ESL Tips: Make it Stick with SUCCESs

In Dan and Chip Heath’s book called “Made to Stick”, they discuss about making content sticky by presenting principles under the acronym SUCCESs. If you have not read the book, I suggest you purchase it and read through it yourself. In this tip, I will only scratch the surface but hopefully, it will beneficial to your lesson plans.

Below is a snapshot from their website summarizing the SUCCESs principles. Basically, your objective to make something stick is by being Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and by presenting in a story. You don’t necessarily need to use all these principles in one go but it does help. Do your lesson plans or style follow this format in anyway?

Made to Stick Principles
Made to Stick

SIMPLE: What is the purpose of your lesson, that is, what do you want the student walking away learning? By the end of the lesson, can the student use the language or handle the situation with simplicity or do they get overly complicated and lose their point? Keep It Simple Silly (KISS) is the way to go.

UNEXPECTED: Keep your client on their toes with new materials. Don’t get repetitive. Consistency is important but make sure the content isn’t dull. Most teachers start with “How is it going” or along these lines. Doesn’t this get old? Is it really that beneficial too?

CONCRETE: What’s the hook in your lesson? What will capture the students attention so they stay focused for the whole time? Is it getting them to role-play at the start to see if they know the language already? This may help you to adjust the language so you can meet their needs better.

CREDIBLE: Is your lesson practical? Are you developing their needs for situations they may encounter or you creating a lesson because you know you can stretch it? If you understand your students needs, perhaps you can cater the lesson with a higher quality.

EMOTIONAL: Language is very flexible.  In Japan, many students don’t put emphasis on their words. Are you getting them to practice tone of voice? Are you showing and getting them to put emotion into their words? It isn’t easy but emotion is important.

STORY: Practicing giving short stories is tough work but if students can present themselves by giving short dialogues, they will likely get more practice using what they learned. I usually try to open the lesson with having the student give me a 5-10 min story at the office or on a recent trip though I prefer something revolving around today’s topic.

You can spin these principles in many different ways. This is just one way to give you an idea. You can deliver lesson plans that are much more sticky to be more successful. Remember, when the student walks away and two days later pass, they may reflect and think, “What did I study the other day?” And if they can recall very clearly, you may very well be seeing them again!

You also teach your student this concept as they may use it in their day to day life. They may find it valuable as well!

Good luck with your teaching and building a stronger relationship with your students!

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