11 Teaching Hacks for TEFL Teachers
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Time is money.
Work smart, not hard.
Life’s too short for lesson prep*.
*Okay, so maybe we made this one up.
We have many sayings in English which remind us how precious our time is and why we shouldn’t waste it. And we agree wholeheartedly. This is why we love a good hack to save us time (and possibly money, too). If you look anywhere on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter, people love sharing hacks that will make our lives a bit easier and make us look like we’re a whole lot smarter than we actually are. So here are our fave hacks for teaching English as a Foreign Language.
Using your students’ names in the classroom is very important in creating a friendly learning environment in the classroom. But while your students only need to remember one name (yours), you’ll need to remember at least twenty (for one class) and probably more like 100! When you first teach a class, draw up a plan of the desks on an A4 piece of paper and put it on your desk. Where each student is sitting, write their names on the drawing. During the class, use the plan to remember the names of the students and use them as much as possible. Quickly glancing at the plan on your desk whenever you want to call on a particular student will remind you of their name, and repeating their names throughout the lesson will help you remember them in your next lesson.
If you’re looking for some props for your online lessons, there’s no need to go out and buy new props. Instead, look around your house and see what household items you can use for props. If you have any stuffed toys (yours or your children’s), they make great mascots, or a piece of pretty material or wrapping paper can make a good background.
Homemade mini whiteboards
Mini whiteboards are a great tool in the EFL classroom. Students love writing on the board, and using the mini versions means they can all get a turn to write on them in their groups. There are loads of different classroom games you can do with them too. But rather than spending your dollars on new ones from a stationery shop, you can make your own using hard card or cardboard. You can either cover the card in contact paper or you can laminate it. Either way, you’ll have a perfectly good mini whiteboard basically for free.
Read more: 3 Fun Ways to Use Mini Whiteboards
A challenge folder
If you find yourself prepping extra worksheets to give to your stronger students every lesson, why not make a challenge folder? This is a folder which you keep somewhere in the class. In the folder, you have a whole series of worksheets on different topics – even better is if they relate to the topics or language structures you are doing during the term. If a student finishes an activity quickly in a lesson, they simply have to fetch themselves a worksheet to get on with quietly. If you prep this at the beginning of a term you will never have to worry about this for any of your lessons.
Use someone else’s lesson plan
Don’t worry, this isn’t as dodgy as it sounds. When you start out teaching, planning and lesson prep can take a long time. The thing is, people have been teaching English as a Foreign Language for a long time and it’s easy to take advantage of that fact – there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Look online and you’ll find loads of websites with free lesson plans and resources. All you have to do is search for your topic or language point and the level of the class.
Use your whiteboard markers until the very last drop
There’s always one student who doesn’t put the cap back on the whiteboard marker properly and the next time you try to use it you realise it’s dry. If this happens, take off the cap and put the pen nib-side down in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Let it dry (without the cap) and it should give you a few more uses. In general, store your pens vertically with the nib down to help them last longer.
How to clean permanent marker off your whiteboard
It’s happened to the best of us: using a permanent marker on our whiteboards instead of our whiteboard markers. It depends how quickly you realise but you could end up with a board full of permanent marker! Fear not, there’s a simple remedy. Write over the permanent marker with a whiteboard marker. You’ll be able to wipe it off easily with your usual whiteboard marker.
There are a few ways you can help quieter classes become more energetic, and uninvolved students become more engaged. The one way is with a ball. Even with adults, bringing the element of a ball into the lesson is intriguing. When you ask a question throw the ball and whoever catches it must answer the question. They can then throw the ball to someone else for the next question.
The other option is to use pens or rubbers or anything similar. At the beginning of the lesson give each student whatever object you’ve chosen. Whenever they participate in the lesson by volunteering an answer or answering a question, they give the object back to you. The students can’t leave the classroom until they have had their turn.
Stamps for assessment
Marking assignments and assessing work can be very time-consuming. Buy a few stamps (stars or dots or unicorns) in different colours to make the process go quicker. While for many assignments you need to make corrections to the language, sometimes you just need to let your student know if the assignment is good, needs some work, or needs to be totally redone. Instead of having to write Please try again. or No corrections needed. or It’s fine but could be better next time. you can just use your stamp and your students will know what it means.
Ask the class
Our students love to ask questions, but many times another classmate will know the answer. Learning from their peers is a good learning technique and we should encourage it as much as possible. Train your students to ask the class their questions before they ask you. For example, if there’s a question, they can raise their hand and say Does anyone know…? If no one knows the answer then you can answer it.
To speed up dividing the class into pairs or groups, use stickers. Buy coloured dot stickers and laminate them. When you need to make a grouping, hand out the stickers. Students can then easily find a partner by finding the other student or students with the same colour sticker.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language requires a lot of preparation, planning, and classroom management skills. These hacks will help make your teaching life easier so you can focus on the important stuff: living your best life.
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- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.