Emma Heyderman

A group of students or a community of learners?

Whether face-to-face, online or a mix of both, why is growing a community of engaged learners important? This very practical workshop will begin by addressing this question and then explore some of the key factors. In the second part, I will demonstrate some of the activities I use to help learners feel they belong.


In this workshop, participants will have an opportunity

  • to reflect on the importance of growing a community of active and engaged learners.

  • experience and evaluate some lesson activities.

  • consider whether these ideas could be incorporated into a teaching repertoire.

1. Why is building a community of learners important?

I recently taught an intensive hybrid class where half the students were in the classroom, and the other half were at home. By the end of the second day, I realised that I still had a collection of students rather than a community of learners; there was lack of engagement, no interest in each other and little interaction.

2 So what lesson activities can encourage community?

We’ll experience and evaluate some lesson activities organised around the following headings:

  1. Engagement

  2. Co-operation

  3. Belonging & feeling important

  4. We’re all learners

  5. Have fun!

3 Feedback and Round-up

Takeaways, further reading and useful websites


Emma Heyderman has been involved in EFL since 1989. She is Director of Education for Lacunza – International House, San Sebastian where she is responsible for the academic programme and professional development. She has given sessions and workshops at a local, national and international level. She has also written coursebooks, including Influence (Macmillan) and Complete Preliminary (Cambridge).

Creating Community TESOL March 2021.pdf