As a language teacher you probably have encountered the famous motivation problem. Sometimes students are not very inspired to learn a new language. Lack of motivation is more common in K12 levels where pupils are younger and learning languages is enforced by the education system. If this is the case, you are not alone. Many other teachers from all over the world are dealing with this frustrating challenge.
There are many different ways to motivate a student. FluentU has a good article with 5 ways to promote your students’ intrinsic motivation to learn English. Here we try to offer a new innovative way to address the problem. The solution we are suggesting in this article is more of an engagement method.
After conducting surveys and having conversations with language teachers and students, we realized communicating with another student from a different country is an effective way to motivate students. Students get excited about using the language they are learning to communicate with another person.
The enthusiasm for learning new things and the engagement improvement in the class are very visible after the first contacts. More students volunteer to speak or write in the classroom. Students start asking practical questions to improve their communication skills. They want to impress their peers on the other side.
The traditional pen pals sent each other papers in mail. Lots of people still prefer and love the idea of receiving a handwritten letter or card in an envelope. With today’s technology, other faster alternatives exist. You can simply make a card in Word, Google Docs or any other text editor of your choice and send it via email.
Here’s a way to keep the charm of a hand made card and mix it with the speed of the internet. Organize a fun activity for your class to make one or multiple handmade cards. Guide your students to introduce themselves and include their message. Then take pictures of those cards with your cell phone and attach it to an email. This way the communication is directly done by your students and the students who receive and read your cards will find them more endearing.
Let’s take it to a whole new level. Your students could practice a little oral communication too. After exchanging a couple of cards with a class and establishing a meaningful connection, you students would appreciate a face to face session. Set a date and time with the other teacher and make a free video call. Lots of applications are available and free of charge for a video conversation between the two classes. Try Skype, Zoon, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp to do so.
Connecting with another class and shaping a pen pal relationship for students is not only for learning languages. It has numerous advantages. For example you and your students are making friends by trying to make a conversation and learn how to communicate. This way you are teaching your students how to speak the language as well as how to make a friend. These friendships could last forever. You might travel and visit your pen pal and their country or host them in your hometown and show them where you live.
The connection between teachers goes beyond exchanging cards or organizing video chats. Language teachers could use a colleague oversees for exchanging methods, experiences, class activities and much more. Having a network of teachers to turn into for help when a challenge rises is priceless.
These exchanges help both students and teachers to learn about a new culture, new country and new people. Topics to write about in those letters or conversation ice breakers could be introductions to your own city, culture and traditions. These activities widens the young students horizons and opens up understanding opportunities.
After we recognized this need to connect with other language teachers to find pen pals for language students, we started talking to teachers and collect the requirements for a pen pal platform. The result is an online platform where teachers can sign up, connect with other language teachers and engage their students in a pen pal relationship or organize live video chats. It is free to use it and the sign up is very simple.
Watch this short video to see how Connect Pen pal site helps you and your students.Connect, Pen pal for language teachers
The platform recommends you a fun activity for your class so you get your students to introduce themselves and their hometown to other classes in the world. You can skip this activity and directly contact other teachers on the platform, read their students’ introductions and initiate a conversation with them.Connect, Pen Pal Platform for Teachers
A list of ESL games for teaching English to adults.