Solving the problem of a distracted Bready


Whether we are preoccupied with other thoughts, day dreaming, or just plain tired, we are all been guilty of occasionally “switching off” from the task at hand. 

You may have had a long day at work, be undergoing a challenging emotional experience, or you might have simply not slept long enough the night before. 

Whatever the reason, the human tendency to “zone out” is a perfectly natural reaction that happens to even the most focused and prudent students. We are all creatures of habit after all. 


Scientific studies reveal that the average attention span of healthy teenagers and adults is around twenty minutes for each activity….not very long at all! 

Now imagine that you are one of our Breadies after a long day at school. It is approaching 8PM and rather than relax and finish your studies for the day, you are signed into an online classroom learning a second language. The appeal to switch off or to convince your English teacher to make the lesson less challenging can seem all too tempting…

The problem is that a distracted student will limit his own or her own ability to learn. This experience can also be frustrating and upsetting for an instructor.

So how can we as teachers’ combat this challenge and plan lessons that keep students engaged? What methods should be used?  And what are some of the early warning signs to look out for if a Bready is starting to switch off?


The student constantly changes the topic of discussion:


Be careful with this one as it could be happening without you even realising it. Your Bready may be trying to avoid doing the set lesson plan by distracting you with other topics. It is important that as teachers we find the right balance between cordial chats and the lesson plans our students are supposed to be learning. 


You need to repeat yourself numerous times:


It is important to take action early on when you sense that a student is not paying attention. The best tool is to turn the discussion around and get the student talking as much as possible…


What can you do to engage the student more?




The importance of retaining a student’s eye-contact cannot be stressed enough! Whenever an activity has our attention we give it our full focus with our eyes. An immediate giveaway that there is a problem is if your student is not looking at you. This probably means he or she is also not really listening to you either. As a result, your students will miss out on vital information and retain very little of what was covered in the session. 

The most important step to take in this situation is to re-establish eye contact with your student as quickly as you can. 

Maybe you could use more props (such as stuffed animals and colourful objects), change the activity you are doing, or try to engage them with a quick game?


Try making the discussion about them: 


You could ask your Bready about an activity they enjoy doing, such as playing a video game, sports, partaking in a musical or learning an instrument?


Ask the student to listen and repeat after you:


By doing this you are ensuring that they are actively participating. 


If they seem really tired take a brief break from the lesson and definitely play a game!


You can revisit the lesson once your student is more excited and focused. We all know how difficult it can be to concentrate after a long day at school or work. 


Nicely but firmly repeat a Bready’s name: 

This trick cannot be understated. We all learn from an early age to respond when we hear our names called. It is a natural instinct, so use it! 



Although it can feel very discouraging to have a distracted student in a lesson, try to put yourself in their shoes and think of what might get you excited and refocused. This is a tendency we are all prone to doing once in a while, and it is important that as teachers we continue to stay positive and motivated throughout the lesson to counteract any other distractions a student may be thinking about! 




2018-02-27 18:16


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