The Best Free Digital Tools for Teaching English On-Line.

Here are 8 of my best digital tools that I use for teaching on line and in the classroom.

My Best 8 Digital Tools for Teaching English Online.

Teaching English online can be fun and rewarding, but it also requires some planning and preparation. You need to have the right tools to communicate with your students, create engaging materials, and provide feedback.

In this blog post, I will share with you some of the best digital tools for teaching English online that I have used and personally recommend.

There are free options for all of these tools which fits perfectly within my budget but does not provide me with any revenue.

If you see anything on your travels around my website that you think is cool, I would appreciate it if you purchase via me as so far I have kept this site ad free and would like to continue doing that.

Google Meet.

Google Meet is a video conferencing platform that allows you to host live classes with your students. You can share your screen, use captions, chat, and record your sessions. You can also create breakout rooms for group activities and use polls and quizzes to check understanding. Google Meet is free for anyone with a Google account and works on any device.

Most people I know use Skype, but I have always found this to be easier and the free period during covid was 30 minutes longer than Skype. The quality is exceptional and I never had any complaints from my students. I still continue to use Google Meet for my personal life as well as my business and can not fault the service.

Google Docs.

Google Docs is a word processor that lets you create and edit documents online. You can collaborate with your students in real-time, leave comments, and track changes. You can also use Google Docs to create assignments, quizzes, and feedback forms. Google Docs is part of Google Workspace, which also includes other tools like Google Slides, Google Sheets, and Google Forms.

I run Google Docs from my smartphone (As well as my laptop) and tie it into the books and lessons I am teaching on the day. With most of the tools being Google I find I have little to no problems. It is a no-brainer to use the whole set of Google tools to provide the best experience for your students and to make it easy for yourself.

Yes, there is a bit of learning to do to make sure everything runs seamlessly. But once you have done it a few times you will look like a master and your lessons will run as smoothly as silk.

Google Workspace.

Google Workspace is a suite of cloud-based applications that helps you manage your online teaching business. You can use Gmail to communicate with your students, Google Calendar to schedule your classes, Google Drive to store and share your files, and Google Classroom to organize your courses and assignments. Google Workspace is free for educators and students with a school email address.

Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a digital whiteboard that allows you to create interactive lessons with your students. You can draw, write, and add images, stickers, shapes, and text boxes. You can also import slides from Google Slides or PDF files. You can invite your students to join your jam session and collaborate with you on the same board. Google Jamboard is free for anyone with a Google account and works on any device.


Canva is a graphic design tool that helps you create beautiful and professional-looking materials for your online classes. You can use Canva to design slides, posters, flyers, worksheets, certificates, logos, and more. You can choose from thousands of templates or create your own from scratch. You can also access millions of images, icons, fonts, and colors. Canva is free for basic features and offers a premium plan for more advanced options.

I use this for so many things, from designing class brochures to templates for advertising on social media. How can this still be free and offer so much? I am embarrassed to the degree I feel like I must upgrade to a paid membership.

There is also a special education offer for teachers and schools. Canva Education…


ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to generate natural and engaging conversations in English. You can use ChatGPT to practice speaking and listening skills with your students or to provide them with extra practice outside of class. You can also customize ChatGPT to suit different levels, topics, and interests. ChatGPT is free for anyone to use and works on any device.

A,I is going to change so much of how things will be done, there is a steep learning curve in front of us all. My other website, which is called AITechWarriors will be helping people stay on top of what is happening in the field of A.I.


Speechnotes is a speech-to-text tool that converts your voice into text. You can use Speechnotes to dictate your notes, essays, emails, or blog posts. You can also use Speechnotes to transcribe audio or video recordings of your classes or interviews. Speechnotes is fast, accurate, and easy to use. Speechnotes is free for anyone to use and works on any device.

This is a great tool as you can use it to test your students’ pronunciation and vocabulary skills as well as provide obvious benefits for the teacher.


Grammarly is a writing assistant that helps you improve your grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and style. You can use Grammarly to check your writing for errors and suggestions on how to fix them. You can also use Grammarly to set goals for your writing based on your audience, tone, and purpose. Grammarly is free for basic features and offers a premium plan for more advanced options.

The basic version is so good I have never felt the need to upgrade. I am 100% happy with the format and what I can do with it. They have recently added an AI interface which I am playing with and it gives you 100 free “prompts” per month. Along with chatGPT and the other A.I tools, I doubt I will ever get to use the lot.


Quillbot is a paraphrasing tool that helps you rewrite any text in different ways. You can use Quillbot to avoid plagiarism, simplify complex sentences, or generate new ideas for your writing. You can also use Quillbot to change the tone or mood of your text based on different modes like formal, informal, creative, or humorous. Quillbot is free for up to 700 characters per paraphrase and offers a premium plan for unlimited paraphrasing.

This extension is permanently open on my browser and that shows you how often I use it. Being able to paraphrase something quickly is vital for my business, thus the reason I stare at it every day.

Final Thoughts.

These are my 8 favorite online tools for teaching English. There are many ways you can use them and, as is said, you are only limited by your imagination.

For example with “speechnotes” you could use it not just for translating from speech to text but you could use it for testing the vocabulary and pronunciation of your students. How well are they pronouncing that word? Are they stringing sentences together grammatically correctly?

With chatGPT, you can get your students to phrase questions about their favorite topics and see if the answer corresponds with what they thought.

So fire up the thinking cap and use the tools that we have on hand to make our classrooms a lot more fun. And if the above aren’t enough tools for you, here are a few more that I have reviewed and used in the past, and for most still do. Look at my post named “On-Line Teachers Tools to Make Life Easier”. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?


Some links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through these links, I will make a commission on them. There will be no extra cost to you and, you could actually save money. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Vietnams Ministry of Education Bans IELTS Exams.

IELTS suspended from the Vietnamese classroom.

Students fly overseas to take IELTS exams after indefinite suspension in Vietnam” was the headline from VN Express International, an English language newspaper catering to all English speakers in Vietnam.

IELTS is an English proficiency exam that is used to assess students’ ability in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is commonly used by students in Vietnam to enter foreign schools and universities to further their education. And it is also being commonly used to enter Vietnamese Universities at an increasing rate as well.

To find out more about the course details you can look at

One Students Ordeal.

To give you an understanding of how this has upset the students who have been studying this, here is one persons ordeal.

A young lady had her test canceled by the British Council ( One of 2 bodies that can conduct tests in Vietnam) because of the MOETs ruling to stop tests. She was scheduled to take this test as a final prerequisite for applying to a Canadian college. She lost her fee with the British Council and on top of that paid out an additional sum to fly to Thailand to take her test there. The additional costs were obviously an added burden but she needed her IELTS score asap so the visa to Canada could be arranged.

Following the abrupt postponement in Vietnam, this young lady is one of the hundreds of Vietnamese students who intend to fly abroad to take IELTS tests.

Why has MOET Suspended IELTS Exams?

The British Council and IDP, according to the MOET, failed to obtain their approval documents, and the tests were improperly managed. And for that reason, the testing was abruptly stopped. The British Council and the IDP are the 2 bodies in Vietnam authorized to conduct these tests in Vietnam.

Poorly Planned

The government directive requiring organizations to obtain updated authorization from the education ministry to conduct foreign language exams was issued in June 2018, according to Ho Quang Huy, chief of the Legal Document Inspection Department at the Ministry of Justice.

He attributed the lack of information to the education ministry and claimed that earlier statements from the department would have allowed companies more time to submit their paperwork.

