We won’t pretend starting out as an EFL teacher is easy – after all, there is so much to remember and put into practice. However, we’ve isolated a few key elements to help your early classes go well, so you can start building a good foundation for your English teaching future. Read on for inspiration:
1. Prepare well and keep your lesson material organised for future use
When you start you’ll spend a lot of time planning. Don’t be tempted to take short cuts and ‘wing it.’ You are creating good habits and the process does get quicker. Additionally, store those lessons for future use so you can pick them up and re-use when you need.
2. Observe others teaching
Ask if it is possible and remember to thank the teacher at the end Ð pointing out the bits you liked particularly. You will learn so much.
3. Keep learning
Ask yourself at the end of the lesson:
What did they learn? What could have been better? Can they say more when they left than when they came in?
This pattern of self-evaluation breeds a cycle of continual improvement and helps stop complacency creeping in. Don’t beat yourself up if you have had a ‘bad’ class. It is doubtful you will be an amazing teacher from the start – sorry all you perfectionists – although there is no harm in aiming to be one.
4. Always give homework
Homework is especially helpful if it is consolidation:
‘Write the dialogue we have practised orally today and bring to your next lesson so you can roleplay it with your partner.’
Or preparation for the next class:
‘We’re looking at crime next week: read the short ‘whodunnit’ crime story on page 9 and be ready to discuss who you think committed the crime and why next time.’
This works because the homework is relevant, there is a deadline and the teacher will know if it hasn’t been done. These are all great incentives for practising English outside class. Plus it encourages students to see that language learning is not just confined to set lessons.
5. Change the pace of your lessons
Your classes will soon develop a natural pace and rhythm that is partly a reflection of your character and the dynamics of the class. Surprise students from time to time: have students change places, do a quick-fire quiz or a moving around activity to keep them alert and engaged.
6. Have a store of stuff
Start collecting menus, maps, photos of family, postcards of the area and posters. You’ll be glad you did, especially if moving to teach somewhere remote. Addtionally, make a note of some great free or cheap online English resources you can access.
7. Always allow plenty of student talking time
The problem with being a new teacher is you are rightly concerned (but perhaps overly so) about what you are doing in the lesson. Where possible, explain, set up a task and step back to let them complete it in pairs or groups.
8. Always correct
See if the students can self-correct first as this is more meaningful. You can go over corrections and vocabulary as a class at the end of a lesson. Another idea, which always goes down well, is to do a quiz lesson based on all the new words/phrases and corrections collected over a series of lessons.
9. Smile and laugh
It’s infectious. You don’t need to be a comedian but a relaxed atmosphere will help adults especially (who often feel more inhibited) to contribute in class. Here’s a way to start: put a simple joke or pun on the board each lesson and wait for smiles as the penny begins to drop.
For yourself, your school and your students. Sorry if that’s obvious but personally I’ve always needed to be reminded of the essentials.
Already teaching? Share your top tips below.