19 Tips & Tricks to Make Your Online English Lessons More Interactive 💻
Don’t just go through the motions with the same ‘o, same ‘o lesson plan this week. It’s time to spice up your game plan and really master the art of hosting interactive lessons—even digitally. Just because you’re not sharing a physical space with your students doesn’t mean that you need to drone on for 30 minutes at a time, feeling disappointed that your students don’t ever have any questions (yet again).
Get inspired and host meaningful, effective online English lessons when you use these interactive ideas.
Ideas for more interactive online English lessons
1. Host an online scavenger hunt.
Do they have to find new words? New websites? New photos? Whatever they’re tasked with searching for, an online scavenger hunt can be a fun and easy icebreaker.
2. Have students create a piece of art and submit it virtually.
Send your students a specific art prompt and see their masterpieces come to life! Goals can include developing a child’s fine motor skills and color coordination abilities.
3. Pull fun topics out of a fishbowl, then discuss.
The element of surprise can be pretty fun, and it can lead to some unexpectedly rich conversations between teacher and student(s). This can help students think on their feet while relieving the pressure of ideating topics.
4. Use a timer and ask lightning-fast questions.
See how rapidly your student can answer lesson-appropriate questions—or spell their new vocabulary words. Keep a chart over time to see how much their score and speed improves over time!
5. Host mock interviews for their dream job.
Require your student to “dress up” and look their most professional self while you start grilling them on their skills, their strengths, their weaknesses—and their dream job. Decide at the end if you’d hire them!
6. Group blogging.
What’s more fun than writing a blog? Writing a blog with a friend! Switch off every other sentence or paragraph to come up with a silly or serious story—together.
7. Simon Says—NEVER FAILS!!
Students LOVE when teachers get up and get moving. Give each other simple directions, like “raise your right hand,” while you mirror each other and the actions depicted. Speed up your instructions or slow them down—whatever it takes to fool your student into moving without having said: “Simon Says!”
8. Incorporate world travel themed lessons.
Incorporate fun and clever cultural details from another country—maybe yours, maybe theirs, maybe a 3rd one altogether—to liven up a boring, standard-issue lesson. Let’s say we’re doing China. You might play music in the background, theme lessons around things like kung fu (show your best move after you answer a question!), discuss the colors in a temple, or more. Go wild!
9. Use puppets.
Kiddos of all ages love to be visited by Mr. So-And-So whenever he can make an appearance! Or maybe it’s Mrs. Nesbitt? Whoever your puppet pal is, using low-cost, DIY creatures can spark interest and joy in your students.
10. Costumes RULE.
Today you’re a football player. The next time? A chef! And while your football personality and chef personality are busy, maybe your “grandma” can stand in. Dress up for your students and administer theme lessons. Not only are they more fun, they’re much more memorable—and don’t you want your students to remember their English lessons?!
11. Use masks.
Similar to our costume idea, masks can be a fun way to bring “guests” into your lessons or just to mix it up in a unique way. Bonus idea: Task your students with an art project (a la tip #2) to create their very own mask to wear during class!
12. Digital memory games.
Play tons of memory games in new ways online. Have students try to figure out “which cup the ball is in” or the name of the image on a series of cards you’ve shown them in a row.
13. Play 20 questions.
Twenty questions is an old standby, but it can get a little old pretty fast. Spice up the regular game by adding categories—such as nature, people, etc.—to help laser focus the lesson more quickly.
14. Props on props on props!
Time to start building up your arsenal of adorable, helpful props to incorporate into your online English teaching lessons. Some agencies will help fund these investments up front, but if you have to fork out your own dinero, try to find props that can work across genders, ages, and skill levels.
15. Have multiple students? Host a Q&A.
Have student A ask student B a question, then student B ask student C a question on the same topic! Challenge students to quantify their inquiries (i.e. “What are your three favorite games?”) or to only ask questions that can’t be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
16. Show and tell.
Switch up this old-school activity by giving themes and more directions to students on what to bring this week. Their favorite snack? Their favorite book? Maybe a favorite TV show or video game? Whatever it is, make sure students, likewise, prepare 3-5 sentences to share about their item in advance. They can read it to the group/to you!
17. Another one for multiple students: Ask the audience
Poll your group of 3-4 students to rank their preferences or find out normal activities in their day to day (i.e. “Who brushes their teeth before breakfast versus after?”). It’s fun to create common ground and random bonds not only between you and your students but also between the students themselves!
18. Play a PG version of “Never Have I Ever”
Once you leave the sexy-time questions behind, this game can actually be a great way to make your online English lessons more interactive. Find out who has gone to certain cities, who has ridden a rollercoaster, who has a pet, and more. It’s a fun icebreaker with never-ending questions!
19. Roll a dice to determine your next activity.
Make a list of six possible activities or English-related tasks (i.e. ask a question, write a sentence about your day, etc.), then roll the dice to see which one fate has in store. Kids love the excitement—even when it lands on their least favorite activity.
More ideas and resources
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel—get even more interactive online English lesson planning ideas from these great websites:
Say ‘bye bye’ to boring, stale online English lessons
Don’t get in a rut—if you’re not feeling inspired as a teacher, your students are definitely not feeling inspired either. That’s why it’s helpful to regularly review interactive online English lessons like these. They keep the creative juices flowing and build more rapport between teacher/student—essential in a virtual relationship like yours!