There are different times during our classes when we need to regain our students’ attention. Either because our students are transitioning from different classes or from activities we are doing in our own language classes, or because some of them are being too social, or we simply need to regroup. In any situation, it is always handy to have different strategies to capture our students’ attention. I definitely have a few that I keep in my teacher toolbox in case one doesn’t work. Here are some of the ones I use:
1. Three-Tone Chime: This one is by far my favorite because the soothing sound brings some calm to my classes, and also because it gives me the opportunity to verbally accompany this signal. When students hear the first chime, it gives them the heads up to stop what they are doing, with the second chime they are ready to look at me, and with the third chime they are ready for what comes next.
2. Chants or Verbal Attention Getters: The teacher says a phrase and the students respond to it (call and response). I like using visuals that go along with them. I usually print them out and add magnets on the back and place them on the magnetic whiteboard. I also like adding some culture. For example, when I say “Wepa, wepa, wepa”, students respond by “Wepa, wepa, je”. This gives us the opportunity to talk about the word wepa which is used in the Caribbean and some parts of Colombia to express joy and excitement. You can also hear it in some vallenato songs.
3. Quick hand game: I particularly love this one because it gives students the opportunity to start joining in and also gives them time to see that we are getting ready to transition or that I need their attention. The quick hand game in the reel is accompanied by lowering our voices.
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Just like any other part of your class routine, attention getters require practice and consistency to make the routines and rituals stick. It’s also important to add some fun elements to them and have more than one at hand!