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Blog > Classroom > Maintaining engagement with students

Maintaining engagement with students

20 Apr 2017
Written by Nell Shotton


Nell Shotton

A big challenge when teaching is the range of abilities within one class. Almost all my students in South Korea had studied or lived abroad for at least a year, so overall, their levels of English comprehension were extremely high. However, in each class there were at least a handful of students that had virtually no English understanding at all and it was very easy for these students to quickly become disengaged and fall behind even further. Equally, by trying to focus purely on the lower achieving students, the high achievers became disengaged and bored very quickly. I found several ways to try to tackle this issue during my time teaching.

Team work – supportive classroom environment

  • Group work was beneficial for all my students. Students who were more proficient could help the other students and everyone was motivated because nobody wanted to be letting the team down. It also took the focus off of individual students who would easily become embarrassed if they didn’t understand. Overall, I found this kept engagement and interest high.

Free speaking time at the beginning of each class

  • This gave the students with better English an opportunity to speak up and stretch themselves, which kept them motivated and engaged. Additionally, because free talking wasn’t graded and was just a low-pressure time at the beginning of the class, I found that some of the less proficient students would join in if they had interesting news from their weekend, practising speaking in a way they normally wouldn’t.

Use relevant pop culture

  • It’s a great idea to use popular culture references to engage students. However, it’s important to remain mindful that pop culture in the UK will probably not be the same as pop culture in the country you are teaching. I worked hard to find Korean cartoons, pop stars and actors that my students liked to make the lessons more engaging and relevant for them.

Written by: Nell Shotton

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