Professional Development

Engaging Generation Z – James Styring

Lucija Dacic

This week’s webinar was with James Styring, author of Cambridge English Prepare! James looked at classroom activities that you can do for free and with zero preparation, utilising the phones or tablets many students have in their rucksacks.

So, what exactly is ‘Generation Z’? Generation Z comes after the ‘self-reliant and independent’ Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1978), which has mastered mobile phones and e-mail, and Generation Y (people born between 1979 and 1997), which has mastered the internet and social media, and enjoys ambiguity and choice.

People in Generation Z were born after 1997 and tend to have a heavily digital life; they have grown up with technology and social media and they embrace them fully. However, Generation Z-ers tend to have less-developed social skills, and while they are used to multi-tasking, they also have shorter attention spans. All of these are reasons why we must consider carefully how to approach and engage this group when teaching.

One good idea for teaching Generation Z is to inject variety and pace into lessons. But how can we achieve this? We can:

  • set mini-objectives (timed exercises and quizzes)
  • vary interaction patterns and pairings
  • include opportunities for student reflection
  • provide extra work for fast finishers
  • step away from the textbook regularly
  • personalise and localise
  • use the internet and digital resources


But why not use the technology your students already carry in their backpacks? Generation Z reaches for a tablet or phone every 7 minutes during an average day. If you embrace this technology instead of banning it, your students will feel empowered, engaged and appreciate the trust you have in them.

This type of teaching might be hard to achieve sometimes, especially when we only have a limited access to the internet or we need to follow the coursebook very closely. If you want to find out what you can do for your Generation Z students and what activities will work best with them, watch the webinar recording below!

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