Students who had started to submit their admission documents to study abroad have experienced significant difficulties as a result of the IELTS exam postponement attributed the lack of communication to the ministry of education.

Is This The Only Reason?

There have been other reasons suggested as well as the above for the abrupt termination or suspension of IELTS testing.

Online Scammers and Leaked IELTS papers.

The only two IELTS testing organizations in Vietnam, the British Council and IDP, caution applicants against falling for online con artists who sell “genuine” exam papers.

IELTS test papers containing answers that were claimed to be “genuine” have cost “candidates” millions of dong. As more and more colleges prioritize IELTS as a requirement for admission, the demand for the credential is surging.

IELTS was just a requirement for admission to a small number of colleges in 2017. But when more than 30 colleges added it to the admissions process last year, the number went up.

Many con artists claim that the day before the examination, candidates will receive the “genuine” test paper. The money quickly vanished after the “applicant” pays for the “genuine” test paper.

Test Too Difficult for Vietnamese English Teachers.

It has been discussed by some “foreign” teachers that now that Vietnamese English teachers must sit and pass the test for their jobs, the content has been found to be too difficult for them. With some people going even further in their responses. Albeit this is not necessarily the opinion of this website.

Editorial Comment by Marty Hoare.

We can all be certain of one thing. This IELTS drama is more complicated than what we are seeing in the news.

Without providing a reason, the BC has abruptly stopped all IELTS exams till further notice.

The local media alerts us to problems with the exam itself the very next minute.

It’s rather safe to presume that the BC and MOET have gotten into a battle over something.

I wonder if the requirements and evaluation of the IELTS have anything to do with that.

I also wonder if it has anything to do with the terrible results of the most recent IELTS tests that Vietnamese English teachers had to take and pass.

The likelihood that the abhorrent and embarrassing results of the English Vietnamese teacher testing for MOET, and the local education sector more broadly, has caused this fight.

Promises for a Quick Fix.

On Saturday, the education ministry declared that in the upcoming days, it will give IELTS and TOEFL approval priority over all other foreign language competence exams.

According to the Ministry of Education and Training, the choice was made to remove obstacles for candidates who want to sit for these tests. In order to get ministry approval to resume the testing, it has asked pertinent units to finish papers.

The postponement, according to the education ministry, was caused by organizations not finishing their approval documents and improper management of exam quality. If all of the required documentation is submitted, the approval procedure should take about 20 days, according to deputy education minister Nguyen Huu Do.

Let us hope that whatever the issue that started this, it will be resolved quickly so there are no more problems for the students affected.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here

English Language Centers Facing Shortages | Editorial.

Vietnams English industry is suffering from lack of good teachers and poor administration.

Why Do Some Centers have Staff Shortages?

You could be forgiven for thinking that in Vietnam we are still in the throws of lockdown because of the lack of ESL teachers in language centers. Surely they didn’t all pack up and went home during the pandemic?

Some independent education experts speculated that the recent problem affecting English language schools in Vietnam may be caused by the institutions’ delayed response to changes in the preferred teaching strategies of today’s students.

Independent specialists debated that while modern trends in foreign language learning are growing both in Vietnam and around the world, many Vietnamese English language centers appear to have fallen behind because they cannot adapt to the new waves of change.

Higher Costs Hitting Home.

The Apax Leaders affair, ( They were once well respected and have been around for roughly five years), is one of the most recent scandals involving an English language school.

The current situation highlights a number of issues that many other English-speaking locations are facing in the post-pandemic age. That is higher costs, especially office rent, and little increase in tuition fees from the students and parents.

A center’s rent could be hundreds of millions of dong (100 million dong is approximately $4,200 US), and the majority of landlords are unwilling to lower their rate. Also, the global market is searching for native foreign English teachers, but they are hard to come by as many have gone home during the pandemic and found other jobs. Money Conversion by “XE-Money Converter

Language School Closures.

Overall I would estimate that between 40% to 60 % of language schools have either closed or dramatically reduced their size. Many have stopped renting high-priced offices and moved to cheaper ones. They also used smaller spaces instead of large properties to save money. A lot of this happened while still passing on the higher charges in fees, understandably illegal.

Some companies share their offices with partners. They keep only some parts for teaching and sublet the rest for purposes other than teaching, although this is also not allowed by law.

Additionally, many married immigrants have established “schools” inside their homes that can significantly undercut such businesses with higher prices.

While other schools, like Apax, are allegedly going through “re-opening procedures,” it is unclear whether they will actually reopen. Will it be another case of “take the money and run”?

A Shortage Of Qualified English Teachers.

I have been living and working in Vietnam as an EFL teacher for the last 15 years and I have never seen it this bad before. The pandemic drove people out of the country and the non-slackening of visa or immigration rules has made Vietnam to be a less friendly entry point than some other countries.

Add to that the closures and fly-by-night practices of some schools and you have severely dented the reputation of many language schools in Vietnam.

There are a lot of online communities and Facebook groups that have seen continued publishing of unfulfilled jobs. This has led a lot of the English Centers to lower their standards and accept people with rudimentary English language skills. It is almost like stepping back 15 years to the less controlled environment that was still current then.

It is common to see 20 or 30 jobs for a teacher that can’t be filled. The English teachers who remain get bombarded with calls and offers to teach. At one stage I was getting 10 calls a week for different job offers. however, the offers all tend to be around the same hourly rate, more than likely due to the points raised here.

It’s Time to Relax Administrative procedures.

The need for foreign teachers has grown in the post-pandemic era in line with the rise in student enrollment, although there are significant administrative roadblocks.

Obtaining a work permit for a foreign national is currently quite challenging. This makes it difficult for many language schools to afford to hire enough foreign instructors. And the teachers that are coming through are from countries that were not in favor (For English Teachers) before. Like the Philippines and South Africa.

Regarding this situation, authorities should adopt flexible policies and expedite procedures. In this way, the teacher shortage issue might be quickly resolved.

Money or Education.

Vietnamese language schools frequently place more of an emphasis on business than on education. Quite frequently, I would witness parents barging into the centers and lamenting the abject failure of their child’s external exam. A consequence of the school’s policy of forcing students—whether or not they are prepared—through “the system.”

They 9The schools) simply want to increase the number of centers as soon as possible to achieve expansion. They spend money on marketing and increasing sales to attract as many learners as possible. The parents don’t see the rows of telemarketers calling potential students.

For most Vietnamese, if a school looks good with nice chairs, televisions, and all the latest equipment, it must be good. They don’t necessarily see the poor quality of the teachers behind the scenes.

Additionally, they open additional locations with the majority of their earnings. Therefore, it is uncertain whether they have qualified teachers, the ability to provide services, and the financial management skills to effectively manage for the future.

The Need for Change.

After the epidemic, learning habits shifted globally and in Vietnam, but many Vietnamese English centers do not appear to be adjusting to these changes.

Modern students do not fit the mold of traditional classes held in large, spacious venues.

These conventional approaches are too expensive, and the benefits they provide are not adequate compensation. According to what I have observed, this has caused a significant disparity between the investment and the enrollment of students during the post-pandemic period.

During the coronavirus epidemic, many students discovered the possibility to learn online and stopped attending traditional classes. And it was successful because it cut down on the students’ typically time-constrained commute time.

Final Thoughts.

For students of all ages, online courses have been made available in Vietnam by a number of significant English education providers, including the British Council and others.

