These top ten TEFL Dos are taken from i-to-i’s brand new book, Essential TEFL: Grammar, Lesson Plans & 300 Activities to Make You a Confident Teacher.
In your TEFL classroom there are things you should do and things you should avoid like the plague, here are just ten simple dos that can really make or break your TEFL class:
1. Go for it!
Throw yourself into teaching, give it everything you’ve got, and have fun (remember your students will be much more nervous than you are!) Encourage and motivate your learners. Make being in your classroom a positive and enjoyable experience.
2. Have an aim
It’s really important that all of your lessons have an aim. You want your students to come away from the lesson thinking ‘Today I learnt how to do X’. Without an aim, the lesson can seem like a waste of time (remember classes that you went to and thought, ‘What was the point of that?’)
3. Be organised
Familiarise yourself with any new content that you’re going to teach. Make a running sheet. Have your materials ready to go, in plastic pockets in a file. Make sure the equipment works. Take a spare whiteboard marker. You’ll feel so much more confident by being prepared, so you can relax and enjoy the time with your students.
4. Get students talking – to each other
This isn’t just about making a lesson lively and fun (although that’s a big plus). Learning English is a skill, like learning to swim or cook. Your students need to practice English, not just learn about English. And the best way for students to practice what they have learnt is by talking to each other, in pairs, groups and mingling as a whole class.
5. Start a lesson with a warmer
A warmer is a simple activity at the start of the lesson, which is preferably interactive and fun. As you know, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable and shy in a big group of people. A warmer removes that initial anxiety, as it helps students to feel relaxed and confident to speak for the rest of the lesson. In a warmer, it is best that students interact in small groups – not talking one at a time in front of the whole class.
6. Use variety
There’s nothing worse than a boring class. But making a class interesting doesn’t just mean playing games all the time, and avoiding anything ‘heavy’. It’s about having variety in your class. Vary the skills your students are practicing (listening, speaking, reading, writing) as well as the pace and physical activity (sitting, standing, mingling, running). Keep the expression ‘light and shade’ in mind – follow a quiet and serious activity with something fun and high-energy.
It's probably not the best idea to do colouring every lesson...but variety is good!
7. Instruct clearly
We’ve said it’s important to have students practicing a variety of activities. The one risk that creates – as opposed to a traditional class, where students just have to sit and listen – is that they won’t know what to do. This is especially so since English is their second language. The result would be chaos! So, it’s important to instruct simply and clearly, and back up your instructions by using a demonstration.
Eliciting means asking the students to tell you, rather than you always telling the students (which is the unfortunate dynamic in many classrooms around the world). Turn everything into a question. Rather than drawing a picture on the board and saying ‘This is a car’, ask, ‘What’s this?’. Give your students a chance to tell you things, rather than been told everything. They’ll feel much more engaged in the lesson.
9. Work on pronunciation constantly
Pronunciation seems to be the last thing on many teachers’ minds. But if you can’t understand someone’s pronunciation, it doesn’t matter how good their grammar or vocabulary is! Whenever you teach anything new – grammar or vocabulary or functional language – you should teach students how to pronounce it as well, and give them a chance to practise it orally.
10. Correct students (in a nice way!)
Numerous studies show language students want much more correction than they get (we’ve found that some TEFL teachers are possibly a little too kind-hearted!). Students like correction as they know that you’re listening to them and trying to help them. It’s how you do it, of course – when you correct students it should be kind and encouraging, not as a telling off. Remember that there are times that correct your students errors is inappropriate, for example when students are speaking in front of the class or as part of a discussion. Wait until they have finished before discussing any errors you heard, so you’re not knocking their confidence.
If this article has got you inspired and want to read more, pre-order your copy of Essential TEFL today! It’s jam-packed with loads of invaluable teaching advice, lesson plans and a comprehensive guide to the tricky subject of grammar! – Visit http://www.onlinetefl.com/essential-tefl-book to get your copy today!
So what are your top TEFL dos? Post them below!