10 Creative and Interactive Activities for Teaching English Online

An online lesson always seems to be lacking something. Ordinary exercises and textbooks are boring and mundane without “real language situations”. Let’s make online classes more interesting and interactive. Find out about new creative teaching materials for ESL! 

What is interactivity online?

For most people the first thing that comes to mind when they think about interactivity online is interactive exercises. Language teaching when students can click, move things with a finger, check a task automatically and see the answers. 

As for me, interactivity is not just moving things with your finger and it’s not just auto-checking. Interactivity is about getting people engaged via communication and keeping them active throughout a lesson and after it. Eventually, we should make students go to the outside world, outside the classroom and make them communicate with people. It will be especially beneficial for adults and more confident learners. This is interactivity as active communication, besides just interactive exercises with auto-check.

example of an interactive online exercise

Teachers will need to expand their ability to locate resources online, introduce learners to techniques for self-directed learning, and promote a healthy sense of adventure through risk taking and goal setting. ( Dr. Shane Dixon)

Creative and interactive language materials for online English classes

1. YouTube comments 

One of my examples of unconventional materials is YouTube comments as a source of natural vocabulary. Students can read comments, write new words and write their own comments! Also, they can make their own videos on YouTube!

2. Facebook reviews 

Cafe or hotel reviews on Facebook are really full of real English vocabulary. Check out your favorite restaurant, theater or cinema and your speaking activity is ready! Students can join different learning groups or make their own study group as well. 

3. Ask followers on Instagram 

If students have Instagram, they can ask and interact with their audience on Instagram or on other social media platforms. For example, recently I’ve had a lesson on character and personality and my student has a big audience on Instagram. She told me enthusiastically that she would ask her followers what her character is like. This is how we integrate our teaching into real life and get students interested in learning.

4. Specialized websites and blogs

For example, if it’s a topic about clothes, we can use shopping websites and blogs. Eventually, maybe our students can write a comment to a blog post and there is always a chance that they get a reply. 

5. Pinterest boards

An interesting example of a creative study material is Pinterest. We can create boards and collect pictures and it’s great for collecting ideas about a specific subject. For example, if we need to describe a house or a room, we can find different types of houses and rooms on Pinterest for speaking activities. 

6. Make your own interactive space 

We can use different online tools for this purpose. We can use blog platforms, website platforms such as WordPress, Google SlidesPadlet, YouTube, podcast platforms, etc. 

For example, you have a topic about healthy food for adult elementary students. On one single web page you can include other videos for practice, add interactive tests straight into your page, more audio exercises, texts, pictures, etc. And it’s all conveniently on the same page with one specific topic. 

7. Ask an influencer for help

One time, a Slovene blogger, I liked, helped me to make my lesson on minimalism more interactive. I didn’t have audio and I didn’t want just plain text as the main language material for my lesson. Then I asked the blogger for an audio file of her post on minimalism. As a result, I have an interesting lesson with audio now! 

8. Virtual tours and live webcam streams

Let’s explore various places all over the world in the comfort of our homes! It is perfect for talking about feelings and impressions of a particular place and to start a new topic. 

9. Sound to boost creativity and imagination 

You can use different sounds according to the topic you are teaching. Play the sound and  students can guess what they hear. In addition, they learn more about the history of different things. In my case, at the lesson on fast fashion I used the sound of a 19th century machine for making fabrics.

10. Interactive wheels

Useful for any topic: sport, food, transport. Practice speaking about preferences, grammar or vocabulary aspects and anything you want! You can make your own wheel too!

That’s how you can interact with the “outside world” community and explore the sources of natural language. Interactivity and creativity in online teaching go beyond just convenient, ready-to-use tests. It includes active participation and broadening of traditional learning and teaching space

What are your unconventional teaching resources and tools?

Polina Nesterova is an ESL teacher with more than five years of experience in teaching English online. She has taught English in Korea, obtained a CPE certificate, and is the content creator of Learn Slovene&Korean&English blog.


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