- Give Positive Feedback: Praising your students is one of the most effective and easiest ways to lift their spirits and keep them working hard. Teachers who excel at praising their students do it publicly as well as privately, both verbally and in writing. They send notes home to parents (when appropriate) and have special events during school to recognize the achievements of their students.
- Set Realistic Expectations and Celebrate When They are Met: Your students don’t have to be optimists to set unrealistic goals and expectations for themselves. No one can become fluent after only one semester studying English. And when those same students fail to meet those out of the water goals, they get discouraged. Sometimes the best thing for your students is for you to be a voice of reason. Help them understand what realistic progress looks like, and work with them to set goals that are challenging but still reachable. When students meet these goals, take time to celebrate their achievements.
- Let Your Own Excitement Come Through: Excitement is contagious, and showing your students that you are happy to be with them and guide them on their English journey will make a difference in how they view your class. Be energetic. Be creative. Have fun, and let your students see those positive feelings on a daily basis. When they see how excited you are to be teaching English to them, they will be more excited to learn it from you!
- Vary Your Teaching Methods: Little in the classroom is worse than doing the same thing day after day. When you vary what you do in class, you will find that your students are more engaged and more excited to participate. In particular, when you vary your activities to meet your students’ different learning styles, they will not only have fun but will find your teaching more effective. Try to include visual activities and oral activities. Use music and hands on activities on a regular basis. Give your students a chance to use their hands and get physical with what you are teaching. Give them time to work with others as well as individually. You will find that when you meet your students’ learning styles, they will be more encouraged about what they are learning.
- Facilitate Don’t Dominate: For some of us teachers, it is easy to dominate the classroom and the conversation with our students. Anyone who teachers has to work well with people and be comfortable with public speaking, but sometimes we go too far. If you are talking more than your students are in class, you should probably think about stepping back and letting them do more of the communicating. When students play a more active role in class and in their education, they learn faster, better and with a better attitude. The simple act of letting them talk more will boost the spirits of frustrated students.
- Make Topics Practical: Theory is all find and dandy, but when it has no basis in reality some may ask what the point is. Whenever you can, make your English lessons practical. Use real life English materials and give your students realistic scenarios. Make a point of creating opportunities for them to use the English they are learning with native speakers. You can include conversation partners in class or send your students out on creative fieldtrips around your campus. When your students see that what they are learning is practical and useful, they will be motivated to learn more.
- Show Students Their Own Successes: Even if you make goal setting a part of your classroom activities and review them periodically, some students may still need you to point out their successes. When you see students making improvements or hear of the accomplishments they have made, make a point of noticing. More than that, tell them what you see, what they have achieved and that they should be proud. Making positive observations is more than just praising your students. It is pointing out when they achieve things they don’t even see as progress.
- Get Out of the Book: Text books are great, and getting out of them every once in a while is even greater. Keep your students encouraged to use the English they are learning by giving them credit for things they do outside the classroom. Build it into your grading scale or give extra credit for real life language usage. Ask students to share when they strike up a conversation with a stranger, successfully give directions to a cab driver, read and fill out applications written in English as well as any of a number of other activities. If you like, make these type of real life language use assignments for class, and your students are sure to get a lift when they accomplish them.
What do you do to encourage