to-face class. You can unmute microphones and ask students to speak. 
  • Invite learners to type an answer into the chatbox. Unlike in a face-to-face class, you can ask all your students to answer at once by sending a private or public chat message. You can see and review each individual’s understanding that way. You can respond in open class, call out interesting responses and make notes on areas for improvement.

In this video, Lindsay Warwick demonstrates this in practice:

Stage four: Practice

The Practice stage happens at home, after class. This stage can involve a number of different types of activities, all designed to help them independently practice and reactivate what they learned in the lesson. You’ll review progress and any issues in the next class.

You can also use traditional ways of doing homework – asking students to write reports, answer questions, record mini videos, etc. However, the advantage of using the Interactive Environment on MyEnglishLab is that your students will encounter interactive online exercises with instant feedback – and there is a lot of time savings on your part. As a teacher you will:

  • Save time marking with automated scoring and reporting.
  • Be able to monitor students’ performance online.
  • Have the chance to see if the lesson objectives have been met.

Here Lindsay Warwick demonstrates how students can independently use MyEnglishLab at home:

Effective online classes

ESAP provides a simple framework for teaching effective online classes. Combined with the MyEnglishLab platform, teachers everywhere can save time in planning and marking, deliver engaging lessons, and measure their students’ progress. 

Find out more about ESAP. 

You may also be interested in our article – Teaching English online: we answer 20 of your top questions.

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