The traditional class of nine-to twelve-year-olds was always having trouble organizing itself into neatly lined up teams for the next activity. I had already given them flags denoting the names of their teams and had written the team names on the board. When one team finally managed to form a line, I burst out, “Look at the Orange team! What a nice line! You get a point!” The chalk mark on the board riveted the attention of the other teams. “And you’re quiet. One more point!”
In seconds, the other two teams magically lined up and stood at attention like soldiers. “Wow, look at the Purple and Green teams! You all get one point! And everyone is so quiet. One more point!” Everyone was energized and focused before we even started the game.
Teachers in an online ESL job bring to the classroom their personal visions of what education and relationships between people should be, and rules can be one way of communicating these expectations and values between teachers and students. Clarity, consistency, and commitment to help ensure that the communication is effective while having a variety of strategies for implementing (or enforcing) rules can help students come to believe in those values and expectations as well.
In an online ESL job, students’ response to the rule and/or its follow-up should be respected as one way in which they are communicating with you, and the time and effort you spend in working to understand their language(s) will definitely be worthwhile.
Engage with your students’ special occasions and interests.
On a related note, in an online ESL job, many American teachers develop special activities for holidays— Halloween, Passover, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and so forth — as well as American pastimes — baseball, and lemonade stands. Ask your students to share their own holidays and interests, and incorporate these ideas into your classroom. One of the best ways to get a child or adult talking is to ask them about their personal life. Whipping out a handout that includes something that relates meaningfully to their lives will strengthen their interest in the classroom community and the material itself.
Use scaffolding techniques to help students accomplish tasks.
Scaffolding is the support given during the learning process that is tailored to the needs of your students. Since ESL learners generally need a new kind of support, it can be helpful to think of scaffolding as divided into three categories:
- Verbal scaffolding: slowing speech, enunciating words, paraphrasing, rephrasing, using “think-aloud,” etc.;
- Procedural scaffolding: one-on-one teaching, coaching, modeling, small-group instruction, partnering, and pairing; and
- Instructional scaffolding: use of pictures, regalia, graphs, graphic organizers, audio-visual aids, and so forth.
Being aware of how you use these tools in the classroom can help you better plan for the needs of your students. Eventually, the goal is for the student to figure out the task at hand on their own and no longer need the additional support.
Maximize inter-student interaction.
Cooperative learning is proven to be effective for ESL learners. Students see the teacher as the authority figure. Getting them to speak in front of you or in front of the whole online group class can be difficult, but they usually feel more comfortable interacting with their peers. Ask your students to teach one another simple playground games if you’re teaching a group online class, like tag or foursquare. For an online ESL job, you could even have the class interact with and help each other use some of these apps for learning English as a means to facilitate conversation, learn, and have fun. When planning group or pairing activities, design different groupings depending on the needs and purposes of the lesson. This interaction gives the ESL students a chance to practice English in a less threatening setting. Although they shouldn’t feel threatened at all because you should always.
Motivating kids in an online ESL class can be tasking and be demanding, nevertheless, these few methods can help you to properly motivate kids in an online ESL class.
Happy Teaching! Teacher Daniel 🙂