10 Ideas To Engage Your Online ESL Students

Rachel Weiss
Career China Digital Marketing Manager
Feb 7, 2020
teach esl online kids

When teaching English to non-native speakers, it’s important to have lessons that are not only informative and helpful, but also engaging for your students! Whether you’re a first time ESL teacher, or you’ve taught in a classroom before but not online, these tips are going to help you be a fantastic online ESL teacher and make your students excited to learn English.

1. Use Fun and Interesting Visuals

A great way to keep students interested in lessons is to use visuals. Having fun photos, flashcards, and videos involved in your lesson will keep your student engaged, no matter the age.

2. Avoid Using Too Much Text

Too much text is distracting and difficult to read. Utilize your visuals and space to separate large text paragraphs. Many teachers will include links and PowerPoint presentations that students can click on to use in the lesson and also review later.

3. Use Online Resources to Your Advantage

There are many great online teaching programs and resources for teaching students online. If you feel stuck using the same format in your lessons, switch it up and see what other teachers have tried. Check out ESL Games World and Games To Learn English for some ideas and resources.

4. Make The Best Use of Your Screen Space

Even when teaching online, there are ways to incorporate technology and your computer screen space. You can use extra PowerPoints and Prezis to make interesting and engaging content, and show online PDFs and visuals you find.

5. Positive Reinforcement and Praise

Having high energy and creating a positive learning environment will do wonders for motivating your student. Encourage your student and build their confidence with your liveliness and excitement during a lesson. If they do something well, praise them. If they make a mistake, use constructive words to help them.

6. Use A Reward System to Motivate Students

There are lots of ways to reward students when they do well in class! Since you're not seeing your student in person, you obviously cannot give your student a physical prize, but there are still many reward systems to use. Whether it’s a gold star or a step-ladder system, find a way to encourage your students and keep them motivated.  

7. Be Fun and Silly!

At the end of the day, teaching online should be enjoyable for your student. Use silly voices and have them speak loudly, quietly, slowly, then fast. It’s a great way to use repetition and keep students, especially young learners, engaged and giggling.

8. Use Props

Don’t just use pictures – make it even more exciting with puppets, instruments, stuffed animals, and many other items in the lessons to create more diverse lessons. Young learners especially respond well to more engaging props!

9. Mix Up Your Teaching Format

Whether teaching young or older online students, it helps to have a diverse format. Routine during a class time is good, but mix up the games, activities, videos and discussions you do in your lesson to keep students on their toes. You can bring in other resources like TED Talks for older students to discuss, or find extra songs and funny games for young learners.

10. Utilize Multiple Communication Tools

If you are teaching older students in a group setting, it’s great to encourage interaction not only on your teaching platform, but on other communication platforms as well (as long as it is allowed within your teaching program). Discuss current events and share news articles!

Teach ESL Online

Teaching English online a great way to get teaching experience, work flexible hours, and connect with students all around the world. If it's your first time teaching, check out these Do's and Don'ts When Teaching ESL Online for the First Time.

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