Sometimes our students show an unexpected interest in a topic that we mention. We have to make the most of that sudden sparkle of motivation, since you never know how long it is going to last. Let´s see how we can take advantage of those unusual learning opportunities. Don´t waste that magical moment of learning!

Many times, during our classes, there are moments when a controversial issue arises or a debate awakes our sometimes half asleep students. Of course, we have to take advantage of these incredible learning opportunities because when students are interested in a subject:

  • Learning occurs spontaneously, faster and deeper.
  • They participate unconsciously and in a fluent manner.
  • They use the target language to communicate their ideas, opinions and feelings.
  • They listen to their classmates attentively in order to be able to answer.
  • They will be willing to look for information in order to back-up their opinions.
  • They will be actively thinking of ways to express their ideas.
  • Motivation makes the student the protagonist or their own learning.

How can you relate that moment of flourishing understanding to your plan?

There are many options:

  • If you are dealing with a specific grammatical concept, you could try to use that same construction to subtly guide their answers down the same lines.
  • You could try to steer them, with the same enthusiasm, to parallel issues, establishing some kind of relationship between the theme of their interest and the one you want to deal with.
  • You could have a quick look on the internet and try to find a text, audio or video related to what they find interesting and connect it to your plan. As you know, adaptation is essential during a lesson.
  • Never change the subject abruptly or the motivation will disappear so quickly that you won't even notice how it happened.

Or even better, you could relax, enjoy the moment and think that, above all, they are practising their English, what more could you ask for?

Of course, to make that moment a learning experience, you will have to tie that precious opportunity back to your objectives:

  • You could write the main ideas on the blackboard.
  • They could work in groups to summarize their main ideas.
  • You could create digital activities or a whole project from that learning instant.
  • They could prepare a formal presentation for another lesson.
  • You could create a word cloud as a whole or in groups.

The possibilities, as always, will depend on your creativity and your ability to make that magical learning moment last longer.

Ingrid Mosquera PhD

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