How to Engage English Learners After a Long Break

Holiday breaks are often much needed for many of us but it can be hard to return to work and study afterwards. Read on to learn how this post-break period can affect English learners and pick up some tips on how to motivate them after a long time out of the classroom.

The Effects of Holidays

Time off from studying represents a huge distraction for young and old alike. It's normal that after a long holiday, students return to the classroom feeling sluggish and not in the right frame of mind to start learning straight away.

Fortunately, there are some strategies you can adopt to make sure this post-break feeling and attitude doesn't last and to help you reconnect with your English learners once again.

Prepare for a Fresh Start

As usual, preparation plays the most important role. Remember to time class topics and projects so that they finish before the holidays start. You and your students can then spend your break relaxing rather than worrying about about keeping certain topics fresh in their mind. If your students want to recap topics that's up to them and should be encouraged however you should start of with new concepts that don't require revision.

Encourage Self-Study

Just because you and your students are not physically present, doesn't mean the learning stops. Holidays, especially long breaks provide opportunities for students to explore their own educational interests and needs. One idea might be to set a challenge or project that can be completed over the break but that couldn't otherwise be completed in the classroom.  This keeps students learning on their own but in a fun way. For example you could set a reading and report challenge, where the students have to read one book they like in English and then write a report on it to share with their class. Another idea is to suggest an online learning course that students can follow.

By maintaining and even improving their skills over breaks, English learners will return to class ready and eager to learn.

Slowly Pick up the Pace

Eager teachers will be tempted to cram too much into the first few classes in an attempt to excite and motivate learners. But this could have a negative effect and overwhelm students who have not be used to learning for weeks or even months. Instead, ease students into the next phase of learning by having students participate in some simple activities rather than introducing tough concepts straight away. Some examples are having students retell what they did over the holidays, or playing some learning games which will get students thinking about using the English language again, without them even realising it.

After completing a few easy activities, students will be more prepared to tackle tougher exercises.

Mix It Up

Nothing hurts motivation more than the thought of a lengthy essay or assignment. To motivate students once again and keep them enthusiastic about learning English, think of innovative ideas to teach new language concepts rather than repetitive teaching and testing methods. Look to your own interests and the interests of the students to see how you can introduce ideas and topics but in a new way. Projects and activities with real-world applications are great as students easily understand the idea and will be excited to learn something they can put into practice.

Introduce Short-Term Goals

At the beginning of a new school year, it's easy for English learners to see the whole year in front of them and feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. In order for students to see the future school year in a positive light, break the time ahead into manageable chunks of short-term goals.

Reflect on Your Teaching

Taking some time during a break to reflect on your own teaching, could have a very positive effect on students after time off. Think about what was successful in the past, what and how did you enjoy teaching and what and how did your students enjoy learning? What could you do more off in your next classes and what could be improved?

If you think it's necessary to make some changes then after a break is the perfect time to implement changes as this is less disruptive than half-way through your teaching term. Often, you will find room for improvement and the excitement you bring into the classroom with these new ideas can be motivating for the student as well.

Though long breaks can be a problem, with some reflection and careful planning, English learners will enjoy coming back into the classroom to start learning again.

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