One of the hardest parts in an ESL class is making your students communicate , make them use their English in a meaningful context.
Tip 1: Information Gap. Let’s face it, in most questions on an ESL class the answer is not a mystery! Look at the next example:
Peter bought an ice-cream.
What did Peter buy?
Boring, isn’t it?
Students will be more motivated with challenging task where they have to find some kind of missing information. So if you want to practise simple past question like in the example above you can use a short video showing what Peter did yesterday, ask them to pay attention and try to memorize the activities and then ask them.
Tip 2: Give a context. The right context makes learning much more meaningful for the students and for us! Sadly, the use of context is not a regular practice in ESL lessons.
Some examples of easy and motivating contexts are : fairy tales, books, films or even the news. Each context has a limited vocabulary and gives a lot of clues to the students, so it makes them feel more comfortable with their master of the language.
Tip 3: Take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day! And communication relies on complex variables such as self-confidence or motivation so don’t try to run very fast. Try to find a pace that fits both you and your group.
Tip 4: Allow some time in their mother language. Students will feel more relaxed if they know that they will be able to comment on the activities and express themselves in their mother tongue at some point. So why not let them do it? The thing is to make crystal clear when they are expected to speak in English and when they can use their first language.
Tip 5: Try to use games. Games are wonderful when it comes to communication, in a way they sum up all the previous points. They are challenging for the students, they provide a context and they make the student feel motivated and relaxed.
To finish up I would like to share an example activity to boost communication at your class. It’s a classical one but I find it really handy and students also like it. You can download the activity here:
As always I hope that you find this post useful and I’m really looking forward to your comments!