10 top tips for language teachers by language teachers

During a Sanako webinar in January for language teachers, Professor Satoru Shinagawa of the University of Hawaii provided a simple yet effective language teaching tip for the audience. He suggested that educators should create and share online assignments as graphic files instead of text files to stop students from using Google Translate!

We had a great response to this “language teaching hack” and decided that we would highlight some of the best language teaching tips from international language educators in this blog post. We hope that you find these language teaching ideas practical and inspiring and that you’ll try them in your classroom soon!

Do you have a great tip you would like us to share in this blog? Share your teaching tip by emailing us at info@sanako.com or share the tip on Twitter and tag us https://twitter.com/SanakoOy and we will retweet and comment!


1. Listen to the radio

One of the best ways for students to improve their listening and speaking skills is to regularly listen to native speakers. Drive & Listen website is a brilliant and really easy way to do it.

The site enables users to listen to a variety of local radio stations (and ambient street noise) while taking a car journey through major international cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, London, Moscow, New York, and Seoul.

It’s a brilliant way for students to immerse themselves in the culture and everyday life of the cities/countries where their target language is spoken. And it’s completely free!


2. Use maps 

Building on the above, we love how this language educator has created a collection of online tools and projects using maps to inspire her language learners. It’s an amazing way to transport them to a new city and it provides endless stimulus for them to explore, play, write stories and talk about what they find. As she says, there are “lots of fun ways to escape and learn.”



3. Food, glorious food!

Encouraging students to broaden their vocabulary and core language skills through food is a tried and tested pedagogical device. This might include students reading menus, writing recipes, or simply talking about their favorite foods. There’s also great cross-curricular potential in then getting students to actually cook some of the dishes they’ve learnt about!


So, whether you’re inspired by the Great British Bake Off, classic French cuisine, or simple pancakes, there’s a never-ending stream of potential lesson ideas to be developed from this popular topic! 


4. Try TikTok!

It’s highly likely that many of your students will be avid users of TikTok and it’s, therefore, no surprise that many language educators are using TikTok content or techniques to engage their students.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out Nibaldo, a Spanish Teacher in the USA, whose Spanish for Everyday account has 2.4m followers and 60m likes. Short and snappy, his outgoing personality makes studying a real pleasure. Or follow this educator’s example – he gets students to record themselves speaking for the “max. length of a TikTok” (60 seconds). This helps keep the learning task achievable, engaging, and relevant for all students. 


National language teaching institutions such as The Goethe Institute are also great examples of this trend. Their TikTok channel provides tips, tricks, and explanations to “improve your knowledge of German and gain insights into what Germany is really like”.


5. Work with something cute and cuddly!

It can be important to mix up your teaching approach and to add a little variety to lessons, particularly given that students have been learning remotely for so long. Without it, lessons merge into each other and it can be difficult to capture their attention.

Jessica West, a French and Spanish teacher, has a great solution to this problem – she uses a cuddly toy, in her case a sloth! As this example demonstrates, it’s a great way to engage learners and to build their listening skills and vocabulary. 


6. What about emojis?

Although often seen as the enemy of formal sentence construction and grammar, the emoji can be powerfully deployed as a language teaching tool. As with TikTok above, using emojis is a great way to engage younger students and can quickly get them involved in a lesson.

This great example from a French and Spanish teacher uses the humble emoji to get her students writing (and drawing) sentences in their target language. Easily applicable to any language lesson, this is also a great way to leverage relevant online teaching tools and as an end-of-topic summary. 


7. Give online games a go

These products have long been used by language educators to engage students and help build vocab and language skills. As schools globally continue to combine online with face-to-face instruction, we expect to see such tools maintain their rapid, recent growth. 


8. Rap superstar

Getting students to talk in front of their peers can often be a challenge, but some innovative teachers have found that getting them to rap (particularly boys) is often easier!

Students can either learn and repeat their favourite raps in their target language or use them as inspiration to create their own as seen in this great example from a UK French language class. As the educator notes, “Learning to rap enhances memory due to constant repetition as key messages are recited through the rap song chorus.”

9. Exploding books! Surely not? 

Learning vocabulary is a necessary but not always engaging challenge for many learners. It can therefore be difficult to find creative ways to support students, particularly if the activity is always led by the teacher.

That’s why we love this idea from @mfl_swavesey! Getting students to create these amazing explosion books is a brilliant cross-curricular way to keep keywords front of mind. As you can see from their great examples below, these small, square books “explode” into a series of square and triangular pages when they’re opened. Each student builds and creates their own book using a variety of colours and craft materials!


10. Perfect podcasts

According to recent research, more than half of all US consumers above the age of 12 now listen to podcasts. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that they can also be an amazing source of information and inspiration for language educators. And with over 850,000 different podcasts currently available, you are bound to find one in your target language and on a topic you’re passionate about.

But some teachers (as always!) take this to the next level. A wonderful example of this is JE Teach, whose Le But : Foot podcast is a great French language resource using the topic of French football. Aimed at intermediate to advanced language learners, it’s also supported by detailed support resources for teachers.

Bonus tip! – Sharing best teaching tips to your colleagues

With customers in 114 countries and over 50,000 classrooms, Sanako has a really clear picture about how to best help language teachers improve their students’ language skills. From talking to customers, it’s really clear that they value hearing/learning from their peers and sharing tips and tricks of the trade.

That’s why we actively share customer stories on our website and why our international reseller network includes them in their communications as well. This recent Spring 2021 edition newsletter from our UK reseller is a great example and highlights how schools and universities in the UK have implemented our software.


If you’d like to find out more about Sanako’s language teaching software solutions, then please contact us NOW to arrange your free demo!


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