Studying English online doesn’t sound extraordinary nowadays. I used to teach individual students via online platforms but I’m currently working with groups. To be honest, I like it more. Anyway, lots of teachers are afraid of teaching online (especially if there is more than just one student), they say it’s hard to hold students’ attention, they easily get distracted, can start playing on their mobile phones and teachers can’t do anything as they are not physically in one room. We’ll explain how to behave and what to do to avoid the absence of attention. 

1. Don’t forget about your lessons’ structure. If they aren’t planned in advance, it will be a mess

Setting a mood for a lesson is extremely important. You should start from a dynamic warm-up. Let your students share their news. Don’t forget to use grouping strategies (e.g. social skills development, face-to-face interaction — we’ll talk about it later). If you change the type of activities, it’s good both for the brain and the lesson’s atmosphere. Students shouldn’t feel really tired. 

2. Use colorful and interactive materials

If you talk about some abstract things without visualization it will be hard to hold students’ attention. I recommend you to make presentations and choose bright pictures. Check how we make it in Skyeng Speaking Clubs:

How to hold students’ attention (online groups)
How to hold students’ attention (online groups)

If you have your personal logo and design, your material will look even better.

The worksheets are also great. I use them in a context of holidays, e.g.:

How to hold students’ attention (online groups)

They help to visualize what you’re talking about and give a chance to diversify your tasks. Using worksheets, you make the material much more interesting for your students and more convenient for you (all the pictures, questions and links are at the same place).

Too lazy to create them? Just open our blog and find one that you need. There are also some other resources like iSLCOLLECTIVE and English 4-Kids.

Video tasks can also help to solve the problem with students’ attention. Let them read some questions before watching. They will be concentrated on what you’re doing.

How to hold students’ attention (online groups)

Whiteboard is also great. It helps to integrate an offline technique which is really effective and holds their attention on what you’re explaining. If you work using Zoom, it’s already integrated. If you share your screen in Skype, you can use Paint as a whiteboard. Anyway, there are special online whiteboards suitable for teachers like Whiteboard Fox. All you need is to click “create”, and then you can draw whatever you want. There are many opportunities e.g. choosing a pencil color, erasing and adding pictures. I usually practice playing “guess the word” using a whiteboard. A teacher (or a student) draws the word without naming it. The opponent has to guess the word itself.

3. Play games

Imagine yourself being a student. You’ve just come back from work, you have spent hours in traffic, you’re really exhausted. What do you want from your English lesson? Yes, something cool and interesting. If it’s not, they will be distracted. Gamification is a perfect strategy for improving your lesson and making it funny.

“Hangman”, “Crosses and naughts”, “Alias”, “What? Where? When?” everything depends on the level you students have (find out more ideas here: Online teaching tools for vocabulary practice).

I usually practice games at the end of the lessons as a cool down. Students feel relaxed and even adults are always engaged.

4. Ask everyone. Call them by names

We know there are really talkative students and there are those who talk less (they may be shy or smth). Breakouts really help teachers. Zoom (the app I’m working with) allows you to divide students into pairs and connect their groups one by one (you can listen to them and correct their mistakes in a chat). Dialogues make even introverted students talk. They have no chance, anyway 🙂 But still, it shouldn’t be off-topic discussions, you should send some questions to your students. I usually combine them with controversial statements they have to agree or disagree with. It’s much more thought-provoking than just a question. It’s also important to change partners. People should meet new people every other time. It’s interesting, dynamic and useful for improving their listening skills.

5. Mind your intonation. It’s a strong instrument

Using your voice properly will definitely help to focus students’ attention on what is really important. Use an expressive, sincere voice to encourage students. The rise and fall of volume helps maintain interest for all students. As a teacher, you have the ability to change the atmosphere in your room with your voice. Remember every lesson is like a short play and you’re an actor here. Don’t forget about the sense of humor lectures are boring.

6. Use some tricks

Holding students’ attention online is harder. You can’t touch them, by the way, but there are some other techniques here.

“What did I say?” is the easiest way to check whether the student is listeria to you carefully. Use this phrase if you see someone who is distracting. 

Ask students to repeat your/speaker’s phrases in order to improve their pronunciation. It will definitely hold their attention.

I practice one more exercise which helps to improve poor memory. I ask students to tell what their partners have just said during breakouts. Those who have tried it once know I will probably give this task and I’ve noticed that they’re more attentive next time.

The last, but not the least: 

7. Let your students be themselves

Lots of them have chosen online lessons because they want to stay in their comfort zone. Some of mine like drinking wine, driving or just playing with their cat while studying. Tell them they should mute themselves when they aren’t talking and «relax, take it easy». Doing what they are used to do will help students to study effectively.

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Комментарии (2)
  • Фото аватара

    Здравствуйте, мне 70лет, учительница английского языка на пенсии, могу ли я преподавать?

    • Фото аватара
      Мария Короткова

      Здравствуйте! Для нас важны ваша квалификация, методические навыки и готовность изучать новое, в частности, нашу платформу Vimbox. Так что вам непременно стоит подать заявку, попробуйте! Пожалуйста, заполните заявку по ссылке и пройдите тест)


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