I’ve yet to come across someone who doesn’t struggle with time management in one way or another. How we use our time is often not very efficient, and with a plethora of things fighting for our attention, it’s easy to become distracted.
Whether you’re looking to use your time more efficiently in the classroom, improve your students’ focus and engagement, or teach your students more about how to manage their own time, this time management technique is perfect for your adult ESL classroom!
The Pomodoro Technique is a strategy to help you focus and improve your productivity by using a simple kitchen timer to alternate bursts of work and rest. It’s a great technique to use in your classroom to help structure your class, engage your students over longer periods of time, and create a healthy study environment.
Trying to Maximize Your Time in the Classroom?
What is Pomodoro?
The Pomodoro Technique was originally developed by Frances Cocirillo and quickly gained traction with those who are self-employed, college and university students, and just about everyone else. Because of the simplicity of the technique, which only requires a timer, employees, recent grads, and high school students alike are all able to manage their time using Cocirillo’s strategy.
A quick Pinterest search for ‘The Pomodoro Technique’ will yield results such as helpful infographics, promises to kick procrastination in the butt, and even tips on how to use the technique to ace specific tests.
If you aren’t familiar with the technique, it simply asks you to set a timer for 25 minutes. Within those 25 minutes you are to focus on the task at hand, such as writing an essay, reorganizing your class notes, cleaning out your pantry, or whatever you may be looking to accomplish. During this time you should be actively eliminating distractions. Shut off your phone and don’t open your web browser, just focus.
When the 25 minutes are up, track your progress (using a simply check mark on a piece of paper) and set another timer for 5 minutes. This is your period of rest. Take a walk, drink your coffee, or just give yourself time to disengage from your task at hand.
Restart your timer for 25 minutes and continue following this pattern of work and rest for 4 pomodoros or 4 sets of 25 minutes. After you’ve finished the 4th pomodoro, take a longer break. Cocirillo recommends 20-30 minutes on his website. This longer break gives your brain time to rest and fully take in the new information and knowledge you’ve gained during your work bursts.
This simple technique is a great way to train your brain to focus because it not only gives you very clear boundaries for work, but also promises you time to not work. Compared to the typical “cram method” used in colleges and universities where students spend hours upon hours taking in as much information as possible, The Pomodoro Technique gives your brain the time and space to relax and fully assimilate the new knowledge (which is proven to be healthier and more effective for learning).
Why Should I Use It In My Classroom?
The Pomodoro Technique is not only a great study method, but it can also be a great tool to use in your classroom. It’s easy to see how this technique can improve productivity, which is something that I think all students and teachers are looking for. Everybody wants to use their time effectively, and there’s nothing worse than wasted time in a classroom.
If you’re planning a information-heavy class or are helping your students study for a big test, this technique can break up lengthy lectures into smaller bursts. But The Pomodoro Technique isn’t just for what may be considered “studying,” it can be used to structure any lesson.
If your students get distracted easily, lose focus midway through class, or are overwhelmed by learning a second language, 25 minute bursts of focused productivity are totally manageable and simultaneously gives your students a tool to help them manage their time outside of the classroom.
When lesson planning, keep The Pomodoro Technique in mind. You can use it to manage your own lesson planning time, but you can also use it to help structure your lessons. Plan out language-focused activities for 25 minutes, and then plan on either giving your students a short break to chat, take a walk, use the bathroom, or play a quick, fun game within 5 minutes.
There are so many different ways that this technique can help you manage your time as an ESL teacher, and it’s a great way to equip your students with tools and techniques to help them succeed in their further studies and careers.
Pomodoro Technique Activities for the ESL Classroom
Aside from using this technique to generally plan and structure your lessons, there are a ton of activities that can revolve around using The Pomodoro Technique. I’ve chosen 4 to talk about further below: group projects, studying for a test, and stations.
Group projects can be frustrating when everyone shares a first language and culture, but they can be even more tricky when students are working around cultural differences. Next time you assign your students a group project, use The Pomodoro Technique to help them structure their own time. Choose 4 different aspects of the project for your students to focus their time and energy on during each pomodoro. Or simply give them the freedom to work however they see fit during their 25-minute bursts.
A lot of ESL teachers and students have to prepare for large tests to get into universities, receive certification, or pass the course they’re enrolled in. There are tons of different tips and tricks for using The Pomodoro Technique to study for a test, and when you give your students this tool to help them prepare, you’re equipping with tools to help them prepare for tests in the future as well.
Using stations is a great way to differentiate learning, use your time effectively, and give students independence in the classroom. Set up a few different stations around the classroom that contain language tasks that students can complete independently and within 15-25 minutes. Split your students up into groups and assign them each to a station. Set your timer and have your students complete the task at the station. When the time is up, give them a 5 minute break before having them move onto the next station. Continue using The Pomodoro Technique until your students have completed every station.
A lot of times we, as teachers, think inside the education box by only looking to educational resources to inspire our lessons. However, there are a ton of resources, tools, and strategies that you may use in your day-to-day life that can also help your adult learners. This week, take some of the stress out of lesson planning by using a tool that you’ve found helpful in your personal life in your classroom!
The Pomodoro Technique was one of the most helpful tools that I used when in college, and that I still continue to use to this day! It’s a great tool for structuring your lesson plans, motivating your students, and equipping your learners with tools to manage their own time.
I Want to Hear From You!
What’s one tool that you use in your personal life that you could use in the classroom?
How else could you use The Pomodoro Technique with your adult ESL students?