While lecturing has been acknowledged as a very wide spread teaching style throughout the years, nowadays it has proven to be not as effective as it seemed, due to the development of technologies leading to a different conception of the concept of learning.
The term “interactive teaching” has been appearing here and there for already quite a long time and a number of teachers have been trying to use those methods to achieve better teaching results, more participation on the part of the learners, and a more friendly environment in class. The basic idea of this type of teaching is that without practical, hands-on experience with covered material, students are having difficulty in remembering the information, not to mention using it in actual, real-life situations.
There are several benefits that “interactive teaching methods” bring along. This approach gives the students a chance to:
- Keep track of the students’ performance and measure their learning. This can be achieved through peer checks, on-site observations on the students’ progress, on-job studies like role plays and more.
- Involve students in the learning process and keep them responsible for it. This means to shift the interaction from teacher-student(s) to student-teacher and student-student where students learn more from each other.
- Provide more practice. Identifying the weaknesses of the students and adapting the material to serve their learning needs is the best way to ensure the assimilation of the covered information.
- Encourage the students to do more. When learners feel involved in the process, they feel more present and responsible for their progress and hence are motivated to do more and achieve better results. They see the improvement and strive for more. This is human nature which should be triggered especially when working with young learners and teenagers.
Five Techniques to make the class more interactive
Though there are a lot of ways to prepare and deliver interactive language sessions, here are the ones that I have been using during my group classes.
This can vary based on the target of your class and the skill you want to develop. There can be group/pair brainstorming sessions if you are thinking of developing team working skills.
To do this, you can simply assign the group a task “Your school has decided to make some changes in the curriculum. Brainstorm some ideas that they can use.” For working people it’s easier. I normally use topics like “Your company wants to organize a team building event. Brainstorm some ideas that can be used.” This is a very nice way to generate ideas and can be used as a survey technique as well.
Another type of brainstorming is the individual one. Here, the students need to come up with their own ideas around a topic, then compare with a partner and then present to the rest of the class. The topics can be as varied as you need. It all depends on the material you are covering.
The most important thing in the brainstorming exercises is to encourage the students to get as creative as they can and let them know that there are no wrong ideas.
If you are dealing with a big group, which normally is the case with language lessons, you need to make sure you are using the class time effectively and are keeping everyone involved at the same time. This can be quite difficult considering the fact that learners are different, learning styles are different and student assimilation paces are different as well.
The best way to do this is to differentiate tasks between quick and slow learners. It is not as hard as it seems. It is challenging and needs a little preparation, but it serves the purpose very well by saving class time and keeping students motivated. An example of a differentiated task can be something like this:
Strong Pair/Group – “Globalization; come up with as many pros and cons as you can to present to the rest of the group”.
Weak Pair/Group – “Globalization; come up with 2 pros and 2 cons to present to the rest of the group”.
Getting students talk can sometimes be quite challenging considering the fact that they may not be in the mood or are the quiet type. Forced debates get even the shyest one speak though.
Divide the students into 2 teams; Team 1 agrees with the statement, Team 2 disagrees.
The topic can be something like “The Internet kills real communication”. The groups have 2 minutes to brainstorm ideas on the topic and choose a person who will present their ideas. When the time is up, students from both groups face each other and present their arguments. You might also allocate time for counter arguments if the there is a lot to say about the topic. Anyway, make sure that with each topic a different student takes the role of the speaker.
This is the type of thing that gets everybody moving. Who doesn’t love games? At any age, people like having fun and if we can combine learning with playing, then the result is guaranteed.
There will be teachers who think games are too childish and do not assist the learning process, however, if staged well they are definitely useful. The thing is, when creating a game, we should always keep the educational outcome in mind.
Games that always help me cheer the classroom atmosphere up are;
- Kahoot – great for vocabulary revision. You can read more about it here.
- Jeopardy – good for revision activities. Here is the link where you can create your own game or use the existing ones.
- Vocabulary recycling games – these get the students moving and revising at the same time. You can read more about it here.
- Role plays/simulations – great to put the students into real life situations and practice real life skills using the target language.
To make the classes more interesting, varied, fresh and modern, using technology is of great help. Some of us dislike it, as it sometimes takes a lot of time to navigate, it can distract the students, we spend time preparing some activities online, etc. However, this is where the world is going. To begin with, we can go with a simpler stuff.
- Mentimeter – this platform gives you an opportunity to create some polls, quizzes, interactive presentations, etc. Some part of it is free, but it can be upgraded to a billable one with more options. You can explore the platform here.
- Padlet – another nice way to create interactive presentations, polls, teacher-student questions, etc. You can read more about it here in our article.
- TubeQuizard – a nice way to boost listening comprehension through quizzes based on real video material. Read more here.
- Flipgrid – a great tool for speaking practice, fluency and more. Here you can find more about the usage and the type of activities.
- Word Cloud – a nice tool for brainstorming activities.
These are just some tools that can be applied in class. They require very little or no preparation, but can change the mood in the classroom. This is because we constantly need to refresh the students from the routine and keep it interesting for them, so that we don’t have to deal with motivational issues later on.
Please let us know what other tools you are using to keep your class more interactive.