A Short Report on Motivating the Unmotivated: Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson is an experienced teacher trainer and an ELT materials author whose fame is well-known in ELT World. He shares his experience on motivating students to make them more enthusiastic about learning a new language and becoming a part of your language class in his seminar in BC London ELT Conference. These tips will give you some great ideas as  they will also inspire you to find more ways to encourage your students.

Surprise Your Students:

Ken Wilson shows us a man whose head is through a bicycle tyre and wants to learn how the audience has felt.  This interesting picture pushes the audience to verbalize their feelings, get interested in the subject and feel motivated to learn more about this man. Telling them this man actually eats the bike and asking them which part he can eat the easiest increases the level of surprise. Instead of using common pictures not arousing any surprise among our students, finding interesting materials to make them more involved can be a better way to make them more interested.

Challenge Them:

Choosing some common information found around easily and asking students for easy answers leads to loss of interest. Wilson shows us pictures of two men and asks if we know what they have in common. This question leads to the production of some guesses and the use of language to find the answer.

Avoid the Obvious:

In course books we encounter reading texts about celebrities or we tend to use their fame to get our students’ attention. However, Wilson doesn’t agree that it is as much attention-getting as we expect. As stated in the first tip, some surprise and not well-know information might involve our students better.

Devolve Responsibility:

We don’t have to be the only teacher in the class. Best students of the class might be of great help to us to assist others or quicken groupings.

Teach Unplugged:

Not always but occasionally, Ken Wilson strongly advises us to teach our students without planning, using any planned materials but only with what we have in the class and letting our students direct the lesson.

Let Your Students Use Their Technology:

Android phones and notebooks don’t have to be the enemies we have to fight against in the class. They will contribute a lot to our lesson if they are used in the right place at the right time. For example, you can ask your students to google how the weather is in a different part of the world.

Let Them Use Their Imagination:

Everyone has a different world in their minds. Using their imagination is sometimes much more important than only getting answers for questions. Let them speak and let them produce. Wilson says giving most of the possible answers as examples for a creative question won’t leave much creative thinking for our students. Give only one or two examples and leave the rest to them.

Find out What They Know and What They Want to Know:

Everyone is good at something. This can be maths, literature, cinema, cooking or anything. Wilson says knowing what our students are good at and informing our students we are aware of their strengths and even asking for assistance from them about these issues will help a lot to make them a part of the class.

Take a Break:

It is so much tiring to talk, talk and talk in the class. So, why do we talk so much as teachers when it is students who need to practice their language. Then, it is one of these great opportunities to give a break and let our students speak with a fun activity. Ask one of the volunteers his name, surname, where he comes from and his job. Ask him the same questions for the second time but ask him to answer with fake information. Then, the rest of the class can ask questions to that new personality about anything. After a while, he needs to choose someone else and ask the same questions while you sit at the back, resting and observing how they use the language.

Turn Your Classroom into a Spider Web:

The idea here is not repeating the answers given by a student in the class to clarify it to the whole class. The network of interaction should be wider connecting students to each other, not only to you. They should expect the answer from the person who is actually supposed to give this answer.




Oxford Seminar at Beykent University: Session 1

"Oxford Seminar at Beykent University"

I have to confess that it was extremely difficult to wake up in the early hours of the day, leave my warm bed and come to the university. However, I thank Meghan Beler for the great sessions she organized, they were very helpful.

First Session: Classroom Management 1

We began the session with a great “get to know” activity which I want to share here. Megan asked us to write down something which is true for as but not true for anyone else in the class on post-its. Afterwards, we sticked those post-its all around on the walls and walked around to read others’ post-its. I found someone else who spent 9 years away from her family and lived in a dormitory so I had to change that information.

Classroom management is a very-well known, mostly-discussed but most-difficult-to-do issue. I have been reading, listening to and talking about it since the first day of university education but it still sounds quite tricky.

The session started with the analysis of aspects of classroom management some of which are;

  • seating,
  • emotional environment,
  • class dynamics,
  • how we manage different parts of the lesson,
  • how to guide them through an activity,
  • building relationships,
  • using resources etc.

After revising these aspects and talking about the importance of classroom management, we discussed some important element which are important for classroom management such as using the board, handing out materials, giving instructions and asking questions.

Using the board:

  • Write the aim of the lesson at the top,
  • Have section where you write vocabulary and important information which you don’t want to erase,
  • Have ab organized board to help your students organized notes.

Handing out Materials and Interaction:

  • First give the instructions and then the hand outs,
  • Make your instructions clear, support them with examples,
  • Try to include only necessary information and use your gestures.

Asking Questions:

  • Your questions need to be balanced; information(display) or opinion(referential) questions.
  • Make your questions natural,
  • Give students time to think,
  • Encourage student questioning.