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Getting the hares back in the race




Student asleep in classAhead of his talk at IATEFL Liverpool, Edmund Dudley looks at ways of motivating certain difficult types of teenage learners.

I have two types of teenage student.

First, there are the tortoises. They feel they do not have enough English lessons in a week. Whatever their level of English might be, they feel it is not good enough – or that they will never be good enough to have a conversation with a native speaker or to enjoy a film in English. They feel slow and awkward.

I know how to work with this kind of student – and how important it is to be patient, encouraging and supportive. I think we all do.

What about the second type?

The second type are the hares. They are the ones who feel that they have too many English lessons in a week. They are happy with their level of English – in fact, they are in a kind of comfort zone. They can speak well in class – when they feel like it. They watch films and TV series in English outside class without much difficulty. They like and value English. They just don’t want to spend time studying  English in class. They would rather sleep!

Does that sound familiar?

If so, here are some questions to consider. What is the best way to work with teenagers like this? How can we get them out of their comfort zone? Is there any way to help them rediscover their appetite for learning English? How can we get them back in the race?

Over the years I have had to work with a lot of hares. It is quite a challenge.

Tortoises tend to be pretty hard on themselves; hares, on the other hand, give themselves an easy ride. In order to motivate them, we need to be able devise tasks and activities that appeal to their sense of challenge, relevance, value and novelty.

My session will consider these key concepts in the context of the classroom and will illustrate  them with practical examples taken from my own classroom in Pécs, Hungary.

So what can you expect?


We will look at an innovative way of getting students to give presentations in class. Prepare for PowerPoint shows as you have never seen them done before!


Can I get a witness? How accurate would you be if you had to give an eyewitness account? There will be a chance for you to test your own powers of observation – and hear about an idea that will put your students in the witness box.


‘What do you want to do?’ is a question frequently associated with the learner-centred teacher. I will be trying to put a new spin on this question, to give it new significance by sharing a simple but striking way to highlight community connections and promote real awareness among students.


Try talking about learning strategies and study skills to your students – and watch their eyes glaze over. I will be sharing a novel technique for displaying notes and answering language questions that help students to go with the flow.

So whether your teenage students are tortoises, hares – or a combination of both – I hope there will be something in the workshop to help keep them in the race!

Ideas and activities in the session will be linked to OUP’s insight series.

Edmund Dudley will be talking about High-Achieving Secondary Students: An Insight into Motivation and Challenge at IATEFL Liverpool on Thursday 11th April in Hall 13 at 2:45pm. You can also find him at Ed in the crowds, his personal blog.


  1. Getting the hares back in the race | Merit Teacher's Digest - Young Learners | Scoop.it

    […] Ahead of his talk at IATEFL Liverpool, Edmund Dudley looks at ways of motivating certain difficult types of teenage learners. I have two types of teenage student. First, there are the tortoises.  […]

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