Have you heard about the ESL Talk podcast?
As described on their Apple Podcast page, ESL Talk is “a podcast for English teachers by English teachers.” In each episode, the hosts and their guests discuss various teaching topics, methods, and approaches pertaining to ESL teachers. It's a fantastic way to hone your English teaching skills and stay current in the field.
Here are three key takeaways from ESL Talk's episode on fostering independent learning that you can incorporate into your teaching.
1. Encourage your students to practice English outside of class time
If you see your students on a regular basis, ask them at the end of each class what they’re going to do over the following week or weekend to practice English. When you ask your students this, you’re not just telling them that they need to study the language on their own time. You’re taking it one step further and asking them to tell you exactly how they’re going to work on improving their skills.
If your English learners aren’t sure what activity they want to do, this gives you an opportunity to brainstorm some ideas with them. For example, students can...
- watch one of our videos on YouTube to increase their fluency
- listen to a podcast to improve their listening skills
- try an activity from our blog to practice their writing
- read a book to improve their reading skills
If your students are interested in doing some extra reading, have them check out our reading recommendations:
- Reading Recommendations for Your Low-Intermediate Students
- Reading Recommendations for Your High-Intermediate Students
- Reading Recommendations for Your Advanced Students
2. Help your students create a practice schedule
Work with each student individually to craft a schedule that works for them and that gets them into the habit of practicing English on their own time. Outlining the exact days and times your students are expected to devote to additional language learning will give them a clear and focused plan to follow.
To hold them accountable, have them keep a log of what they do during this time. You can also ask them to share the activities they did in class.
"Those who took control of their own learning were much more engaged."
—Fiona, guest speaker on ESL Talk podcast
3. Get your students to keep a reflection journal
In life, we learn when we reflect. This is also true when it comes to our students’ language learning journeys.
When students learn something new, it’s incredibly beneficial to have them take some time to reflect on what they’ve learned.
If you’re in a physical classroom, students can keep a physical journal. If you’re teaching online, students can use a document in Google Docs. They can also use a regular piece of paper to jot down their thoughts.
At the end of class or at the end of a week, guide your students in a few minutes of reflection time by asking them questions like:
- What did you learn?
- How did you feel when you were learning it?
- What were you proud of?
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What would you do differently?
Here are some ready-made assessment tools you may also find useful:
Share your thoughts
Teachers, how do you foster independent learning? Let us know in the comments below.