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Learn Your Learners: A get-to-know activity to increase engagement in online synchronous language classes

NaN
by Eylem Öztekin İblikci | 03 Jan 2022
Resource Description: A traditional get-to-know activity adapted to increase engagement in online synchronous language classrooms.
Audience: Adult, Elementary, Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Beginner, Intermediate
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Materials and Technology: Students' own answers and related follow-up questions by the teacher, computer, internet connection and online meeting platform
Objective(s): Speaking and listening, thinking critically
Outcome(s): Students will feel connected to their peers and the teacher, which helps increase engagement in the classroom
Activity Description:

This is a whole-class activity done in the very first lesson to help the students and the teacher get to know each other. 

Before the lesson, think about how to introduce yourself. You need to find things that make you different from others. You can mention the things you like doing, hate doing and would like to do sometime. You can mention your hobbies, how you started, what you like most about it, etc. In the first lesson, introduce yourself. Let students ask some questions about you. Give them 2-3 minutes to think and encourage them to take notes. Most students tend to mention their majors as their differences. Tell them you can learn this information easily by looking at the roster. Extracting interesting information from your students can be difficult because they may not consider sharing the most interesting aspects of their personality unless they are prompted. Therefore, ask some simple questions to make them talk such as:

  1. Where do you live?
  2. Do you have brothers or sisters?
  3. What do like doing in your free time?, etc.

When you listen to them, ask some follow-up questions to dig deep. While chatting, take your notes. Do the same with each and every student. When they talk, encourage others to listen to their peers. Highlight the common points like ‘Ayşe, Mert is also into playing the world of legends. Can you tell us what do you like the best in the game?’ Upon Ayşe's reply, Mert can agree or disagree. In this way, they build a connection. Sometimes the others might also jump in the conversation and interaction begins. Building the connection between the students increases the engagement incredibly.

If your classroom has more than 10 students, this may take long. Therefore, I use the platform www.padlet.com for crowded classrooms. Prepare a post of your own as an example before the class and in the class ask your students to do the same. It is such a user-friendly platform that all you need to do is to share the link in the chat box and let students write. After giving 5 or 6 minutes to think and write, spare some time to discuss what is written on their posts. The students can edit their posts simultaneously by adding the details according to the answers you will ask. You can also ask your students to read what others have written and leave a comment on at least 3 of them.

Useful Links: www.padlet.com
TESOL Interest Section: English as a Foreign Language