As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 gets ever closer, many of us have already started looking to the year ahead with one question in mind:
How can we make this our best year yet?
Armed with all the optimism in the world, we set out to create goals covering just about all aspects of our lives.
Before we know it, we're amped up and ready to become fitter, happier, healthier, and wealthier than ever.
Yet before you get too swept up in the excitement of plotting those big New Year's Resolutions, have you stopped to consider how you could improve your ESL lessons in the coming year?
Don't worry, it's not too late.
With January almost upon us, we've put our team to work on providing you with the best expert tips and insights on how to truly engage and inspire your students in the new year.
The best part?
We've even scoured the web to bring you the best ESL teaching resources for 2019, all designed to help you make next year's lessons ones that your pupils will love.
Build Your Lessons Around Big Events
There are few ways more guaranteed to keep students fully engaged in learning by building lessons around current events.
Only recently, we shared with you our guide to planning Christmas-themed ESL lessons, but why stop there?
What about building lessons around Valentine's Day? Or how about Black History Month, St. Patrick's Day, or Mardi Gras?
Sure, that all sounds like a good idea, but let's be honest:
Pulling together enough resources around major events and holidays can be a complete hassle.
That's where ESL Library comes in handy.
The company has put together a comprehensive ESL Lesson Plan Calendar which not only lists all the big holidays that you're familiar with but also schedules in some unique events such as the birthdays of notable people like Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein.
What's more, the calendar lists a full list of resources for each event that you can access for as little as $5.42.
Go Big for Chinese New Year
Not sure where to start when it comes to planning your ESL lessons around major events and holidays?
You could do a lot worse than starting with Chinese New Year.
Also known as Spring Festival, it begins properly on February 5th, but festivities usually begin a few days before in what's known as "Little Year" and carry on until February 15th.
Why does Chinese New Year make such a great source for a lesson plan?
Because it's an event packed full of history, colorful creations and captivating mythology which means that no matter whether you're teaching English to young children or adults, there's plenty of ways that you can tailor material to suit your students.
Twinkle has lots of colorful Chinese New Year resources for younger children. For adults and more advanced students, TeachingEnglish from the BBC and British Council have a fully-prepared 60-minute lesson plan which can be useful for adding animal-related vocabulary as well as for practicing saying the names of years.
Run More Webquests
For the uninitiated, webquests are fun, interactive lessons in which students journey across the web to find information and resources to answer questions and complete tasks.
We recently featured a Christmas webquest in our guide to holiday-themed resources, but you can find quests on just about any subject you can think of.
Webquest.org, for example, is the web's largest database of such lessons and is full of highly engaging webquests on everything from creating an English language picture book to planning travel brochures and more.
Zunal also has lots of webquests where students can learn and explore a broad range of topics.
Best of all, if you're feeling inspired to create your own webquests that both your students and others can use, then Zunal has all the tools you need to do just that, free of charge.
Gamify Your Lessons
Gamification has become increasingly popular over the last few years. As the name implies, it's all about turning normal processes such as learning into fun, interactive games.
This might mean you turn vocabulary learning into a memory game, revamp reading comprehension as a fun storytelling game, or even use concepts from students' favorite console games in your ESL classroom.
Vickie Davis at Edutopia lists a whole host of ways that educators can gamify learning experiences, along with providing links to further reading and resources.
Create Fun Animations and Digital Avatars
Voki is a unique product that you'll love every bit as much as your students do.
It allows users to design their own avatars that can then be told to speak words or phrases.
This adds a whole new level of interaction and creativity to the classroom. It also proves very popular among students who lack the confidence to speak or present their learning in a group environment. Instead of doing it themselves, they simply get Voki to do the work for them.
Voki offers a free account for one teacher and five students. This includes a basic character set and limited access to its classrooms and other products.
Priced models run from $4.99 for 30 students to $9.99 per month for 90 students. All models come with a 15-day free trial.
Take Your Students on a Virtual Field Trip
The nature of teaching English as a Second Language online may mean that you can't exactly pack your students on a bus and take them off for a day at the National Museum, but that doesn't mean an educational field trip needs to be completely out of the question.
Websites such as Nature Works Everywhere from The Nature Conservatory offer the chance to take students on epic adventures through rainforests, deep into the deserts and grasslands of Africa, and on into the Coral Reefs of Palau.
Elsewhere, you can take students on virtual tours of major sites across the world, from Buckingham Palace and The National Gallery in London, England, to Mount Rushmore and even The White House.
Did we miss out any of your favorite resources for engaging and inspiring students? Share them with us in the comments below and let us know how you're planning to deliver your best lessons ever in 2019.
Until then, on behalf of all of us here at TwoSigmas, here’s wishing you a very happy and successful New Year.