Centers can choose how many online and offline units to offer based on the time that classes are offered, but they cannot continue to offer entirely offline courses as they do at the moment. With the combination of teachings, the schools will be able to return to the right side of the ledger book and, ideally, prioritize student instruction over monetary gains.

For English centers, it is now vital to integrate online and offline courses since otherwise, failing schools will keep opening and shutting all the time.

For more editorial content read “Marty Hoares” ” Vietnams ESL Sector, a Series of Disappointments

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to teach ESL to Teenagers.

Teaching English to Teenagers.

You may believe that teaching ESL to teens is more challenging than teaching English to children or adults. Common preconceptions are that because they are going through changes in their life they are less willing to learn.

However, as an experienced EFL teacher of kids and teens, and adults in Vietnam, I don’t believe this to be true. Yes, you may have to work harder to gain the attention of pupils this age, but it is not hard work.

In this article, I’ll provide you with tips on how to teach teens ESL that have worked for me. Including unique teaching strategies, engagement methods, and much more, that will keep your students focused on learning throughout the year.

And, yes, It works in public schools as well where you may get 50 plus students to a class. You will not win them all over, but you can get the others involved to a degree that they want to learn and will keep the uninterested students quiet.

Before we dive into the tips, let’s get a bit of perspective on what is happening inside the teenage brain and how it might affect their learning processes.

Restructuring and remodeling the brain.

When children are young, their brains go through a major growth surge. Their brains are roughly 90-95 percent of adult size by the time they’re six. Although the early years are crucial for brain development, the brain still requires extensive restructuring before it can operate as an adult brain.

During adolescence, your child’s brain undergoes extensive restructuring, which lasts until they are in their mid-20s. Age, experience, and puberty hormone changes all influence brain development.

Inside the brain of a teenager

Adolescence is a time of enormous growth and development and restructuring of the teenage brain. New connections are being made and those less used are being pared away.

So the unused connections in your child’s thinking and processing region of the brain are ‘trimmed’ away. Other interconnections are strengthened at the same time. Based on the ‘use it or lose it’ premise, this is the brain’s approach to becoming more efficient.

Think of it like the brain turning several roads going to the same place as the brain restructures the roads to become one faster “superhighway”.

How does this affect learning behavior?

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing in teenagers they are more likely than adults to rely on the amygdala to make decisions and solve issues. Emotions, impulses, hostility, and instinctual behavior are all linked to the amygdala.

Have you noticed that your student’s thinking and behavior appear to be quite mature at times, but then they act or think in irrational, impulsive, or emotional ways at other times?

These shifts and alterations are explained by the brain’s back-to-front growth, teenagers are functioning with brains that are still developing.

The Impact on learning.

The mix of your student’s developing brain and culture has an impact on how he or she acts, thinks, and feels. Your students’ favorite activities and skills, for example, may become ‘hard-wired’ in the brain.

So consider the variety of activities and experiences your student enjoys, such as music, sports, study, languages, and video games. And build them into your lessons.

Now let’s Dive in with some tips.


Learn as much as you can about your students.

Getting to know your teenage students on a more personal level will pay off in your classroom. When you initially meet your pupils, take the time to learn about their interests, hobbies, abilities, and even dislikes.

Then use this knowledge by incorporating it into your teaching. Students are considerably more likely to be interested in a lesson that is relevant to them than in one that is irrelevant to them.

You can begin with an introduction lesson, in which you introduce yourself and the topic you want your pupils to discuss. Name, age, family, hobbies, and sports, for example. Keep things light and breezy at this stage.

Try to remember the student’s name. In large classes it is difficult, but if you get your students to write on a sticker you can then save it and apply it to a desk layout of the classroom. Asking someone by name is always better than saying ” Can you tell me..”

Set Rules and Routines.

You want a lively classroom, but your kids must understand the rules. Teenagers will test the limits, but if you have established ground rules, you can help your class return to a more productive state.

Also, give your students a predictable and pleasant learning environment, as well as a natural “flow” to your session.

Your session should follow the same format, whether it is a warm-up, homework review, new subject presentation, or lesson practice. It is your decision how you want to format your classroom activities, but keep it lively and interesting.

Allowing students to build routines will assist them in understanding what is going on during a class and maintaining their focus during learning.

However, occasionally shake things up and break away from the routine by introducing a fun new exercise or activity.

Teach to the Students Level.

However much you will complain to the staff or owner, your class will have students at different levels of learning. Some will be faster and some will be slower.

Please don’t think this means the slower students are less intelligent, it may mean your teaching style is not correct for them.

Remember that pupils, especially teens, will work at varying levels of difficulty. When you give a group of teens identical work, some will find it challenging, while others will become bored due to how simple it is.

As a result, it’s critical to vary your approach so that everyone in the class may learn to their full potential. Also, you may need to prepare different types of lessons for the same class.

This does not necessarily mean a lot of extra work, it might just mean asking a different complexity of questions.

Make use of the amygdala.

Obviously, your pupils will not be able to pick and choose what they learn in each class. However, incorporating choice into their learning can help teenagers become more engaged students.

Give your students a few options to pick from if you assign a speaking task. This empowers teenagers to take control of their work.

And if it is a listening task, you can liven it up by including the students’ names in listening exercises. Don’t your ears perk up when you hear your name?

Some of my best lessons for listening are when I totally change the script and include “funny references” to eating or going to school etc. And including the students’ names. Just be careful it is culturally appropriate.

Writing tasks are exactly the same, just don’t forget the sequence for learning different English skills

Use Rewards.

Who doesn’t like to be rewarded for a job well done, your students are no exception.

Using rewards are a great way to enforce both the classroom rules and encourage your teenage students to learn.

While younger children might like to be rewarded by helping the teacher and receiving a smiley-face sticker, you’ll need a different approach when teaching young adults.

I have done things like taking the students out for pizza or ordering in if they have completed certain tasks. In a public school, you can still use the same idea as long as you do it in the classroom.

Bring snacks, throw a party and play music. You will capture the love of your student if you go above and beyond most of the other ESL teachers out there.

Play Games.

When selecting classroom games and activities for teaching ESL to teenagers, it’s critical to select advanced games so that the teens don’t feel like you are treating them like a child.

The following are a couple of fun games I play and you can use with your adolescent students to make your lessons enjoyable.

The Directions game.

This game is great for teaching directions, as well as prepositions of place and movement, and it’s a fun lesson supplement. To play, arrive a few minutes early to reorganize the classroom furnishings into a maze.

Students work in couples to guide their blindfolded teammates through the maze. Clear directions must be given by the guides.

The guides can say things like “turn left”, “crouch”, “crawl” and so much more. Be inventive and make it fun, but not too difficult for the skill level of your class.

Not only is it informative it is a lot of fun that will have your students laughing while learning.

Reverse Charades

Reverse charades is a popular guessing game that may be played in a school of any size. To win a point the teams must act out the phrase or word on the board. If the selected team member gets the word or phrase correct that team wins the point.

This is a more classroom-inclusive way of playing the traditional charades game. i love this game because it involves everyone.

I have found in Asia, pitting the boys against the girls works extremely well. Remember the puberty changes, they are all trying to impress both their friends and the opposite sex.

An easy way to set this up and still have control of the activity is by putting 2 chairs with the backs facing the board and the rest of the team members standing in front of them trying to explain with body language what is written on the board.

The teacher is the ultimate arbiter of all disputes arising, or points will be discounted.

You can find more games for teenagers at ESL Kids Games For Teens.


