Published 13th October 2017

Have you ever walked into your classroom with a feeling of dread, because you have a feeling your lesson is going to be pretty boring? Maybe it’s the end of term and you feel like you’ve run out of steam and have exhausted all your “fun” activities. Maybe you’re scheduled to teach the present perfect, which you’ve taught a thousand times and your heart sinks at the thought of teaching it AGAIN. Maybe you’ve been asked to teach a cover lesson for a colleague who called in sick and you’re all out of ideas.

If we’re honest, this happens to all of us at some point when we are teaching English as a Foreign Language. And if this is how we, as teachers, feel, can you imagine how your students must feel? Your students will easily pick up how you are feeling and reflect your boredom or frustration, and there’s nothing worse than a classroom full of unmotivated students!

So there’s no question that you need to sort out your lesson plan before you step into the classroom, but if you’re feeling this way you probably need to add more motivational activities. By now you’re probably familiar with the theories behind motivation from your TEFL course, but have you thought carefully about how you can put them into action?

Well, think no more! Here are three of our favourite classroom activities which are flexible enough to use with a range of language aims.

Pairwork/groupwork

A lot of the time in the EFL classroom, coursebook activities require our EFL learners to work individually. When you think about it, reading, listening, writing, looking up words, all of these are common classroom activities and yet they are often done individually.

One way to mix things up a bit and make the lesson more stimulating is to make activities like these into pairwork or groupwork activities. Working together in pairs or in groups naturally requires communication so your learners will chat to each other in order to accomplish the task. This makes the activity more fun and engaging for your learners, and thus more motivating.

Songs and videos

Using multimedia should be second nature to us now, but we can also utilise music and videos even if we are not having a listening or video lesson. Learners love any excuse to put down the coursebook and songs and videos give us the perfect opportunity to do just that. You can use songs to present or practice a new language point or videos to introduce or discuss a topic. We know learners enjoy listening to music and watching TV or films in their spare time, so bring them into the classroom for some extra motivation.

Keep It Real

We really can’t say this enough: relate the classroom to their real-world experiences to create a link between English and their lives. Utilising authentic texts and focussing on topics which your learners find interesting will make them more keen on learning the language. As soon as your learners realise they can use what they learn in the classroom in their own lives, they’ll be much more motivated to turn up and pay attention.

Remember: your students won’t be motivated if you’re not, so make sure your lesson topics and activities are interesting to you or else your boredom will be contagious!