Maintaining Students Interest in the EFL ESL Classroom

When we at Successful ESL first started teaching ESL classes, one of the very first things that we learned was the alarming student drop out rate, even when you have a good curriculum. There are always those that think it would be real cool to speak English, but lose interest when they find that there is a certain amount of hard work involved. These people often quit after just a few lessons. The challenge for the teacher is: “How am I going to motivate my students so they will keep coming to class?”

Measuring Achievement

The most important answer to that question is achievement. Students must feel that they are making progress, or they will become discouraged. Your ESL curriculum should have frequent tests. Rather than dreading these tests, students soon learn that they can be used as a learning tool. If a student can make a mark in the 90’s, they will feel confident, and then study their test to see where they made their mistakes.


There are always times when a class becomes restless, and doesn’t seem to be responding well to what is said. This is the time to be flexible. We often prepared some fun activities and put them in a file folder which we took to class. When the class seems out of sorts, stop what you are doing and do a fun activity. It is surprising how quickly the tone of the class will change. You will find that students who were discouraged and restless are suddenly having fun, (and learning lots of English in the process.)

Small Group Work

An ESL curriculum should include lots of small group work. Students always enjoy working in a small group with their friends. There are many activities available for sale, and many free ones that are to be found in blogs.


Some students really enjoy role-plays. We had a class once that asked if they could delay presenting their role plays till the next class, so that they could bring some props and costumes with them next time. While the students are preparing their role-plays, it is a good idea for the teacher to get around and do some corrections on their scripts, so that the class will be hearing correct English during the “production”.  Introducing Role Play    Suggested Verb Tense Role Play

 Bingo Games

Bingo games are a perennial favorite, and at the same time a very good learning tool. If your ESL curriculum does not include these, they can be purchased separately.

 Picture Activities

Cut unusual pictures from magazines, and stick funny captions on them with computer labels. Divide the class into groups of three or four, and give each group one of the pictures. Ask them to make a short story, based upon the picture and the caption. After a set period of time ask that a spokesperson for each group read out their story. These are always fun, and it is surprising the vocabulary that the students will find in their dictionaries.

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Modified: July 24th, 2018 July 24th, 2018
Published: July 24th, 2018

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