Remember to use materials that are relevant to the students’ lives, develop individual bonds with students, design active and engaging lessons, and allow time for fun when teaching teens ESL in Asia, online, or anywhere else in the world.

Keep in mind where adolescent ESL students are in their mental and academic development. They need to be academically challenged and appreciated as individuals to develop their love of learning. Be the teacher you loved as a student.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching EFL in Vietnam for over 15 years and have my own school. I am also the author of this article and owner of this website.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Teach ESL to Kids.

This will help you teach ESL to the younger students and make life easier for you.

Teaching English to Kids.

Teaching any subject to kids can be challenging and teaching English to non-native English speakers can be a daunting endeavor and has its own particular problems. And not just because of class size or skill level of the students.

You’ll need a lot of patience, particularly because every child learns differently and at a different pace.

Teaching ESL to youngsters, on the other hand, is also extremely fulfilling. Remember that youngsters have limited attention spans and that teaching them requires patience as well as a sense of fun and humor.

Here are a few tips that will make it easier for you in the classroom.

My Top Ten Tips for the Kids ESL Classroom.

Make use of visuals

Images are excellent for aiding learning. A child may not realize that the term “book” means “book,” but they are aware of what a book looks like. 

Children will be able to deepen their understanding by integrating text and graphics. There are many places online you can get flashcards (Or make your own) that makes learning easier. 

Furthermore, photos and posters provide color to your classroom, making it more interesting and conducive to learning.

Keep it simple.

This is one of the most crucial steps in teaching English to children. Simple words will allow your students to gain their knowledge, which you can then build on. 

These may include phrases like “sit down,” “put your pencils down,” and “open your books,” among others. Keep your wording succinct, informative, and easy to comprehend. 

And don’t forget to teach the fundamentals, such as “may I have some water?” and “may I use the restroom?”

You will want to check to see if they comprehend the short instructions you’ll use in class after teaching them. 

Keep it lighthearted.

Encourage your kids to practice and use the language you’ve taught them by utilizing a variety of activities. Incorporate your pupils’ hobbies as well, so they are motivated to study!

Furthermore, nothing is more tedious for the pupils to read from a textbook and complete drab worksheets with a lot of text and no visuals. When it comes to teaching basic English, be creative and use colorful worksheets.

Making learning interesting in the classroom is simple and does not imply just playing games or acting the fool. 

There is a plethora of entertaining instructional tools available to promote ESL learning, including a variety of games and activities that drive language growth in novel ways.

More on games can be found in my piece “How to Engage Your EFL Student.”

Mix things up a little.

When children are only taught in one way, they rapidly get disinterested and bored. You may cover a variety of learning types while also making your lessons engaging and fascinating by employing multiple learning formats.

We understand that creating all of these materials takes time, but here is a list of my “top 10 websites for ESL teachers” that will make your job easier.

Use Technology in the classroom.

Using resources like Powerpoint and other technology is an important method to involve children in a class. 

There are a multitude of apps, interactive games, and platforms available for teachers to employ in their classes, including these I have listed under ” Technology in the classroom“.

Get them talking.

Overuse of Teacher talk is something I see a lot with novice ESL teachers.  Your job is to get the student to talk, not for you to continually talk.

However, there must be some content focused on listening as the listening skill is the first and arguably most important skill to learn. 

It will be tough for children to initiate English discussions if they are just at a basic level. That means it’s up to you to keep them talking and improve their communication abilities. 

To keep children involved in the language, ask them questions while they work or finish activities.

Sing songs.

Songs are a terrific method to get kids interested in learning and can also aid with memory recall. 

Remember that annoying ” ABC ” song that all the ESL kids sing and you just can’t get out of your head? 

For your students, this works in exactly the same way. Memorizing songs can be a great way to help children remember vocabulary.

Use Real-Life objects.

This is especially effective when discussing themes like food, clothing, the home, or anything else where you have easily available materials to support learning.

Bring some food or plates, cups, forks, etc. to class if you wish to improve your student’s food and utensil vocabulary. Check to see if your kids can select the proper utensil or food item that you layout.  

If you want to focus on clothes vocabulary, take a trip to your wardrobe and pull out some clothes to show. You can also invest a little money and do classroom dress-ups. 

This type of interactive learning is ideal for children since it is more engaging than out-of-context learning.

Practice makes perfect.

You can’t expect your students to understand things straight away.  You should give a range of examples and give your students plenty of time to practice what you’ve just taught them. then check for understanding.

When teaching beginners English, this usually entails drilling the students (but not for too long), followed by individual or group practice. Make sure the kids know it’s okay to make mistakes during practice so they don’t feel pressured to get it right the first time.

Use positive reinforcement.

Another key aspect of teaching English to young students is to provide positive feedback. If someone gives an incorrect answer, give them encouraging feedback and correct them. 

Never make a student feel embarrassed in front of the entire class. Because if you do they will turn off and learn to hate studying English. Instead, attempt to establish a welcoming environment in the classroom by frequently complimenting your students, even if they make mistakes.

When teaching English to beginners, for example, if they get the term right but mispronounce it, say something like, “Okay, good!” and then repeat the word with the correct pronunciation so that the student is not embarrassed and the rest of the class hears the correct pronunciation.


For both novice and veteran ESL teachers, teaching English to children can be a lot of fun. Although preparing content for teaching English to beginners may seem difficult at first, you will quickly become accustomed to it. 

It’s also quite satisfying when your kids want to talk to you outside of class to tell you about their accomplishments. It’s incredible to watch them progress from having no skills to being able to communicate in basic English!

Following these suggestions will help you gain the respect of both your students and their parents. 

Continue to praise your kids so that they do not become disheartened when they make mistakes. Praise will assist them in being self-assured learners who are not intimidated by a foreign language. Be the teacher you always looked up to.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for over 15 years and have my own small school. I am also the author of this article and owner of this website. You can check me out on YouTube below.

Post Covid

My School in Vietnam

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Make Money teaching ESL |101

Make Money Teaching English | 101.

You can earn a lot of money teaching English as a second language, whether you’re searching for a side hustle or full-time employment. You have the option of teaching either online or in a classroom.

Most teaching firms pay teachers a range of hourly rates, and I’ll show you how you can maximize your rates.

Also, what factors determine how much money students are ready to pay for classes with you, and how can you expand your school if you decide to start your own business and become an online English teacher?

Here are a few things you should know if you’re a natural English speaker who wants to make money by helping people all around the world learn English.

Get Qualified.

It’s crucial to establish yourself as a professional in the area as an online English instructor if you want to make the most money. Getting trained and certified is the most common approach to do so.

I recommend UDEMY to get your qualifications. Their training is comprehensive and affordable.


Online teaching firms, in particular, want to know that you’re not only TEFL/TESOL certified and have learnt the essential principles of teaching English, but also have specific training in teaching online and are committed to continuing your professional growth.

Your Business

If you start your own business as a freelance online English instructor you will be able to attract more students and charge a higher hourly rate as your qualifications increase. And the more you build your business and the experience in your market increases, the more you can ask for.

But be careful to not price yourself out of the market. Do shopping surveys of other schools and find out what their rates are and try to come in a little under the larger centers.

Classroom Teaching

And it doesn’t change for classroom teaching. If anything it may be more essential to show qualifications and experience. No school wants an unqualified or inexperienced teacher in a classroom of potentially 50 students who don’t know what they are doing.

Even developing countries are becoming more strict with qualifications for classroom teaching. In Vietnam for example it is expected that teachers of EFL will have a B.A. ( Albeit not necessarily in the teaching field)

Tech needs for online teaching.

