All blog posts

6 Ways to Enhance Your ESL Classroom

How to set your ESL students up for success


Teaching English as a second language is a journey. It takes experience, creativity, and ingenuity to make the learning process efficient, intuitive, and fun.

Now, that's a lot of nice sounding words, but how do real teachers turn them into actionable tricks and tools in the classroom? We recommend putting these tips first on your list of to-do's.

1. Consistency is key

Setting up routines may sound repetitive or "blah", but consistency allows for learning to thrive. There's no "blah" if you fill a familiar schedule with dynamic tasks and assignments.

Create a consistent structure that involves clear objectives every day. Teaching that involves a specific daily goal, assignments that are enjoyable yet challenging, and time during class to put the lessons into practice will keep students on track.

2. New vocabulary every lesson

Language is all about vocabulary. Ok, maybe not just that. Sentence structure, conjugation, tenses, etc. are all major slices of the pie; but a robust vocabulary makes for better understanding and communication skills.

Lisa Simpson saying she got an A on her vocabulary test

Teaching your ESL students new words every lesson is critical to their growth. So while it may feel intense early on, introducing more words every day is a recipe for success.

3. Use image clues

If a picture says a thousand words, just think how helpful images can be for teaching ESL students learning a new language. Visual tools are incredibly powerful for expediting the language learning process. They sure beat staring at a new word in English and trying to remember what it translates to.

In most cases, an image makes it easier. And since Knoword is all about learning words in a fun way, it was an obvious choice to make image clues part of our toolkit. Make sure you integrate them into your ESL assignments for proven results.

To learn more about image clues, check out our blog post on the subject.

4. Gamify exercises

No matter what tools you use, making a game out of learning is just a smart way to teach.

animated gif of man saying "this is a fun game!"

Educational games like Knoword are great at helping ESL students have a good time while learning in their second language. Teachers can customize word packs and use image clues (like we just mentioned above) to make every class a total blast.

5. Learn your students' backgrounds

Students don't just learn by reading information. Some of the most effective ways to learn are by relating a student's real life experiences to the course material. This is especially true when it comes to ESL students.

Knowing your students and their backgrounds makes it far easier to tailor lesson plans that speak their learning "language". So remove the culture shock, and do your best to make your class comfortable from the start by getting to know your students early on.

6. Make sure your students understand

Sometimes a student may not understand your course material simply because you didn't stop to check on them before the big test. Most language learners aren't comfortable admitting they don't understand something. They'd rather pretend they get it than admit they don't.

It's important to create a safe space for students to get things wrong so they can get it right. Every once in a while, simply take a pause, check to see if your students are on the same page, and if not, take the time to explain it in words everyone can understand.