The Challenge of Keeping Students Engaged

Keeping students engaged is so important. Mandarin classes often attract a diverse group of learners. Some students learn Mandarin because they are deeply interested in Chinese culture, some students have a family connection to China/Taiwan, some are already fluent in a language other than English and are looking to add another, and there are probably lots of other reasons too! With this diversity in the classroom, it can be difficult to keep all learners engaged. The first step to keep learners engaged is to make sure that the language that they get is comprehensible to them. Students should understand 100% of what is being said in class. The second step is to use topics that are of interest to the students.

Student Interests Are the Key to Student Engagement

This Tweet came up in my feed today: “Talk to students about their lives, their TV shows, their sports teams…” I could not agree more! It is so important to include topics that the kids are interested in as part of the classroom conversation. I have to do a bit of research to know about video games, etc that the kids like and mention in class.

My classes, especially for older elementary students and up use the TPRS method. TPRS is a language teaching method that uses collaborative storytelling to help students acquire the target language. TPRS uses lots of suggestions from the students to create stories. Because the twists and turns of the stories come from the students, they are automatically more engaged. It also pays to do a little research about what the students want to include. They are so delighted when their teacher asks informed questions about their favorite video game or their favorite restaurant.

Tweet that inspired this post from language learning expert Martina Bex

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