4 Teaching Strategies for Language Tutors
What makes a memorable lesson? Is it the tutor’s ability to make a complex concept digestible? Or the ability to evoke an emotional response? And are innovative teaching strategies intrinsically better than more traditional ones?
While there’s no one answer to what makes a great teaching moment, we can all agree that empathy, perceptiveness, charisma, and the willingness to take risks can go a long way to help you make your language lessons more special and memorable.
If you are a language tutor and you want your learners to keep thinking about your lessons long after you’ve finished teaching them, try implementing some of these teaching strategies:
1. Get to know your learners
If you want to make a lasting impression on your learners, it’s important that you get to know them as individuals. This doesn’t mean that you need to be best friends with them, but taking the time to learn about their interests, backgrounds, and motivations can help you create more personalized lessons that resonate with them on a deeper level.
For example, if you know that one of your learners is into environmentalism, you could incorporate green themes into your lessons so that they know their interests and concerns are taken into account. Are you working with a teenager who is passionate about K-Pop or Japanese animé? SO why not ask them to write about the things they love the most instead of assigning a boring piece about their daily routine?
Allowing learners to explore their interests through language learning is one of the simplest and most productive teaching strategies you can implement in your lessons because it makes them feel seen and valued. And, when learners feel like they are being heard, they are more likely to be engaged and enthusiastic about the material, which in turn leads to better learning outcomes.
2. Create a supportive and inclusive learning environment
As a language tutor, you should always ensure that your learners feel like they are in a safe space where they can take risks without fear of judgment, and this means creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable communicating and participating.
One way to do this is by being aware of the language you use in class. For example, you should always avoid making comments that could be interpreted as critical or negative such as “That’s wrong” or “You’re not pronouncing that correctly”. Instead, opt for more positive and constructive feedback such as “Can you try saying that again?” or “That sounds great, now let’s work on your intonation”.
It’s also important to be aware of the non-verbal cues you are giving off. If you are frowning or crossing your arms, your learners will pick up on that and they may feel like they are not doing well. On the other hand, if you smile and make eye contact, they will feel more encouraged to continue participating.
Another way to create a supportive learning environment is by asking your learners how they are feeling today and if there is anything you can do to make them more comfortable. This shows that you are invested in their well-being and want them to have a positive learning experience. In fact, you could adapt your lessons to suit your learners’ moods!
Are they feeling a bit blue? Then they may prefer to work with a song, do a bit of writing, or read an inspiring story. Are they anxious or just full of energy? Then playing a game that will allow them to free some of that energy or tension may be a good choice.
In the end, what teaching strategies you should put at work every day is a decision that you will make based on a profound understanding of your learners’ needs and emotions.
3. Use teaching strategies that engage all of the senses
Humans are multisensory creatures, so it makes sense that language-teaching strategies that engage all of the senses would be more effective than those that only focus on one sense. For example, if you are teaching vocabulary, it’s not enough to just write the words on the virtual board and have your learners repeat them.
Instead, try using pictures, realia, or even videos to help them connect the new words with a concrete image. What’s more, you could also ask them to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a situation where they would use the new vocabulary.
For example, if you are teaching the word “beach”, you could ask them to imagine they are on a tropical island, feeling the warmth of the sun on their skin and the sand between their toes. This will help them remember the word better and be able to use it in conversation more easily.
If, on the other hand, you realize that your learner usually learns better by listening, don’t ignore it or persuade them to do things differently! Instead, try implementing teaching strategies that focus on listening comprehension. You could use audio material, listen to podcasts together, or even read out loud from a storybook and have them follow along.
Remember: the goal is to make sure your learners are engaged and motivated, so let them lead the way when it comes to finding the teaching strategies that work best for them.
4. Teach your learners about your culture
One of the best ways to make your language lessons memorable is by teaching your learners about your culture. This doesn’t mean that you should turn every lesson into a history or geography class, but try to weave in some cultural tidbits whenever it’s appropriate.
For example, if you are teaching the names of different fruits and vegetables, you could also tell your learners where they come from, what different names they have in different regions where your language is spoken, and how they are usually eaten in your country.
This is a great way to not only help them learn the new vocabulary but also to give them a taste of what life is like in your culture. What’s more, it will also help them see you as a real person with interests and background, rather than just a language tutor.
Teaching your learners about your culture is a great way to make a connection with them and help them remember your lessons for years to come.
Can you think of any other teaching strategies that you find to be effective?
At LovLan, we encourage our tutors to be creative and to customize their teaching methods to fit the needs of each individual learner. However, these four teaching strategies are a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to make your language lessons more memorable and, more importantly, make your learners feel comfortable, welcome, and valued.
So why not give these techniques a try in your next class?