May 4

FIVE ways to liven up your English language classroom

classroom management
Need to liven up your classroom?
If you're feeling that your class is a little...dull... here are FIVE tried and tested ideas to inject some energy and engagement.
Video transcript

We’ve all been there- you’re not sure why but the classroom feels a bit…. DULL. There’s a bit more staring out of the window than usual, there’s a bit less enthusiasm in answering questions, no one is smiling… what can you do?

My feeling is that our primary purpose in the classroom is to teach- that’s why we’re called teachers… not to entertain, BUT no one can learn whilst they’re asleep, so it IS part of your job to engage learners and help motivate them.
Want some ideas to inject a bit more ‘sit-up-and-take-notice’ into your classroom. I’ve got five for you- yes FIVE so keep watching!

I’m Jo Gakonga, I’m a teacher educator and I’ve been a CELTA trainer and assessor for over 20 years. I’ve also got a website at where I make video based support material for English language teachers at all stages of their careers.  Check it out and if you like this, give it a thumbs up and subscribe, I make a new video every week.

OK- five ideas- here we go with number 1

#1: Don’t curb your enthusiasm
You don’t have to be all-singing-all dancing in the classroom, but classes tend to mirror the mood you’re in, so if you want happy learners, be YOU but on a good day- on an enthusiastic day. Even if you’re not feeling it, it’s amazing how you can fake it ‘til you make it with this one. Stand up, shoulders back to look confident, smile, make eye contact and shine!

#2. Pair Up Power
A quick and effective way to liven up an atmosphere is to get the learners talking- and in a language class, it’s also really pedagogically sound, so win:win. Give them a task in pairs, even if it’s a quick discussion question. Get them thinking and talking and engagement levels will rise.

#3 Get Physical
Sometimes, just sitting in a classroom for a length of time can lower concentration levels and MOVING can make a big difference. Get them up and stretching, or how about a running dictation? One person in a pair is the runner- reads part of a text and goes back to dictate it to their partner. Repeat until they’ve got it all and the first pair wins!

#4. Games and competition
That leads me on neatly to my next idea: games and competition. It’s amazing how injecting a bit of friendly competition into a class can liven things up, particularly if you use team games. How about a round of Backs to the Board to recycle vocabulary? Split the class and ask them to name their own teams (animal names often works well). One person from each team sits with their back to the board and you write up a word or phrase that you’ve had recently in class. The rest of the team have to explain the word to their team mate. First one to get it wins a point.

#5: Get Personal
Final idea- remember that the easiest thing to talk about and the thing we’re all most interested in is firstly ourselves (you know it’s true!) and secondly, other people. Get them to talk about something that’s happened to them or their own opinions on a topic. If you know your class well and they feel comfortable with each other, things that didn’t go so well (like their worst holiday) or opinions on more controversial issues will usually provoke more lively discussions. Try it.

OK- that’s it. Five ideas for you. I hope they’re helpful. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any other fail-safe ideas for livening things up and keeping your learners engaged.

Created with