Summer is here and so are English language intensive courses. Adults and teens are lining up at your classroom doors, full of enthusiasm and ready to learn English! But soon they’re staring out the windows, looking up at the bright blue skies and wishing they were on the beach, or – frankly – doing anything but studying English for the next 100 hours.
So how can you turn it around and keep your learners on track and motivated this summer?
1. Start off on the right foot
You have a lot to do in this first class. It sets the tone for the entire course and is your chance to show your students what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
In teen classes, you’ll need to spend time outlining class rules and establishing your authority. You can do this by coming up with a class contract together and getting everyone to sign it. Although it’s summer and you want to have a good time – remember to stay firm and use an authoritative voice – at least for the first week or two.
With adults it’s essential that they leave the first class feeling like they’ve learned something. By all means start with some fun activities to break the ice but make sure they go home feeling motivated that their money was well spent.
2. Keep things personal
In adult and teen classes you’ll also need to spend some time getting to know your students.
While learning about their interests, you should also get to know about their personal and professional objectives, so you can tailor your classes to meet their needs. Do this by surveying the class early on and use their ideas to plan later classes and projects. Students always appreciate personalization – and it certainly helps keep them motivated.
3. Don’t go easy on them
Your first class should be interesting, fun and focused on breaking the ice. But perhaps more importantly it should challenge them. No one wants to take an easy course – it feels like a waste of time (and money). If your activities feel too easy, they’ll switch off, their minds will wander, and it will be very hard for you to recapture their attention.
It’s therefore a good idea to have a range of activities of various difficulties up your sleeve. If you see students are finding things too easy, you can increase the challenge.
In addition, you should always have extra work for fast finishers. Teens especially get distracted quickly, but adults will also lose interest if you’re not giving them enough to do. So make sure to mix fun, dynamic activities, with level-appropriate materials.
4. Give them something to work towards
Set your objectives early on. This includes:
- Short term objectives: What we’re going to achieve this class
- Mid-term objectives: What we’ll achieve by the end of the week
- Long term objectives: What you’ll be able to do by the end of the course and beyond
People like to know why they are doing things and how it will be useful for them. Objectives are a good reminder of this and you can help students track their progress towards their goals by giving them daily or weekly can-do statements, or by having them keep a learner journal.
5. Keep getting and giving feedback
It’s a great idea to start off every class reviewing what happened in the previous class, or the previous week. This helps students refocus and remember what they did, and sets the tone for the rest of the day. It also gives you a chance to re-establish authority with teenagers, if students were rowdy or distracted in the previous class. Go over the rules again, if necessary, and explain they’re starting over with a clean sheet.
You can also have students reflect at the end of each class, sharing what they found hard, what they learned, what they enjoyed most and what they want to do more of; this will help you continue to deliver classes that challenge and interest them during the course.
6. Mix things up
Routine is important, but so is surprise. Once you’ve established how things work and the activities and projects are well under way – turn it upside down! Take students outside. Play a game or start an inter-class competition.
It will refresh your students, re-energize them, and give them a new kind of challenge. It will also keep them on their toes and excited about what you plan next – a great motivational tool.
7. Be original
Introduce challenging themes, topical content and allow students to bring in their own articles, videos and photos. Using authentic materials alongside coursebooks is a great way to motivate students. If they see that they are able to understand and work with real-world content, they’ll increase confidence in their own abilities.
8. Follow a structure
Progress, progress, progress – without it your students will lose all motivation, even if your classes are challenging. Use a course like Speakout to support your curriculum – not only will it help you develop themes during the course, but it will scaffold language and give students a physical reminder of what they are learning and achieving.
Speakout is an eight-level course that introduces real-world English to the classroom and is suitable for beginner to advanced students. Now with two new levels – Intermediate Plus and Advanced Plus – it promises to give those students who need it more time to progress and achieve their objectives using fresh material, keeping your students motivated during the summer.
Your students will benefit from a balanced range of topics and speaking activities, as well as a firm foundation in approach to language development and skills work. What’s more, the course includes engaging video content from the BBC, designed to make teaching more dynamic.