5 Effective Ways to Engage Students and Prepare for classes


I have a lot of experience teaching ESL and I have a Ph.D. in teaching English as a Second Language, BUT there are some tricks I have learned in my first few weeks at VIPKid that I didn’t know before about teaching ESL online!! These tricks may be helpful for you, too! 🙂 What I have learned can make learning online enjoyable for students whether they are hyperactive, hesitant to participate or lacking interest in a lesson.

By teacher Shannon L


  1. Get their attention when their attention is straying with ridiculous and startling sounds and facial expressions! Make noises that capture a student’s attention! GASP! Accompany the gasp with large eyes and a surprised expression! This seems to bring the student’s attention in right away.
  2. Grab the students’ attention with unexpected objects! Use puppets and other props that tie to the lesson to grab student’s attention. In one class where we were comparing sizes of objects, I used three different plastic toy airplanes that belong to my toddler! This really helped bring the lesson alive for the student-and I think just seeing another kid’s toys always interests children! 🙂
  3. Make a personal connection with students in the lesson! Because of the limited time in class, it is important to somehow build in personal connections with the student within the actual lesson. In one lesson that I taught, both the student and teacher was to draw a picture of one’s family and narrate about the family. We exchanged pictures of families via the camera. A very shy student became very interested to learn something about me and her participation in the lesson changed drastically!
  4. Praise, praise, praise with every body language and facial expression possible to overcome language barriers!! Who doesn’t like additional praise and recognition from their teachers?! Students need encouragement to learn a language. In fact, anxiety can actually inhibit language learning! It isn’t easy to learn English, and students can be motivated by praise and constant encouragement. Don’t be afraid to look silly-just do everything you can to show them you support them!
  5. Go the extra mile-get super organized for your day’s lessons! Have every material you might need for your lessons at a hand’s reach- flashcards of the alphabet, magnetic boards with rewards systems and magnetic letters, food props, puppets. etc… If you are teaching 8 classes in a row, make sure to have all of the materials set out and arranged in the order that you are going to need them in each class. Make duplicate sets of flashcards and have extra magnetic boards with materials (1 for each session you will teach) prepared ahead of time so that it is easy to move from class session to class session! This will ensure your ability to focus on the student and the lesson, and maintain student engagement! This will with the flow of your lesson and help maximize student interest–both key ingredients to a successful lesson!

I hope these tips are helpful for you and help you effectively reach your students!

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