5 ways to increase student engagement

April 6, 2022


Everyone wants students who are engaged during the lesson. But how do you increase student engagement without having to change everything in your lesson? That is what this post is all about!

Estimated time to read this article: 5 minutes

Why student engagement is key to CLIL

In my opinion, one of the two main elements of teaching CLIL is making sure all students are engaged.

After all, you cannot learn a language by simply reading about it. You have to implement it to achieve mastery.

Motivating engagement and involving all students is a something vital for any CLIL lesson. (Actually, I’d argue this is the case for any lesson, not just CLIL, but that is a topic for another time)

But what can you actually do in your lesson to increase student engagement?

First of all: think in baby steps! Don’t try to change the way you teach all of a sudden.

I have seen and experienced that many times only a small change can already have a huge effect.

That is why I’d like to share five, easy to implement ideas that can be used in any CLIL lesson.

Key Take Away

As CLIL is often used to teach a second language, making sure students are actively using this language is key to mastering this language.

1. Share learning objectives

If you share the learning objectives of the lesson in a way the students understand exactly what is expected of them (so not in the book publishers’ language), they will be more motivated to learn instead of not knowing what they need to do.

And to make this ‘more CLIL’, this is also a good moment to share new language students have to know in order to understand the new material.

Setting expectations and communicating that with students goes a long way when it comes to motivation and eagerness to learn in my experience.

Surely, students are not always interested in the topic itself. They probably did not wake up this morning thinking “I really want to learn how to calculate the hypotenuse of a triangle”, but they will feel successful if they notice they learned something new at the end of a lesson.

Something they could not do before.

2. Randomly select students

There are always students who prefer to not do anything in your lesson. They will not raise their hands and do their absolute best to not participate.

I am afraid I cannot solve that for you 😊.

But you can get these students to stop ‘hiding’.

Simply by selecting students randomly instead of asking for raised hands.

There are multiple ways to randomly select students, but the most important thing is: to make sure they all need to participate.

Classdojo in an online CLIL lesson

Classdojo to randomly select students

3. Involve students in your instruction

When the teacher talks, students listen. But that does not mean they cannot actively participate.

By asking them to complete tasks while listening students are more likely to actually be engaged and learn.

I won’t go into a lot of detail in this post because I have written a lot about this before, but you do not want your students to sit back and ‘enjoy the show’.

They need to learn. They need to be active. They need to work in order to achieve that.

That is what student engagement is about.

4. Check for understanding of the task

After you have designated a task for students it might be useful to ask: “Does everyone understand the task?”.

Apart from the fact you might be able to pick up on misunderstandings (both content and language-related), this also gives you an effective reply to students who are not working because ‘they don’t know what to do’. They should have raised their hands earlier.

5. Share in their own words

At the end of a lesson, asking students to describe a new concept or the topic of the lesson in their own words is a great way to make sure everyone is engaged.

After all: there is no right or wrong. And students are producing language output.

Key here is to first ask students to actually write their answers down before asking some students to give their answers. Accommodating student thinking time is always a good idea, but may be even more essential in a CLIL lesson.


What do you think?

Which of these 5 ideas are you already implementing? Or do you want to try one in your next lesson? Let me know how it goes!

To finish up, allow me to share a quote from Benjamin Franklin:

“Tell me and I forget

Teach me and I may remember

Involve me and I learn” 

Benjamin Franklin (I think)

I don’t think I could have said it any better myself 😊.

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