Can you speak with your teacher easily but you feel nervous and anxious as soon as you are in a group? Then this article is for you!

Italki’s fantastic new Group Classes give you plenty of opportunity to practice your speaking and listening skills in small groups. But, communicating in a group is a bigger challenge than speaking one-on-one with your teacher. Follow my tips below to help you communicate effectively in a group. 

1.Use the ‘raise hand’ function

All group classes are held on Zoom and the application has a very useful ‘raise hand’ function.

When you press this button, the teacher will get a notification and the other students will see that you have raised your hand. This sends a clear message - in the same way that raising your hand in a physical classroom does - that you have something to say or would like to ask or answer a question. 

2.Address people by name

"A person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." - Dale Carnegie

Using people's names is the quickest way to build rapport with your classmates. After teaching over 1,000 group classes on italki, I can tell you that when students address other students by name they are more likely to also be addressed by name and brought into the conversation.

If you are not sure how to pronounce the names of your classmates correctly ask the teacher - “I’m not sure how to pronounce my classmates names, can you help me please?” 

3.Reference what other students say

When it is your turn to give your answer, take some time to think about what other students have already said and before you give your opinion start by referencing theirs. 

For example, let’s imagine the following conversation between a teacher and two students:

Teacher: “What do you enjoy doing in your free time?”

Lily: “I like to watch a lot of movies and I also go to the gym almost everyday”

Mike: “When I have free time I always spend it with my family”

Now, it’s your turn…you could just answer the question, OR…you could address the students by name and reference what they said before giving your answer. For example:

You: “I also watch a lot of movies like Lily but unfortunately I do not go to the gym everyday! Unfortunately, I live far away from my family so I cannot spend time with them like Mike. I spend most of my free time hanging out with my friends and we often go hiking”

Focusing on referencing what others have said helps you to speak more and build a good atmosphere. 

4.Ask Questions

Asking questions is really important because not only is forming questions a vital part of learning a language but also it helps you to understand others better and generate things to talk about. 

For example, ask to clarify, ask for more information, ask about vocabulary, or just because you are interested. Take a look at the questions below:

-Mike: “I think that social media is detrimental to society”


  • “Mike, do you mean that social media has made the world worse?” (to clarify)
  • “Mike, in what ways is social media bad?” (to ask for more information)
  • “Mike, can I ask what does ‘detrimental’ mean?” (to ask about vocabulary)
  • “Mike, I agree with you but I want to know if you use social media?” (to ask out of interest) 

5.Comment on what others say

The great thing about group lessons is that you don’t always have to come up with new ideas, you can use the things others say if you cannot think about your own answer.

Let’s imagine the following situation:

Teacher: “Do you think social media is a good thing?”

Mike: “No, I think social media is bad because people can become addicted to it and waste a lot of time” 

Now, you can do a couple of things here. You can agree or disagree, you can ask a question, you can add more information or you could repeat the point in your own words.

You could say:

  • “I agree with Mike, we do spend a lot of time on social media when we should spend more time with our friends and family”
  • “I am not sure that I agree with Mike, Yes what he said is true but I think that social media is also very good because…”
  • “Not only are people addicted but we also compare ourselves to others which I think is a bad thing”

In Conclusion:

It is important to remember that you do not have to wait to be asked a question. Group lessons allow you to practice speaking naturally in a group, simulating a real life situation. Your teacher, and the other students, will welcome any contribution from you. So…if you have something to say, speak up!

Finally, I understand that it is easy to feel shy or nervous but a group class is the best place to overcome these fears! So, what are you waiting for? Join a group class today!!

I offer a range of group lessons on italki but I know that there are several other teachers offering some great lessons, so I’m sure you can find something that will interest you 🙂