Published 27th July 2016


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: learning a language is hard. It’s a long road from Beginner to Proficiency and our students need as much help from us as possible along the way. At the same time, teaching English as a Foreign Language can be a challenge too sometimes and in those moments it is important that we don’t let our frustrations become apparent to our students.

What we say in the classroom and to our students goes a long way to creating a comfortable environment which is conducive to learning, or it can go a long way to damaging the atmosphere you’ve worked hard to create.

So, to help you maintain a positive learning environment in your classroom, here are 3 things you should never say in a TEFL classroom:

We did this yesterday! Why can’t you remember?!

Learning new language takes time and repetition. Teaching does not necessarily equate to learning so even if you have covered a certain language structure it does not mean that your students will be able to produce it immediately or even remember it. You can’t force your students to learn and complaining when they don’t is a sure way to break their confidence.

Only English in this classroom!

There are many teachers who firmly believe in this rule, but it can prove to be detrimental. There is no reason why the first language cannot be used as a learning aid through translation or comparison and shutting it out entirely may cause some hard feelings or frustration on the part of your students. You must understand that sometimes your students will really need to express themselves but won’t be able to in English.  Of course the majority of the lesson should be conducted in English but there is no reason why the first language cannot be utilised effectively.

This is going to be in the test on Friday so listen carefully!

Learning a language should not be about learning for a test. The motivation for learning a language should be more focussed on the long-term goal of speaking the language. By priming your students for tests, this will create in them a reliance on studying and working towards a test, which will negate learning for natural purposes. Rather show the relevance of the language to their lives and motivate them in this way.

As TEFL teachers, we have very powerful positions in the classroom and how we behave and what we say can affect our students and their motivation levels.