Published 7th August 2017

Kindergarten, teens, businesspeople, Beginners – you name it, if you’re a TEFL teacher you’ve probably taught it. TEFL is most definitely a career that keeps you on your toes, throwing challenges at you every single day. Amazing as we are, we are able to tackle these challenges head on and become better teachers for it. Well, at least we try!

But sometimes it’s not so easy teaching advanced students

Teaching Advanced students is one situation which TEFL teachers in general seem to find particularly tough, no matter how many times we teach them. It’s not that we don’t like Advanced students, but sometimes we find ourselves wondering why they are in the classroom in the first place, considering that their English is quite good already.

Of course, there is always more for them to learn but on the surface, it often doesn’t look that way, with the result that teachers of Advanced students can be at a loss as to what to teach them. If this sounds like you, then read on, because here we give you our top tips for teaching Advanced students.

Do a needs analysis

A needs analysis is important no matter what level you are teaching but particularly for Advanced students. Advanced students are able to identify what they need in terms of their language development and are able to articulate this. This will be a big help when planning your lessons.

Don’t focus on grammar

When you think about it, your Advanced students have probably been sitting in a language classroom for several years, each year going over the same grammatical points. By the time they get to Advanced, we can’t blame them for being bored of grammar. Besides, knowing the rules of grammar doesn’t necessarily mean they are able to utilise them correctly, when in fact it is opportunities for practice that they need.

Introduce natural language

Bring more obscure language into the classroom. At this level you can go beyond basic vocabulary and focus more on authentic language – colloquialisms, collocations and idiomatic language. Plus you can use authentic materials to show your students how the language is used in real life.

Be student-centred

Because you can expect so much more from your students at this level, give them more input into the lessons both in terms of content and delivery. You can ask them if there is anything in particular they would like to look at during the lessons – a vocabulary set, a language point, a topic – and how they would like to tackle it – a traditional lecture, teaching each other, a research project. Giving them more autonomy in the classroom will get them more invested in the lessons.

Use delayed error correction

Error correction may not be as important at this level as at earlier levels because by this time your students should have dealt with the common fossilised errors and their speech should be for the most part error-free. Instead, listen out for learning opportunities which can be dealt with at the end of an activity or lesson. In this way you will be showing your students how to upgrade their language rather than only focussing on their mistakes.

Teaching Advanced students can be very challenging but if you focus on the positive aspects of teaching higher level learners, you will find there is so much you can do with them.