Online teaching is a convenient way to earn money, but it comes with a number of technological and technical requirements.

The essentials.

  • Internet Access that is Consistent. If you have a strong, consistent Internet connection, you can teach from anywhere in the globe. If you have a strong, consistent Internet connection, you can teach from anywhere in the globe.
  • Computer. To connect to virtual classrooms, the majority of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) tutoring organizations need their teachers to use a laptop or desktop computer. Smartphones are rarely allowed unless you work for app-based businesses like PalFish.
  • Headset Microphone. Most companies don’t allow you to teach with a built-in microphone. Fortunately, there are many affordable headset microphones on the market.

You can find out more at “What is technology in the Classroom

Tech needs for classroom teaching.

Almost every EFL teacher has dealt with this situation:

A class of students who are uninterested in what is going on, no matter how well-prepared the lesson plan is.

We all want our students to be engaged, but we also recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all method to attaining it, whether we teach online or in person.

Each class has its own set of strengths, dynamics, goals, and outcomes. Fortunately, we may employ several strategies to encourage participation without being overbearing. you can find out more “ HERE

Tech to help.

Classroom teaching has its own specific problems and you want to minimize these by incorporating some basic technology in your classroom.

First and foremost, after a long day in the classroom, a wireless headset with a Bluetooth connection to a speaker will save your voice.

I presently utilize a Sony 30 watt speaker, and an “Aporo” wireless headphone (XB32). In addition, I use Google Drive on my phone to store all of my audio recordings.

It will work with any decent wireless headset and speaker. I recommend that you practice before teaching.

My phone is also connected to the Sony speaker through Bluetooth. I’ve saved all of my audio recordings to my phone and programmed the tracks I’ll need for the upcoming lessons.

For any visual presentations, I also use a tiny projector that I display on the classroom wall. Alternatively, I use a whiteboard or a projection screen. The projector’s audio output is also connected to my Sony speaker.

Invest in your future with some essential equipment if you want to make your classroom experience more interesting for your students and work easier for you. you can read more “Here

Setting up Your Own School. ( Classroom style )

Starting your own teaching business, the most difficult ( And most profitable ) of the three possibilities is great if you have the motivation and drive to see it through. It is also something that will take time.

So if you do not want to be in one country for longer than 3 years this is probably not for you.

Not only will you have to hustle to find your own students, but you’ll also be running the show from the ground up, deciding what age group/demographic you want to teach, and developing your own lesson plans based on that.

As well as getting your name out there and marketing your business, and determining your rate of pay and a form of payment that is acceptable where you teach.

How did I do it?

I was teaching in a Vietnamese public school and was well recognized as being an excellent teacher. That is, I always turned up for classes on time and had my lessons pre-prepared. I made the lessons fun for the students and they wanted to learn.

Not rocket science, but when you are up against people who want to go out and drink all night then stagger into the classroom and teach, you are number 1.

After teaching at a few schools I was approached by students and teachers who wanted to improve their English skills.

I had no idea what I was doing but started out charging a minimum hourly base of $50.00 per hour per class. The students were ecstatic and I increased my enrollments very fast. In under 3 years, I was teaching around 150 students per week across different levels.

Now after 5 plus years and coping with the pandemic we, ( I now have other teachers helping ) are still in operation and making more and moving forward again.

Your Online School.

Setting up an online school is, in my opinion, not much different from setting up a classroom environment for teaching.

However, you do need to focus on what country you wish to teach in. If you are not living in that country it will be much more difficult to get students quickly.

The students and more importantly the parents will not know who you are and this will make getting new enrollments more difficult. But if you want to jump straight into this, here are some suggestions.

Intro Video.

This video should highlight your accent, abilities, and why you believe you would make an excellent ESL teacher for their children.

Use this video to sell yourself and your strengths to get your first students, gain some solid, positive reviews, and start to build your client base.

You can use a free tool like Screen-Cast-O-Matic for this.

Market Yourself.

Put your video out into the marketplace, Use Social Media platforms and find groups that specialize in ESL or EFL, and follow and interact with people on the platform.


It’s typical to start with cheaper pricing to attract new students and to establish a positive reputation through favorable feedback and reviews before increasing your rate.

How much can I make?

Starting an ESL tutoring business is a significant financial investment. Many employers demand that teachers devote a certain number of hours per week to their students or sign a contract. and the pay rate will reflect on experience and qualifications.

What They say.

According to Glassdoor, full-time online ESL teachers earn an average salary of around $36,800 per year.

Glassdoor also has information on the hourly rates of well-known tutoring firms.

Popular online organizations like VIPKid pay between $17 and $21 per hour depending on your experience and bonuses, while SayABC pays between $16 and $22 per hour based on your experience and bonuses. According to Magic Ears, their teachers can make up to $26 per hour.

What I say.

Teaching in the classroom or teaching online can range from a low of $10 per hour up to $40 per hour depending on where you teach and the level you teach.

Do not expect to walk in and start making 40.00 per hour. It would be more reasonable to expect $17.00 to $20.00 at the moment depending on the country as well. Countries like Dubai and Taiwan are currently paying very good salaries.

If you decide to set up your own business the rewards are much greater. You have the potential to make $100 and more per hour.

Also, you need to take into consideration the cost of living. Living in some southeast Asian Countries can be very cheap and your pay will go much further. Also, you will be able to save a considerable amount.

Pros and Cons of Teaching Online.

For good reason, English teaching is a popular career choice. It’s difficult to find a profession that is as flexible and well-paid as ESL teaching.


  • ESL tutoring pays higher than the minimum wage in every state in the United States, with an average hourly rate of $18.

    Fully Remote.

  • You can work from any place as long as you meet the job’s technology criteria and your surroundings are well-lit and pleasant.
  • Potential to work full-time. Working full time becomes more and more feasible as your teaching skills improve and you establish a rapport with parents and pupils.



  • Hours that are unusual. You must be willing to get up between 3 and 6 a.m. to teach during peak hours if you are teaching in Asia.
  • Onboarding is a lengthy process. Barriers to admittance include requirements such as a bachelor’s degree or a TEFL certificate.
  • In addition, leading education firms’ onboarding processes often include at least one interview and might take up to a month to complete. If you’re searching for a quick way to make money, teaching English as a second language isn’t for you.

And if you decide to travel to another country to teach there are many more pros than cons. Living in a foreign country and experiencing the different cultures and food are some of the greatest pleasures of ESL and EFL teachers.


It can be challenging and it can be frustrating, but the experiences you gather will last for your whole life. And the change you can bring to someone’s life is one reason alone to be an ESL Teacher.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen, and I’ve been teaching English as a second language/English as a foreign language for over 15 years and own a school in Vietnam. I am also the proprietor of this website and the author of this post.

Below is a link to my most recent YouTube Vlog on TET in Vietnam.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What are the Common Problems of ESL Students?

This is about understanding the students feelings in the ESL classroom and it may help you teaching your students more effectively.

Common problems of The ESL student

For a variety of reasons, the English language is regarded as one of the most difficult to master. There are many reasons why English as a second language (ESL) students fail to acquire the language. It can be from the complicated spelling and phrasal verbs to pronunciation and strange grammatical structures.

However, this article is not focused on the technical aspects of teaching, it is more about the students feelings, but it may help in you teaching your students more effectively if you understand their fears and needs.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are several things you can keep in mind as a teacher while planning your classes and one of the most important is to make the learning environment comfortable and stress-free.

