To be successful as an online English teacher or school owner you need to maximize attendance and student retention.

This is what ESL education looks like today for many students and teachers

(or ELT, EFL, TEFL, TESL, English education…) Many students all over the world

are feeling down and depressed. They’ve lost motivation to learn English and

it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to keep them motivated and inspired.

This is having a negative effect on how often students come to class and how

long they continue coming.

Students learning English often give up
Why do students learning English lose motivation and give up?

Your English school can do better.

For many English teachers and schools, things were humming along

nicely and then BAM! Covid-19 sent us all packing for our home office.

Overnight online education became the norm.

Sending old-school teachers into a panic, their classes into disarray, and

learners into a frustrating, lonely world.

Students were left thinking and asking. “What am I supposed to do next? How

am I doing? What’s the goal and purpose of this/that activity?”  

Not to mention the social component was completely lost.

How did it come to this? 

Technology should maximize student learning potential by integrating the

most effective methods, tools and science available. Yet the education sector

has been the slowest to adopt and embrace technology.

As a result, instead of being ready for COVID, many were left scrambling to use

technology in some or any form. Many of the tools and activities served no real

educational purpose. They really didn’t help students move forward or give

them a real sense of accomplishment.

Instead students were left without clear goals or purpose. Student anxiety and

depression are up and motivation to learn English is down.

Why are we so behind?

How could the education industry have been caught so off guard? More

specifically, how could English schools have been caught so off guard?

Why have so many English schools been so reluctant to offer hybrid

solutions? Organized institutions have hurdles and hoops with politics and

bureaucracy, and so it’s easier to see how and why. I didn’t say understand, but

just see how and why. English teacherpreneurs and schools though … they

have no excuse. 

– Doesn’t it just make more sense to have a learning management system that

is stacked with proven methods and techniques to optimize student learning


– Doesn’t it just make sense to offer students the choice to take English classes

in person or remotely?

– Doesn’t it just make sense to appeal to 21st century learner preferences and


What do 21st-century English language learners expect?

English language learners expectations

21st century learners expect a lot!

For one, we are accustomed to instantly finding things out (think Google). If we

want a new recipe, we Google it. If we have a disagreement with a friend, we

Google the answer. Within seconds we “learn” things.

This is called micro-learning and it’s completely changed how many people

approach learning. And for a number of good reasons.

1. You can learn something quickly.

2. You can learn things that you’re interested in.

3. For almost anything you Google, there are images which help you visualize

and remember things.

4. For almost anything you Google, you have the choice between reading

about it or watching a video. And guess what? Most people choose video. The

interesting thing to keep in mind here is that visual aids actually help us

remember things. This holds especially true for facts and … vocabulary.

What about that “Magic English Pill”?

Learn English with the magic English pill

Twenty-first century learners also expect results. They expect the “magic pill”

effect. Why? Because technology has made everything so much easier to do.

Though there’s still no “magic pill” for learning English, there are things that

help make your students feel they are making progress. Progress lines that

are a part of most learning management systems are a great example of this. 

They let us know immediately how far we’ve progressed and how far we have

to go to complete something. There’s no guesswork.

Micro-interactions are another example. Micro-interaction is just a fancy term

for those things that pop up on the screen and tell you that you’ve completed

something. For example, a thumbs up, or a badge. Micro-interactions provide 3

main purposes:

1. They communicate status and provide feedback

2. They help people to see the results of their actions

3. They enhance our sense of control that we have over actions

I for one, love micro-interactions and many argue that they’re the reason so

many people love learning apps like Duolingo (enter the little waving owl!)

Last, but definitely not least …

And of course there’s gamification. Everything is gamified these days. We earn

points for this, awards for that. Badges for this and stamps for that. We’ll go

into detail for all of these, but start putting some thought into these.

These are just a few of the things that can make a significant impact on

whether your students come to tomorrow’s lesson or they give up. It can

influence whether they quit today or continue learning English. 

Incorporating these things in your lessons, courses and system will make a

significant difference in how often students come to classes and how long

they continue to study for. Find ways to keep them engaged outside of the

classroom and feeling like they are moving forward.

We would love to talk with you about your English teaching goals and how

Pocket Passport can make your educational goals a reality.

Almost forgot!  We have tons of FREE high frequency vocabulary materials

that are sure to boost student scores on the TOEIC, IELTS and other exams.  

Check out how Pocket Passport can help make your teaching goals-and your

students dreams a reality. And also very importantly how your class

occupancy and student retention can be higher.

  • Why do students learning English lose motivation?


  • Why do students give up learning English?


WARNING: The following email is deep! Make sure that you’ve had your

morning coffee!


Students often ask, “how can I improve?”


Our lives and priorities are all different. However there are some things that

are pretty much universal.


Of course, friends, family, love and health are all consistently at the top of

everyone’s list.


However, without fail among the top 10 most important things in everyone’s

life, are purpose, passion, self development and potential.


Why are purpose, passion and potential so important?


Starting with purpose; having a goal and a specific target is a huge determiner

of happiness and life satisfaction.


They fit in with dreams, career aspirations, personal meaning of what success



People search for their purpose. It’s a natural instinct to look for the purpose in

everything that we do. The reason that we exist. Why am I doing this? Why am

I here?


If it isn’t clearly defined for us, we will inevitably give up on whatever goal and

challenge we are facing. Students often start out with clear goals, but quickly

lose sight of what they are. The mountain is too high so to speak.


As a teacher, your purpose is to guide students to their potential. Clearly tell,

show and demonstrate what the purpose of the activity, lesson and course is.


Give your students short, achievable goals that they can reach. Make them

feel like they are always moving forward and consistently making progress.


What do you mean by “passion”?


Passion comes in all shapes and sizes and it looks different for everyone. But

there’s one thing that’s very hard to disagree with. Passion helps maintain our

psychological well-being. Simply put, it wakes us up in the morning. Without it,

every day feels like a gray, rainy, miserable day. A day that we don’t want to get

up out of bed.


People become passionate about things because of something or someone.

It’s usually a person that helps fuel a passion.


Help ignite your students passions. How? Part of a teacher’s job description is

coach and motivator. Ask your students to read a passage with intonation and

rhythm. Do it again and ask them to stand up using body language to

emphasize key points. There are lots of ways to show and bring out passion.


Help your students reach their potential


Potential is that proverbial dangling carrot in front of us.


As teachers and leaders, it’s our job to guide, coach and push students to

reach their potential.


Our students are the heroes.


We are their guides, showing them the way. Reminding them of the purpose of

something step by step. Cultivating their passion by bringing energy into

lessons. Helping and guiding them to truly develop and reach their potential.


And anything less means that you should be looking for another job.


There are powerful tools to simplify these things. The 21st century learner’s

expectations include:


being able to achieve something in a short time (bite-sized lessons: micro-




  • instantly seeing and feeling progress: a visual representation (course progress



  • reaching goals: being rewarded with badges or something that signifies that

they’ve achieved something


  • a feeling of self accomplishment which ultimately comes from being

evaluated or given feedback which highlights strengths (encourages them)

with a balance and the right tone of feedback on areas for improvement

(challenges them)


Here’s to keeping our students motivated, inspired and on the right track.