HOW TO GO BEYOND ENGLISH TEACHING IN THE EFL CLASSROOM

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Teaching English as a foreign language is primarily about teaching English. However, that is not the sum total of what happens in the EFL classroom. In fact, even though we are teaching our students to communicate, as an EFL teacher there is so much more that we can accomplish with our students than improving their language skills.

1. Make use of CLIL

Teaching language may be number one on our list but that doesn’t mean that we can’t teach content too. Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is one way in which we can teach our students about subjects through the medium of English. In this way our students will learn about different topics while simultaneously being exposed to new language and learning how to use it appropriately.

2. Go beyond the coursebook

The coursebook is an important part of our classroom, but it should really only be the basis for our lessons. The coursebook provides a curriculum to follow and a structure to use when you plan your lessons. It gives you content ideas and practice and production exercises. However, there is ample room for you to expand on the themes of the coursebook into meaningful discussions, making the lessons more relevant to your students, more interesting and more authentic.

3. Focus on your students

Students will learn when they are interested. Make sure what you are doing in your lessons is interesting for your students – this will change for every class. Naturally you will do a needs analysis to find out their language needs but you should get to know your students to find out what’s going on in their lives outside the classroom. In this way you will discover topics which are relevant to your students. This may be anything from dealing with stress to applying to college or university. Basically, you will find yourself incorporating life skills into your lessons.

 4. Incorporate skills training

Dealing with language invariably means utilising certain skills: giving presentations, doing research, writing reports and debating. Take some time to focus on these skills in general and not only in relation to language use. These are skills your students can take with them outside the classroom.

5. Involve culture

A very easy way for you to broaden your students’ horizons while in the classroom is by dealing with topics related to countries and cultures. Your students may not have had the chance to travel outside their community and you can use your lessons to expose them to other ways of life and different cultural philosophies.

Teaching English as a foreign language can be used as a tool for so many other things besides teaching language. When you are planning your lessons, think how you could include other life skills or life lessons to enhance the education of your learners.

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