Native speakers, in our english class…

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Michelle Gerber, is an amazing artist and writer from South Africa! I was honoured to have her in my class!

Connecting kids to the Reason for learning is such an important part of creating and maintaining motivation.  And while the reason for learning another language is to speak with people, many students might pass through an entire year of class without ever speaking with a native speaker of that language.


She talked to my 4th graders about the jungle and taught them how to draw jungle animals using shapes!

Getting native speakers into the classroom then is one way that I believe we can help students connect with the motivation boosting Purpose for learning language.

There are two challenges in this of course.  The first is finding native speakers with time to come to your class. The second is knowing what to do with them.  I will leave the first problem to you to solve.  Be creative.  Be bold in asking. You can find native speakers pretty much anywhere to help you out with this once in a while.


She read her beautiful book to my 5th graders and talked about bullying and friendship!

The second is a bit more challenging.  What you don’t want to do is put it on the native speaker to prepare something.  That’s your job as teacher, not theirs.  You could of course have them come and share about a topic – which is a great idea.  Prep your kids the week before by getting them into the topic, preparing questions, listening to recordings of others speaking on the topic and writing about the topic themselves.  I think that would be a great class period and a lot of fun and something you could do regularlyDSCN5035

This, can not only give your students a ton of input in the course of one class period, but also begin to connect them to native speakers.  And it is the connection that will be a big part of creating the motivation that will begin to build in your students a love for the language and the people who speak it.


She talked with all my classes about her country

 Bringing a guest speaker into our class is an opportunity we should seek out. Our students will be exposed to a different style of spoken English, and they might also learn content that will benefit their educations. Just bringing a guest in and letting him or her speak, however, is not always enough.

Here are some of my  tips to make sure your students are getting the full benefit of the guest speaker experience:

Prepare Your Students on the Topic

All students will benefit from some preparation as to the subject matter your guest will discuss. However, the level to which you should prepare your students will vary greatly depending on the language level of your class.mosaic michelle 5

Prepare Your Students on the Speaker

It is also a good idea to give your students some advanced information about who will be speaking to them.

Prepare Your Students on Behavior


My students had lots of questions to ask!

For example, they should listen quietly to the guest speaker. They can ask questions, but it is most polite to wait until the end of the presentation to do so. They should make eye contact with the speaker, and it is appropriate to take notes while the presenter is speaking.

Prepare the Speaker on Language Level

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They were highly enganged during all the activities!

Not all speakers are familiar with speakers of English as a second language. In fact, it will probably benefit your class more if your guest speaker is not an ESL teacher. With this in mind, it is not a bad idea to prepare her as to the language level of your students before she comes to class to speak.

Have Your Students Prepare Questions

Thinking of questions for a guest speaker can be very challenging to most ESL students, especially if you ask them to do it on the spot. Therefore, it is beneficial to have your students write some follow-up questions for your speaker before the day he is scheduled to come to class.

Engage Your Students


My 6th graders had the chance to interview her about her life and homeland!


Before you even invite a guest speaker, think about what kind of speaker from whom your students would most benefit.

Encourage your speaker to engage your students as she speaks, and select those guest speakers who you think will be able to do this for your class. The lower the language level of your class the more important this engagement is. To help your speaker, make sure you have everything she will need for the presentation including a projector or television if necessary. Make sure you talk with your speaker ahead of time to see what she will need so you are not scrambling when she shows up at your classroom door.

Who to Invite


Make the most of any connections you can between your curriculum and your guest speaker to benefit your students.

Try to bring in speakers of different ages with different ethnic and geographical backgrounds. It is also helpful if the speaker is not a teacher of English since his or her speech patterns will be more realistic even if more challenging for your students.

Debrief Your Students

Debriefing is important both for making sure your students understood today’s presentation as well as preparing them for future presentations. After your speaker has left and your class has asked their questions, ask your students how they felt about the experience.

It is always important, to thank your guest with a little present made by the whole class!

It is always important, to thank your guest with a little present made by the whole class!


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