81% of ESL Teachers Use Celebrities to Engage Students

81% of ESL (English as a second language) teachers use English-speaking celebrities to engage their students during lessons, according to a new study.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges revealed that 81% of ESL teachers use English-speaking celebrities to enhance lessons and help students improve their understanding of the language.

Kaplan discovered that Barack Obama was the most popular English-speaking celebrity used by ESL teachers with 57% stating that they introduced the President during lessons to increase their student’s interest in learning the English language.

The President was more popular than the British Royal Family as only 35% of ESL teachers used the Windsors to engage students. David Beckham was the most popular sports star with 28% using the England soccer player. Pop singers Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber polled 15% and 11% respectively.

Katie Hull Sypnieski, co-author of The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels, said: “In our ESL classes my teaching partner, Larry Ferlazzo, and I use international celebrities to increase engagement with our students. We also use celebrities in our lessons on developing successful life skills.

“In these lessons, we focus on the non-cognitive traits of celebrities such as self-control, taking personal responsibility, and having grit. For example, in a lesson on personal responsibility, we use quotes and videos of President Obama admitting his mistakes and accepting responsibility for them.”

Kaplan surveyed more than 500 ESL teachers from 40 countries to discover what tools they use to enhance their lessons. The results of Kaplan’s “How to Teach English” survey have been published as an infographic. The infographic page has quotes covering all aspects of the research.

Other survey results include:

  • 86% of ESL Teachers have used music in class: The Beatles being the most popular band (used by 40% of those surveyed).
  • 76% have used Movies in class: The Harry Potter series being the most popular.
  • 75% have used Newspapers in class: The New York Times being the most popular.
  • 60% have used TV shows in class: Mr Bean being the most popular.
  • 34% have used the Radio in class: The BBC World Service being the most popular.
  • 33% have used Comics in class: Spider-Man being the most popular.
  • 24% have used Computer Games in class: The Sims being the most popular.

Kaplan surveyed 503 ESL teachers from: the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Russia, India, South Korea, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Greece, Vietnam, Spain, Cuba, France, Taiwan, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Mexico, Iran, Ukraine, Jamaica, Malaysia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Czech Republic, Latvia, Uganda, Malta, Singapore and Chile.

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