Published 17th November 2015
As TEFL teachers, we always want to be as effective as possible in the classroom. Even though we may be doing TEFL as a way to explore the world and experience new and magical things, there is still the underlying fact that we have been tasked with teaching English to our students. Often, though, it can be difficult to conceptualise how this can be done in a practical sense, how to translate the theory we learnt on our TEFL course into real-life teaching situations. To help you, here we have our top ten tips for teaching English in the TEFL classroom:
Half of the work you do will be before and after your lessons: preparing and marking. Make sure you spend time before your lessons thinking about aims, context and language, and then plan, plan, plan. Planning shouldn’t take over your whole life, but you should have a good idea of the different stages and goals of the lesson. So too you should know how you plan to accomplish these goals and aims.
Keep records of work up-to-date and clear. You are likely to be teaching various levels and many different classes so it is very easy to get confused. Keeping clear records – even notes on language covered or problem areas – will help remind you exactly what you did in the previous lesson, so you can continue where you left off. It’s also helpful in terms of keeping an eye on students’ problem areas.
Check your equipment
Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes you’ll run out of time before a lesson without having had time to check that the CD player or the internet connection is working. Make sure this is not the case and never assume that your TV will work – there’s nothing like equipment failure to ruin an entire lesson.
Do your homework
It’s not only your students who have to do homework, the difference is yours takes place before the lesson. Make sure you are comfortable with the language you are going to be teaching in a lesson. English grammar can be tricky even for TEFL teachers, so have a look at your material before giving it to your students.
Even if you have spent hours meticulously planning every minute of a lesson, things can go wrong or can move in a direction you didn’t expect. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as often unanticipated learning opportunities can crop up and these should be explored. Be okay with the idea that even if your lesson doesn’t go exactly according to your lesson plan, as long you accomplish your aims your lesson can still be a success. A Plan B is essential.
Have EFL games up your sleeve
You never know when you may have a few extra minutes here and there, so it is necessary to have a few popular EFL games ready to be used at any given moment. If you come across a game which you find works well, make sure you keep it in mind for those occasions when you need it.
If we, as teachers, are familiar with the material, we can get frustrated when our EFL students take longer than we expect to do an activity, or to understand your instructions. Remember that even if you know exactly what is going to happen, your students don’t: this is all new to them. Be patient, and give them some time to process all the new information.
TEFL lessons should never be boring. Though at times they may require hard word, concentration and quiet time from your students, there should always be opportunities for enjoyment and fun. Playing games in the TEFL classroom is an obvious way to bring fun into lessons, but keeping a lighthearted attitude and maintaining a fun atmosphere can accomplish the same.
Let your students do the work
This may sound counter-intuitive, but the best way for your students to learn is to do the thinking themselves. Don’t spoon-feed them everything; give them time and space to work things out for themselves. This is especially true for English grammar. When teaching grammar, give the students examples of the language in context and let them figure out what the rules of use are. By helping them find the rules themselves without explicitly giving them to them, you are helping the rules become more memorable.
Have a beginning and an ending
Have a clear beginning and ending to your lesson. Having a warmer activity lets students know that the lesson is starting and they need to get into English mode. By the same token, having an activity at the end of the lesson signals to the students that they have completed the lesson. In this way your students will become accustomed to focussing when they need to.
Being a TEFL teacher is not an easy task but it gets easier – and you get better – with practice. Making sure you are prepared when you walk into the classroom will help your students accomplish your specific language learning goals and help you help them achieve these. By following these ten simple tips you will give yourself the best start to being the best TEFL teacher you can be.