Teaching English in developing countries

Teaching English in developing countries

by | Nov 26, 2012 | Blog

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Big classes and few resources; these are often the features of volunteer teaching or teaching English in the developing world. However, get it right and these TEFL  classes can also be some of the most rewarding to teach. Read on for tips and ideas to get you started

1.     Use your students as a resource.  Ask your students to bring in items to talk or write about. You’ll be learning lots about their needs, level and motivation. Be ready to share things you have bought from home since students are very curious about their teachers. Photos are especially interesting to pass around. Encourage students to ask questions about you and your life.

2.      Start collecting real items from home now for when you go; forms, posters, menus, photos, and ready-to-go lessons since you may not be able to access such valuable resources when overseas. Think of blu-tak, pens and paper, too  – all the classroom basics if you know your oversees class does not  have these already. Luggage permitting, think of taking one good book, such as Lessons from nothing.

Invest in a good TEFL course. You’ll be glad you had some training on teaching techniques, managing classes and how and what to teach when left on your own facing a group of eager students.

3.         Be ready for bigger classes than you might expect! Maybe as many as 100 students of varying levels. This means planning in plenty of group and pair work activities so students have plenty of chance to practice together. See Alastair Grant’s blog on teaching English to large classes for more ideas.

4.    Be creative with what you do have.  What will capture students interest? Use mime, movement. chant, songs and simple games  – and have fun. See my colleague Simon having fun with students in uganda here -but note the surroundings.

5)  Find out as much as you can beforehand about your classes/school.
You won’t really know the full picture until you are there but ask lots of questions if you can so you can prepare practically and also emotionally for what is ahead.
What is the organisation/schools expectations? What resources, books etc. do they have? What about testing?  What backgrounds do the students have? What issues do students usually face in terms of life/schooling?  Are there other teachers to learn from, socialise with? You might be the only teacher around which will require some adjustment  on your part. EFL teacher Gemma Simpson found herself quite isolated at times during her teaching experience in Belarus.

 “There wasn’t really much support or training offered as to how or what I taught. I never met another teacher. It wasn’t until I taught in the UK that I realised the value of resources, colleagues and on-the-job training.”

Teaching in the developing world is a huge challenge but like all the big challenges, it often provide the biggest rewards.

Share your tips for teaching English with minimal resources in less developed countries. I’d welcome comments and suggestions below.



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