bored kid

Do you let your students sit in a stupor? Get blood to their brains! We want all our students alert and attentive, especially after lunch or late in the day. For students anxious about grammar or their own pronunciation, movement can help displace fear and help them relax. For learners who crave physical activity, it is important to let them move.

Here are six easy adaptations to your lessons that engage ESL students and get them moving:

  • Dialogues and role-plays: Ask students to stand even when working in pairs. Be sure to encourage gestures!
  • Speeches and reports: Encourage them to stand to deliver, rather than mumbling from where they sit. Doing this even in small groups is a great confidence-builder.
  • Jazz chants and songs: Create space for students to walk around in rhythm. If space is a problem, let them stamp and clap along from their seats.
  • Games: incorporate motion–Simon Says, Hokey Pokey, racing to the board to write an answer, double-circle questions. Games are high interest, and incorporating motion doubles their value.
  • Classroom Tasks: Ask individuals to open the window, erase the board, distribute homework, turn on a projector. You can rotate tasks, or let volunteers get their wiggles out.
  • Take a Walk: A purposeful walk makes a lesson memorable. It can be as simple as a walk around the block to notice nature and learn to write with adjective clauses or a walk down the hall hunting for count and non-count nouns.

And don’t forget the value of a conversation break — let the students move around and chat in English.

ESL students may be shocked by a class that incorporates motion. Be sure to explain your intent and let students notify you in private of any physical limitations.

You may be surprised at how quickly the energy level in your class changes when you seek ways to get the students out of their chairs. Sleepy students need stimulation, and movement is the key.

The following two tabs change content below.

Brita Butler-Wall

Teacher Educator at The School of Teaching ESL
Brita Butler-Wall is a TESOL educator at the School of Teaching ESL. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and loves teaching grammar-phobic people how to be great ESL teachers. She also enjoys writing about her Swedish heritage.