When the Covid-19 forces us to adapt to the new norm- online distance learning (ODL), it is rather difficult to achieve an interactive classroom environment. Teaching and learning online, during Meet sessions are not an easy feat. It is tedious compared to the actual traditional face-to-face session. Why? the connection that you used to have with your students before the pandemic, is almost non-existence in the ODL handbook.

You would often feel alone when conducting the lesson as you couldn’t see their faces and gauge their actual reaction to the lesson, or worst you were talking by yourself as the students is not on the other side of the screen. To add salt to your wound, various TikTok videos were made by students complaining about the inability to understand and fully digest the subject matter of each lesson. This means the whole ODL has become something that is based on the rote method without fully recognizing the actual skills that you are trying to impart to them.

When you are teaching English in a technical university, you need a cooperative classroom environment to have a successful lesson. Students need to get comfortable expressing themselves to one another so that they can expand their language skills. Hence, one way for you to reclaim your teaching mojo would be by incorporating simple and fun interactive games to get them to involve during Meet class.

A physical game like the treasure hunt can be integrated into your Meet class by turning it into a ‘Virtual Treasure Hunt.’ This type of game is suitable when you want to teach a topic like technical description writing. Your students may be confused at first, as some of them never played such a game virtually. But when they learn the rules of the game their young engineers’ instinct kicks in and become competitive with each other, you will see that those who usually reluctant to switch on their camera, are now willing to switch it on.

The game is quite straightforward. The students need to find the items that are available around them or in their house based on your description. For each item, they are given around 20 to 30 seconds to find it and show it to the camera. You will see some of them moving back and forth trying to look for the item while some would just wait for a few seconds just to check what their friend got and copy them. Then review the items that they presented and decide whether to approve or reject the item.

Now that you have their full attention, you can start highlighting the significance of the activity with the lesson and start explaining the topic.  You will find your students feel eager to participate in the Q&A and enjoy the class session. This is a win-win situation for both, you and your students- for you to feel less lonely during Meet class as well as to help ease your students’ stress, by having a fun and enjoyable online class session.

So, those fun games and activities that were used to be conducted in a traditional classroom during a lesson can still be implemented in a virtual online classroom. You just need to be creative when conducting the Meet classes to not lose the dynamic of an actual physical class session. However, you still have to make sure that those games are incorporated smoothly into the lesson so that the games don’t seem unfamiliar to the topic. It needs to make sense. Or else, you’ll be wasting time doing ineffective games and activities.



Lina Zainal

Language Teacher

Centre for Language Studies (CLS)

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)