With students who are preparing for presentations, job interviews or even exams, a great way to motivate them and get them thinking about using the English language effectively, is to encourage them to generate their own content to bring to class.

With students who are preparing for presentations, job interviews or even exams, a great way to motivate them and get them thinking about using the English language effectively, is to encourage them to generate their own content to bring to class. Over a number of lessons, I would usually work towards the student preparing and delivering a presentation, which they would then video at home and upload. I have found that this method works well, even with those students who were timid or hesitant to speak English in the beginning.

During each lesson, we would work on parts of their presentation or speech and try to develop ideas for how they can deliver their message appropriately and effectively. I always suggest that they practice each segment on their own at home and video themselves doing so, so that we can evaluate progress at the next lesson. This user-generated content, then becomes the focus of the next lesson, meaning the students themselves are participating in active learning, rather than just passively turning up for a lesson and hoping to assimilate whatever the teacher covers on that occasion. I believe that it motivates and helps to provide an inclusive learning environment for my students. Plus, we usually have a good laugh at the bloopers and mistakes.

There are many options for using user-generated content, whether it is online or hard copy, I like to get my students talking from day one and one of the methods I use is to ask them to bring along some pictures they have taken. We then talk about who or what is in the photo, why they like it etc., which is a great way of practice of using the basic tenses and descriptive language.

This can be extended to discuss what they remember from the day when the pictures were taken, what happened before the photo was taken, and what happened after, what has happened since the photo was taken, how lives have changed etc, this is where you can mix in modal and conditional tenses and some more difficult grammatical forms such as the perfect tenses.

There are plenty of other user-generated content activities, but these are two that I regularly use that work well and always seem to get students talking and discussing something that is of interest to themselves, which keeps them motivated to learn and involved in the learning process.

Rachel Boyce
www.theteacherabroad.blogspot.com

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