Learners will be less likely to become frustrated and more likely to comprehend what you’re teaching them if they are relaxed and having fun for a start. However, there is so much more.

Understanding some of these problems comes some way in helping solve these problems for the student.

Here are some of the problems I have found that students encounter in the classroom and online.


Learning English can be a daunting task. It’s common to feel self-conscious when practicing, especially in the presence of native English speakers.

These emotions occur when ESL students believe they are unable to effectively express themselves. Things that are ordinarily simple to ask for, such as “may I go to the bathroom,” become considerably more complex when they have to consider each phrase and how to integrate them.

It’s critical to practice as much as possible to assist overcome this fear of embarrassment.

Classroom practice.

The simplest method is to help the student practice in the classroom. I always start the English learning process by teaching basic and easy-to-understand phrases. I will teach things like, “Teacher I want a glass of water”. “Teacher, I want to go to the bathroom”. “Stand up”, “sit down”, “open your book” etc.

With a bit of work upfront not only will it instill confidence in your student, but it will also make it easier for you as the teacher. Once your students gain confidence in their capacity to communicate, they will be able to speak more effectively with others.

Another thing I like to do is say “you are better at speaking English than I am at speaking your language”. A good idea is to get them to teach you some basic words in their language as it shows that you are not scared about making mistakes.


Children and adults are frequently exposed to a “new language” in a classroom setting, which can result in an overly structured approach to learning the language.

in my opinion, there are better ways of doing it. There are now lots of different ways to make the learning experience fun and interesting. My ethos is “laugh and learn”

There are a few different teaching styles and techniques you can use in the classroom and online to make sure your students aren’t bored.

Teaching Styles.

The teaching style I follow is TPR or total physical response. In my opinion, it brings a lesson alive and is much more fun for the student. This is a little of what it is about.

Total Physical Response.

T.P.R is a language acquisition method developed by psychology expert, Professor James Asher. TPR uses a combination of language and physical actions to engage students in the language learning process.

Total Physical Response has a lot of benefits, particularly for beginners and young learners.

  • The pairing of movement with language is innately associated with effective learning
  • Students actively use both the left and right sides of their brains
  • It works with both small and large groups
  • It sharpens students’ listening skills
  • Students are not required to speak until they are ready to, therefore creating a “safe zone” that greatly lowers inhibitions and stress
  • Students will appreciate the change of pace and potential for humor.
  • Kinaesthetic learners (who respond well to physical activities) and visual learners (who learn best with visual cues) will get a lot out of TPR.

You can find out more about the other teaching styles in my post, Teaching English Abroad.

Student Topics.

You can start by selecting a topic that your students enjoy. It may be movies, video games, or anything else, and you’ll use it as a springboard to create your own “learning” around it. It’s critical to pick something that the pupils, not you as the teacher, are interested in.

Playing Games.

Bring your classroom alive by playing learning games. Make sure your games are both age-relevant and lesson-relevant. They should not be used as just having fun, there should be some learning intent involved with the game or activity itself.

So use some of the free resources you can find online and integrate them into your teaching, whether online or in the classroom.

Here is a link to my favorite top 10 websites for teaching English, which includes sites for games and other activities.

It also provides additional links to other online and classroom games and activities.

There are also the more traditional games that don’t need extra resources. This can help when you are teaching a lot of classes with many students in each class.

If you teach in Vietnam, class sizes can get up to and above 50 students per class, it can become expensive if you are constantly handing out paper-based activities.

you can play more traditional games like “Hangman” or “Charades” and “Stop the Bus” and so many more. Have a look here to find some more ideas. How to Engage Your Students


There’s no shortage of places for people to practice their English, from English coffee clubs to online communities like Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, they may make a great friend along the way. (But please teach some internet safety rules).

Assign a homework assignment in which your student must join an online group to practice English. They may also be able to provide language exchange lessons. Obviously, this is intended for older students and is not suitable for younger students.

You can also get them to watch a movie with English subtitles in the classroom and then ask them to tell you what is happening.

Or translate a comic book into English so you can understand as well. 8-))


There are a lot of things that we can do to help our students, we are only limited by our own imagination.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL/ EFL for over 15 years and have my own school in Vietnam. I am also the author of this article and the owner of this website.

You can look at my last YouTube Vlog about TET in Vietnam below.

TET flowers

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to use Gamification in the Classroom.

Make your classroom fun with gamification

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the process of turning a classroom and normal activities into a game. It is a basic concept that uses a practical, applied, and hands-on approach to learning to increase student engagement, modify views and attitudes, and develop abilities.

It necessitates imagination, teamwork, and fun. There are a variety of ways to include games and gameplay in the classroom to increase learning and deepen student knowledge.

Why Use Gamification?

‘Gamification of learning may help you generate dynamic, instructional, and entertaining content regardless of your audience or topic matter.’ It’s not meant to transform work into a game, but it does tap into the psychology that motivates people to engage.

One of the main advantages of gamification is that it makes learning more interesting and instructive, owing to its interactivity. Role-playing and competitive components offer an immersive element that, when done right, may make learning more enjoyable.

How Gamification Works.

Finding the determination and endurance to complete a challenging assignment might be difficult at times. Gamification encourages people to participate in a process by making it more pleasurable. As a person becomes more involved in a course or project, their favorable feelings toward the experience grow, and they are more willing to engage on their own.

Gamification has grown in popularity in areas like health care and the workplace during the last decade. Gamified learning has also been a popular teaching approach as students embrace technology in the classroom at a greater rate than before.

When employed in schools, however, gamification, like any other method, has advantages and disadvantages.

Gamification Traps to avoid.

When implemented incorrectly, gamification in the classroom can lead to students being driven by prizes but disinterested in the learning process, which is the exact opposite of what is expected. It’s critical to grasp the distinction between internal and extrinsic drive in order to avoid this.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when students love studying for the sake of learning, such as the thrill of grasping a new concept or mastering a new ability. When pupils are motivated by external rewards or penalties, this is known as extrinsic motivation.

By selecting intrinsic rewards as a teacher, you can help students avoid being extrinsically motivated.

Instead of throwing a class party, consider devising prizes that will encourage pupils to build a passion for learning English or any other subject that is being taught.

Ways to Gamify Your Classroom.

How can we re-imagine and accelerate the learning experience by leveraging this pervasive and compelling gaming phenomenon? Here are a few ideas for gamifying your classroom, whether it’s online or in-person, to increase participation, cooperation, and learning.

Adapt old-school games for use in the classroom.

Scavenger hunts, bingo, dice games, hangman, and Scrabble have all been around for a long time and can be used in the classroom. Place vocabulary words on bingo cards and see if students can match the words to the definitions after hearing them.

Students can play Scrabble together in groups by spelling out responses to content-specific questions. Consider a scavenger hunt. If students are online, you may give them a list of items to look for around their house, which they could then present on Zoom or during a Google Meet.

Online games.

Students adore Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet Live, Gimkit, and Blooket, the newest online trivia and games platform. Teachers can use these free platforms to design multiple-choice questions that students can answer on their own devices.

Teachers can also construct content-specific questions to serve as pre-assessments, quizzes, or exit tickets by selecting from the thousands of quizzes already uploaded on these sites.

Breakout EDU also features an online learning collection of digital games, riddles, and ciphers that teach critical thinking.

Kahoot: For both formative and informal quizzes, Kahoot allows instructors to create their own multiple-choice questions. Students were required to participate by answering timed questions and were ranked based on their speed and correctness. It’s available through the Kahoot! app or a web browser.

