Published 8th January 2019

EFL

As EFL teachers we are always trying to be on top of our game. We find appropriate materials, plan lessons, motivate our students and keep track of progress and assessment, but you might be doing a few things in the classroom which can jeopardise all of that. The problem is, you’re probably not aware of them!

Three EFL teaching practices you may find in your EFL classroom which may actually do more harm than good!

Talking too much

Teachers need to talk in the classroom. They need to provide models of the language, give instructions, correct mistakes and be encouraging. However, teachers don’t need to talk all of the time. It is easy when you are a new teacher to talk a lot because it is common to feel uncomfortable with silence. But silence allows time for your students to think, process language and figure out how to say what they want to say. Talking too much also puts a burden on your students to try to understand everything you are saying, while saying the bare minimum will make sure they are focussing on the right content. Plus, talking all the time will put a strain on your voice and you’ll find yourself coming down with throat infections often.

So sit back and relax a bit more in your classroom. Move yourself away from the front of the classroom and let your students take charge more. Give them space to breathe and think and reflect.

Giving too much homework

Giving homework seems to be a hangover from our own experience in school. We all went through years of doing homework so we assume it should be the same for our students. Luckily for them, times have changed and homework is not as revered as it used to be. We understand now that giving endless grammar exercises for homework probably won’t do much for learning but it can do a lot of damage to interest and motivation.

Instead, homework should not really seem like homework. Find projects or tasks that your students can do outside the classroom that interest them and that they want to do. Don’t overload your students and don’t punish your students if they couldn’t do the task you set them.

Doing too much in your lessons

We get it, having a 90-minute lesson to fill can be daunting, but filling it with tons of activities is not the solution. Never mind the fact that finding or thinking of a million activities will take up a lot of your time, your students will have no time to really get into an activity before you’ve moved on to the next one. They will not be able to appreciate the purpose of the activity and how it relates to the language aims of the class.

Remember, less is more. In order to incorporate an activity effectively into your lesson, your students need to be adequately prepared. You need time to lead into it, explain it, demonstrate it and only then should your students tackle it themselves. Then they need time to understand it and get the most out of it, before you can get feedback from it. This takes time.

This might not seem like rocket science – and it’s not – but it’s very easy to fall into one of these three traps. Make yourself aware of these three practices in your own teaching and try to avoid them in order not to sabotage your lessons.