Tips for making private ESL lessons interesting

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As a trainee or novice ESL teacher doing private ESL lessons, you will quickly learn that if your private lessons are dull and uninspiring – you will very soon find yourself looking for new clients, so here are a few tips for making your private lessons more interesting.

  1. Enthusiasm, passion, and empathy should be your primary concerns: be enthusiastic about teaching your students, be passionate about your subject, and empathize with your students.
  2. Use role play. This is a great way to get your students involved in using English, for example, the student can be a customer and you can be a shopkeeper. The experience can be made even more realistic by using realia: money (or even monopoly money) and various foodstuffs.
  3. Use flashcards. Flashcards are a great teaching tool for learning vocabulary: they stimulate and motivate ESL students to learn new words. You should make/buy a set of twenty flashcards for each group of classified vocabulary that you want your student to learn, e.g. animals, buildings, occupations, emotions, etc.
  4. Use online ESL games. There are lots of online ESL sites that provide games for ESL students to play. Playing games is an enjoyable way to learn a foreign language. Here are three of the numerous sites that you might like to visit: – Word Games at Merriam-Webster: This site contains numerous games that are mainly appropriate for adult ESL students or those students who are at or above level B2 of the CEFR. It uses American English. http://www.merriam-webster.com/game/index.htmLiteracy at BBC schools: This site is specifically for the ‘4-7’ and ‘8-11’ age groups: students can engage in all sorts of games that cater for grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and reading skills. This site is appropriate for both ESL students and native speakers. It uses British English. http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/games/search_results.shtml?page=0&age=7-11&subject=literacy&x=75&y=20Spelling & Word Relationships at Academic Skill Builders: This site teaches young ESL students how to spell correctly as well as how to combine words together by the use of “exciting arcade-style games.” http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/
  5. A virtual tour is another way of making your lesson more interesting: virtual tours will take you and your student to all sorts of different places. Here are four of the numerous virtual tours that you might like to take: – http://www.visitlondon.com/discover-london/london-virtual-tourhttp://www.eyerevolution.co.uk/virtual_tours/tate-modern/http://www.google.com/earth/index.htmlhttps://www.google.com/maps/views/streetview?gl=us
  6. Video films and documentaries can also make the lesson very interesting: initially, try to use videos that have L1 subtitles; as students progress, you can use videos without subtitles. Don’t forget to use cartoons for young ESL students. A good source of video material can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Don’t forget, though, every activity MUST have a clearly define ESL learning objective: don’t do activities purely for entertainment.

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