TEDEd: TEDEd is an online video library with an accompanying app that allows instructors to build interactive video lectures based on their course themes, complete with quizzes, discussion prompts, and other activities.

Gimkit: Gimkit allows instructors to construct their own game shows that students can participate in and answer on their own devices. Students work through question sets at their own pace until they master them, ensuring that they have thoroughly grasped course contents.

Find out more about my favorite online tools here ” Teachers tools to make life easier

Award badges of honor

Badges can be used to recognize mastery and accomplishment. Badges, which go beyond grades because they indicate more than just academic progress, can be used by teachers to recognize student accomplishments and mastery.

Students strive toward earning various badges in order to demonstrate mastery of a subject, standard, or ability. Once students have learned a specific ability, badges can be distributed digitally or displayed in the classroom for all to see.

Battle the boss.

A “boss” is a villain in video games who the hero must beat in order to rescue the day. The same as the monster at the end of each level in the original Super Mario game, which must be defeated before proceeding to the next level.

Teachers can design their own boss battles and quests using questions from any curriculum area on the gamification platform Classcraft. Teachers can also build their own fictional boss by utilizing Google Forms or Google Slides to create boss battles.

Freshworks can help.

Who are Freshworks, and what do they do? They are a company that will assist you in making the move to creating a loyal online following or improving your classroom experience.

Freshworks makes it simple for teachers to delight their pupils. They achieve this by employing a new strategy to designing and delivering cost-effective and user-friendly software-as-a-service.

They design technology that everyone can use, making it simple for you to create a stimulating learning environment in your classroom.

Find out how Freshworks can help you by clicking ” Freshworks for fun


Students can fail, conquer, and persevere by using games. They are given a sense of control over their learning.

your students will have influence over the decisions they make, and the more ownership they have, the better.

Instant feedback and little rewards (or large rewards, such as winning) are effective motivators.

If you like the notion of using points and badges to motivate your students, gamified learning might be for you.

However, if you have trouble prioritizing your time when it comes to course development, gamification might not be the best option. The secret to success is to start modestly and give yourself plenty of time to plan.

Are you using gamification in the classroom and is it working for you, let me know.

Check out my other stuff on Vietnam Esl.

Who am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching EFL/ ESL for over 15 years. I have my own school and I am both the author of this article and the owner of this website.

You can check out my school here, prior to opening, after being closed due to Covid.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Improve English Reading Skills | EFL

Learning English requires the use of four separate skills.

The four skills in learning a language.

People generally learn these four English Language skills in the following order.

Listening skill. When people are learning a new language they will first hear it spoken. Like a newborn baby to the learning of a language, they will spend the first lessons listening and speaking

Speaking skill. After they have listened to keywords and phrases they try to repeat what they hear

Reading skill. Later they will learn the reading skill which is the visual representation of any language. And this is the one we will be covering today.

Writing skill. And the last and the hardest skill is the writing skill. All the previous skills should be quite well-developed, however, the sooner you introduce this skill the better.

The five Components of Reading skills.

The 5 reading abilities are an excellent resource for showing teachers how to teach the reading skill, and what points should be covered. If you employ these five essential components of reading in your lessons your pupils will have a strong foundation for success in reading.

Reading Fluency

People can be fluent in reading just like they can be fluent in a language. When you read fluently, you can do so quickly, easily, and accurately.

When your reading flows naturally, exactly like it does when you’re conversing.

Some people believe that reading fluency just means reading quickly. There’s a lot more to it than that.

Reading fluency is made up of four primary components that work together to provide a rewarding reading experience.

Speed of Reading

The first aspect of reading fluency is the rate, or speed, at which students read. Students should read at a good rate because slow and laborious reading slows comprehension.

However, you don’t want students to be solely concerned with how rapidly they can read the content. It’s a delicate balancing act. A higher rate of reading fluency increases comprehension and flow.


The number of words you read properly is a factor in reading fluency. It’s critical to teach pupils to self-correct when reading so that they can understand what they’re reading.

Tell them to go back and try again if they read a word that doesn’t make sense. Help them focus on looking at the word they’re reading and making sure they’re reading it correctly, rather than on getting through as many words as possible.


When you read, prosody refers to the emotion and expression you employ. It entails easily reading phrases with inflection. Intonation refers to the pitch of your voice as it rises and falls.

For some pupils, this is the most difficult goal to achieve. Demonstrate how a learner should read by reading a passage robotically or without intonation, then reading it again with stress and tone.

Ask the students which they find the best and easiest to understand. It is important to understand the pitch and intonation of reading as well as speaking as it shows the listener when the end of the sentence has arrived.


Comprehension is another aspect of reading fluency that many people overlook. Although comprehension is a distinct reading skill, it is also an important component of reading fluency.

Reading quickly and accurately isn’t enough, as we discussed earlier. To be fully fluent, students must comprehend what they are reading.

When someone speaks a language fluently, they don’t just say a bunch of random words. They know what they’re saying and are having a rational discussion.

The same can be said of reading fluency. To read fluently, students must comprehend and consider what they are reading.


Phonics is the process of associating sounds to written letters and then using those sounds to create words. It is the process of decoding words by listening to the sounds that each letter makes.

Essentially, it involves looking at the letters, saying the sounds they create, and deducing the word from those letters and sounds. This is referred to as “sounding out words” by many.

At its simplest it is like saying A, apple; B banana; what sound does the A have in apple and what sound does the B have in banana.

Students are given reading tools through phonics teaching that will give them abilities they can use if they come across a word they don’t recognize. They can sound out a word phonetically if taught some basic information. For example, what sound does “Qu” make, yes it sounds like “Kwa”

Students will always come across big, fresh, unknown words in their learning journey. Reading textbooks and academic content will be a tremendous task for them if they are struggling with each new or unfamiliar word.

On the contrary, if your students have the phonics methods they need to decipher words, they will not be intimidated by whatever word their education throws at them. By providing children the ability to decode every word they come across, you are empowering them!

Phonemic Awareness

Being able to listen to and hear the sounds of words is known as phonemic awareness. This talent excludes the use of letters and written words. It’s merely about being able to hear and listen to sounds. There is no decoding involved


The fifth of the 5 Reading Skills that you should include in your reading education is vocabulary

Vocabulary is the ability of students to engage with words and understand what they mean and imply.

There are two types of vocabulary: receptive (words heard and read) and expressive (words spoken) Both are equally important.

Receptive vocabulary is typically learned first, followed by expressive vocabulary, because it is easier to recognize words than it is to produce them.


The goal we want our students to reach is reading comprehension. We read in order to comprehend and learn. Every other reading skill (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary) is aimed at assisting us in reading words and comprehending their meaning.

Fostering a love of reading is one of the most effective ways to increase reading comprehension. Show kids how to love reading by allowing them to immerse themselves in the stories or learn new facts.

Make reading enjoyable for your students by reading aloud to them and then having discussions about what they’ve read. Encourage them to discuss what they read as they read independently.

Ask Questions.

It’s essential to offer students comprehension questions during and after they read, as well as merely talk with them about what they read, whether they’re performing individual or group reading tasks.

When you ask students questions regarding the text and they don’t know the answer, assist them in going back to the text to find it. Referring to the text is an important skill that will help students improve their reading comprehension and read with intention.


When you teach any of these skills it needs the involvement of the other skills as well. Try to make a lesson that incorporates the use of the whole range of skills. Being aware of the learning process is what will help you in your ESL or EFL teaching.

