make your students talk more
How to make your students talk more in class

Hey Knowmad!

Last week I participated in Conferencia ELE, an online congress for Spanish teachers. I talked about two very interesting topics. One of them is about how to use short films in class and the other one is about how to make your students talk more in class. Today I’m going to write about the latter.

Have you ever had shy or demotivated students? If your answer is yes, then you must know how difficult making them talk can be.

The aim of this post is to provide you with some ideas to motivate your students to speak more in class so that your lessons become more fun and engaging.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. Find out your students’ interests

Each student is a different individual with different likes. If you know what your students like, you can try to talk about their favourite topics or use them as a context for any kind of exercise. It’s magical.

I have a student whose life is really hectic. He is always very tired because he works long hours, commutes for at least 2 hours a day and also has a baby. At the beginning of the class, his eyes are always half open and he doesn’t say much. As soon as I start introducing one of his favourite topics, wine or football, his eyes open fully and I don’t even have to ask him questions, he’s ready to speak for hours!

2. Find out your student’s learning preferences

Each of your students has different abilities and hobbies. If you know about them, you can teach them better in class and guide them to practise efficiently at home.

Do they like music? Then you should work with songs in class and also recommend them to listen to certain songs and use applications or websites where they can find activities to practise with music.

Reading? Recommend them books, blogs, comics…Do reading activities in class.

Writing? Stimulate them with creative writing workshops.

Do they like watching videos, series or movies? Prepare audiovisual exercises for class. Recommend them series and videos to watch.

Help them find those ways of self-learning that are more fun, effective and efficient for them.

You can start finding out about all this since the very first class. We all use activities to break the ice and get to know our students on the first day. Take advantage and write down everything they say about them. Don’t forget to ask them about their hobbies and about their favourite class activities. Those two answers will help you plan the next lessons.

In addition, you can write a report at the end of every class and note down, among other important things, everything they have told you about themselves. The more you know about your students, the more you will make them feel that they are special and that you care about them.

online teacher
Show interest in your students

3. Invite your students to talk about themselves

As far as they are concerned, they know all the answers. Invite them to talk about their experiences, family, friends, city, country, culture, gastronomy, trips, opinions…

If they are shy, you can always say something about yourself to set an example and even show them a language sample to follow so that they know which expressions and vocabulary to use.

Most of us love talking about ourselves, our country and our trips.

If there is something your students feel proud of, let them talk about it.

I’m sure they will also be curious about you and your life so let them ask you questions as well.

4. Built a close relationship

The closer your students feel to you, the more confident they will be to speak in class.

Since you will annotate everything they tell you about themselves in your report, when preparing the next lesson, the first thing you should do is to have a look at it. Then, if there is something important they have done between classes such as an exam, a family gathering, a match or so on, ask them first thing at the beginning of the next lesson.

If there is nothing so important you can still ask how their day or weekend has been. This simple technique makes the students feel that you listen to them and that you are interested in their lives. You will make them feel very special.

On the other hand, since you are working at home, show them your house, introduce them to your family and pets and ask them to do the same.

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5. Use audiovisual support

Unless your students don’t really like it, I recommend you to use a variety of multimedia activities in class. They are very stimulating.

There is an endless list of videos on Youtube you can use. You can also create your own homemade videos.

Work with short movies or long movies scenes. They can be complemented with many kinds of exercises.

Pictures are a good option too. Your students can describe them, guess what’s happening or say their opinion about the topic suggested. You can take your own photos to the class or ask them to bring theirs.

6. Play games

It will depend on your students. Some don’t like to play games but most of them do. Use gamification in your classes to make your classes more fun and engaging. Be creative and use your imagination to come up with cool new games in every class.

7. Variety please!

Don’t do the same all the time or your students will run away. Again, it always depends on each student’s preferences but most people need changes to stay focused and motivated.

Use objects, games, videos, texts, recordings, brochures, pictures…anything that could interest your students.

8. Remind them of their achievements and objectives

In order for them not to lose their motivation, it’s always a great idea to remind them, from time to time, what they have achieved so far but also why they started. Looking back will make them realise their progress and remembering their ultimate objectives will motivate them to keep making an effort.

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Your turn! What do you think about this list? Is there anything you would like to add?

Do you have any complicated case you would like to share with us? We may help you!

Please share your ideas and experience leaving a comment here below.

Finally, if you’ve found this post useful, please help me reach more teachers by sharing it in your social media. You will make me really really happy:) Thank you!

I've been teaching Spanish and English since 2010. I moved online in 2016 and since then I enjoy my job much more because I have more control of how I live and work. Now I want to share all my knowledge and experience to help others follow the same path so that they can become independent digital entrepreneurs.

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