5 Teaching Tips for Explaining Things More Effectively to Your English Learners

Teachers like to talk.

Unfortunately, for our students, we often talk too much.

There is plenty of research out there showing that students only remember small portions of what they hear their teachers saying in the classroom.

Even your best students who go on pretending they are paying attention longer after they are not stop listening to you about 5-10 minutes into your lectures. If this is true in general education, then it is doubly true with English language learners.

English language learners are simply unable to stay focused for very long in their second language. I have learned three languages and I have experienced the sharp reality of mental exhaustion that comes from listening to someone lecture in a language you are still learning, and I am an adult. Your K-12 students are not so forgiving.In order to explain things more effectively to our students, we first need to cut down on the amount that we say. 

There are 2 main reasons why talking too much when you explain something is ineffective.

  1. One is efficiency. If you want your students to improve in their language development, they need to practice a lot, and when they are sitting there listening to you for long periods of time, at best they are only practicing their listening skills, and at worst they are not practicing anything at all.
  2. The other is classroom management. Students get bored when your explanations go too long. Bored students are naughty students. If they have nothing interesting to do, they create something interesting to do. Idle hands are the devil’s playground, so to speak. ELL students find even the most mundane things are a welcome relief to a constant flow of incomprehensible gibberish coming from the front of the room.

5 Helpful Teaching Tips to Help You Explain Things More Effectively

If you want to explain things more effectively to your ESL students, the #1 thing you can do is make your explanations quicker, simpler and repeatable. 

Below are 5 more helpful tips to help you do just that.

  1. 1Break up the things you need to say with short, quick reward games. 
  2. 2Get the students involved more. Have them repeat most everything that you say including important ideas, vocabulary words, or sentences. 
  3. 3Make an outline of what you want to say before class. Don’t just wing it.
  4. 4Set a timer for yourself in class. The kids will get a kick out of it. 
  5. 5Record and observe yourself and what your students are doing while you are talking. It is a fruitful if humbling experience. 
5 Ways to Cut Back on Teacher Talk

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!

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