Go back to my posts about listening, speaking, and writing and choose what works best for you. There are a lot of tools online and websites you can visit that will help you prepare for your classroom or online teaching time.

You can find a lot of free resources that will help in my post

Top 10 Websites for the ESL teacher

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL for over 15 years and have my own school. I also place teachers across Vietnam into both private and public schools. I am also the author and owner of this website. You can look at my school in Vietnam prior to reopening below.

YouTube Logo
My School

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to engage your EFL students | English in the classroom.

TPR at work in the classroom

Engage your students.

A good teacher should always find new ways to engage the student. Looking for new content and activities for the classroom needn’t be difficult or a chore. There is a wealth of ideas and activities that can be gleaned from the internet alone. Then there are other resources like class books, flashcards, YouTube sites, and teacher forums.

A young student in Vietnam.

A. Classroom tactics.

Almost every EFL teacher has encountered this situation: a class of pupils that are uninterested in what is going on in the classroom, regardless of how hard you worked on the lesson plan. Student involvement is a goal we all aspire for, but we also know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving it, whether we teach online or in person.

Each class has its own strengths, dynamics, expectations, and outcomes. Fortunately, we can utilize the tactics listed below to encourage involvement without appearing to be overly pushy.

Oxford University provides some excellent training videos to help you in the classroom as well, and they can be accessed via Oxford Seminars, How to motivate your students and be a better ESL teacher.

Do a warm-up activity.

A quick warm-up exercise allows you to learn about your pupils’ interests and respond favorably in order to form bonds. Everyone enjoys talking about their passions, so why not allow students to communicate with us and one other through their shared interests?

Five warm-up activities

1. The A to Z Game.

Give students a theme, for example, food, animals, countries, etc. Write the letters A to Z on the board. Teams of students must race to write a suitable word next to each letter on the board.

You can also do this without the students running around. Split the class into at least two groups. I have found the students love competing against one another. Especially a boy vs girl challenge.

You can say the alphabet and the chosen student has to give the answer. For example, A- apple, B- banana, etc.

Or you can choose a student from each team to say the alphabet in tandem. ( Penalty points apply if they get it wrong )

2. Draw what I say.

This is a great game for the listening skill. I draw a simple picture and get the students to copy what I am doing without showing the image. I will talk the students through what the picture is about.

For example, I might say draw a line in the middle of the page and on top of that line draw a house with 4 windows and 1 door. To the left of the house draw 6 flowers. In the sky draw the Sun and 3 clouds in the top left-hand corner.

You will need to pre-teach, top left-hand corner, middle of the page, and other keywords as well. This is a great test of their vocabulary skills and prepositions of place vocabulary as well.

At the end of this activity the students will have drawn some very strange stuff, so play it up and have fun with the results

.3. The memory game.

In this activity, the students need to listen closely and add on extra phrases. I normally start the game by saying something like; ” I am going on holiday and taking a camera.

Then each student adds on something else they can take while repeating everything already said. e.g. I am going on a holiday and taking a camera and a bag. Etc.

Again I split the class into two groups and do this activity several times. You can also allow the students to write down the things taken, but don’t slow down the game.

4. Charades.

Students take turns acting out a word that you offer and their classmates try to guess what it is. This is an excellent way to review vocabulary from a prior session or try out a new word.

You can play this as a team activity as well. Put 2 chairs facing forward and choose a student from each team to sit in them. Then behind their backs write a word on the board and the teams have to try to get the chosen person to say that word.

Repeat the process by changing the students who sit in the chairs. This is a lot of fun and the students enjoy this activity.

Young students especially become engrossed in this activity, and they frequently try very hard to act out the meaning of the word.

5. Hangman.

This popular filler can also be a fantastic way to begin a class with beginners who are still unfamiliar with the alphabet. Simply write a freshly taught word on the board ( In dash format ) and have the children guess a letter.

Choose a topic, let’s say food, and tell the class what the topic is and choose a word for the game. Let’s say “Grape”

On the board draw 5 dashes that correspond with the number of letters. I this case 5 _ _ _ _ _. Now the students take it, in turn, to fill in the word, the first group to guess the word wins the points.

When doing a warm-up activity consider the following;

Keep it simple and age-relevant.

A good warm-up activity should cover these points.

  • Simple to comprehend and implement.
  • Easy to execute, in the sense that they require little to no preparation.
  • Appropriate for the age and grade level.
  • Efficient use of time.
  • Attractive and intriguing and fun.
  • Getting to the point of the lesson or the target language
  • To encourage student participation and confidence, use familiar vocabulary.

B. Total Physical Response and gestures.

Teachers and students do not have to be passive during the learning. Try to generate answers by urging them to raise their hand if they have a question or give a thumbs up if they enjoy something.

Students are more involved if they feel the teacher is having fun. So introduce T.P.R into the classroom. T.P.R involves using body language to help students understand a word or phrase.

An example of this is, brush your teeth then doing the action of brushing your teeth. This is a particularly useful technique for teaching younger students.

Learners in an online classroom can answer in a similar fashion by using emoticons or a group board to write on or even in a chat pod

You can find out more about teaching styles and Total Physical Response on my older blog. “Teaching English Abroad”

C. Praise your students.

Praise has a direct impact on students’ perceptions of success and failure. Many pupils assume that their teachers’ assessments of their abilities are the only ones that matter. This isn’t always the case, though. Even an average student may learn to excel with the right direction and perseverance.

It is critical that teachers recognize their incredible potential to influence their students’ ideas. If a teacher can make kids believe in themselves, they will be able to attain new heights and explore new horizons.

To be useful, positive comments must be specific and related to the outcome being discussed. “Great job” is nice, but “I loved how well-structured your argument was” is even better and gives your students a clear path to follow in order to achieve a better outcome.

D. No negative comments.

There is nothing more demoralizing for a student to be told they are lazy and not doing well in the classroom. Try to find out the reason for their apparent laziness or learning difficulties.

It may well be they are helping their family out in the shop after school and not getting to bed until midnight. Even the truly lazy student can be turned around with words of encouragement and praise.

Students who have received effective praise are not afraid of failure or setbacks. These are seen as stepping stones to achievement by them. They see setbacks as opportunities to develop new skills and expand their knowledge. To them, the method or manner by which they failed becomes one of the methods by which they succeed.

E. Create a positive atmosphere.

A pleasant learning environment is one in which each student feels accepted, at ease, respected, and capable of expressing themselves.

It’s crucial to be receptive to what pupils say, and as a teacher, you should constantly remember to set the tone. So, when a student talks, wait for them to finish; praise them when they give a viewpoint, and act appropriately when they show their feelings.

This is probably easier in an online context, as non-verbal reactions on camera can be used to build and reinforce bonds between students.

If there is only one thing you take away from this article, it should be, have FUN in the classroom. You will enjoy teaching more and the student will enjoy learning much more.


There are many things to think about when trying to engage students whether in the classroom or online, and these are but a few ideas. I hope it has provoked some thought about how you will engage your next class.

What is your favorite strategy to engage your students in the learning process? What have I left out?

Who am I and what do I do?

I am an EFL teacher who has been living in Vietnam for 15 years and now have my own school. . I also do teacher placements in Vietnam. If you want to look at my school click on the YouTube button below.

My School in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam can be both fun and challenging, it depends on you how much you wish to enjoy it. But there are some big cultural differences. Those that can accept that do well, those that don’t, not so well.

I hope you enjoyed this brief read.


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