Teaching online can be a challenge. It can be difficult for teachers to keep students engaged, manage class time, and ensure everyone is motivated to reach their educational goals. But with the right tools and techniques, online classes can really be enjoyable for both teachers and students alike.
There are lots of user-friendly and fun online platforms that can help English learners master their language skills. So, which should you be incorporating into your classes? Here are our top picks to boost student learning and engagement.
Kahoot! is great for distance learning and self study. It’s a platform that gives teachers the tools to create their own quizzes based on grammar or vocabulary. Teachers can also search for pre-made games designed by other education professionals – such as these ones on homophones, phrasal verbs and articles. There are even games on Kahoot! created by teachers to use with our exam preparation course Gold.
So how does it work? Teachers can host games live on their computers or challenge students to complete them on their own time. To get started, learners enter a pin number on their personal devices, gaining access to a virtual games room. Here they compete against their classmates for points and streaks, and their scores are featured on the teacher’s leaderboard. Kahoot! also features funky background music – which definitely adds to the fun for younger students!
Kahoot! is excellent for consolidating information, and when learners answer in real time, it allows for what the creators describe as ‘campfire moments’. These are moments of discussion and debate, where teachers can contribute to the conversation and correct errors where needed.
For an alternative to Kahoot!, check out Quizizz. The music and interface are also a bit more modern – which makes it slightly more suitable for older teens and adults.
2. Lyrics Training
Thanks to Lyrics Training, learning English through music has never been easier (and more fun). The platform is particularly helpful for teachers who want to teach their students new vocabulary or help learners improve their listening skills in an enjoyable, immersive way. Teachers can use Lyrics Training as a distance learning tool by sharing their screens live from home, or sending students a link to practice as homework.
Lyrics Training takes music videos from YouTube and asks learners to fill in the blanks while concentrating on the lyrics. This tests learners’ ability to listen carefully, as well as read and write quickly in time with the music. Teachers can select the level of difficulty and how they want their students to fill in the blanks – either by writing down the vocabulary or selecting multiple choice answers.
Lyrics Training is free, and also enables teachers to upload their own favorite lyrics to create custom exercises. There’s even a special karaoke mode, which is brilliant for younger learners. So, why not sing some karaoke together as a treat at the end of class?
Quizlet is a simple tool for memorizing vocabulary. It features more than 140 million sets of flashcards for teachers to choose from. But the platform also enables teachers to customize or create their own, making it easy for them to share flashcards with their class via link or on Google Classroom.
Teachers can use the flashcard to explore definitions, look at examples of how they can be used in a sentence, and drill pronunciation and intonation as a group. With each set of flashcards there are nine different study modes – giving teachers the choice to test students on things like writing, spelling, or memory, etc.
Quizlet is a great revision tool, allowing students to create their own flashcard sets from home and share them with their classmates. It also offers games – such as a simple matching or gravity game – for students to play individually. And if that’s not enough, there’s a collaborative classroom game with Quizlet Live, which groups students into teams and encourages them to communicate and work together to guess the correct answers. Watch this video for how it works:
Many of the features are free, but paying for the premium service for 10 USD/month will let you incorporate music, videos and live audio recordings into your lessons. Quizlet Plus is currently offering a free 30 day trial for all teachers.
Storybird is a lovely way to boost younger students’ reading and writing skills. Essentially, it offers a community for storytelling – where students and teachers can write their own books online and share them with other readers.
Storybird offers a curated collection of artwork for users to base their stories around. These can be simple picture books or longer stories, making the platform great for young learners and adults alike.
The platform works well as a distance learning tool because it doesn’t require any audio capabilities. Learners can read, reshare, comment and ‘heart’ other people’s work. There’s even an option to collaborate on stories. And if all that isn’t enough to get those creative juices flowing, Storybird includes curriculum guides and courses for additional support.
Teachers can sign up for a 7 day free trial here. After this, Storybird offers a monthly plan for 8.99 USD/month or yearly plan for 4.99 USD/month.
Student’s physical health and emotional well-being is a top priority – especially if they’re spending long periods of time studying at home.
That’s where GoNoodle comes in. It promotes mindfulness and movement videos for all school subjects, and is a fantastic tool to use with kids and teens. It promises to help them be their bravest, silliest and smartest selves, with cool music videos, educational rap songs, and brightly dressed presenters.
Live stream the videos over your shared device and get the whole class up to dance. Incorporate it into your online lesson as a reward or study break. And if your computer doesn’t have the capabilities to screen share, teachers can send students the link for homework.
Most of the videos on GoNoodle are free, with the option for additional activity packs and games for teachers to download and send to students. Teachers can also opt for GoNoodle Plus for 10 USD/month and test a 30 day trial for free.
So, if you’re new to this online teaching business, don’t panic. Enjoy the wealth of resources the internet has to offer – because they’re there to make your lives a bit easier, and provide a little light relief for your students. And who knows? You might have some fun yourself!