10 Tips for Newly-qualified ESL / TEFL Teachers

Blog post: Tips for new teachers

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your TEFL teaching course and you’re about to step into your first classroom. Standing up in front of a class for the first time can be daunting for new teachers, but we hope the tips below will calm your nerves and help you prepare.

1. Remember, everyone was a beginner once!

You will make mistakes, even the best teachers do. Learn from them and move on. Mistakes are your greatest teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when starting out, ask your fellow teachers for tips/ideas on how to teach particular language points or deal with any difficulties you’re having in the classroom, etc. The staff room is full of experienced teachers, use this to your advantage!

2. Be adaptable

Stick to your learning objectives for each lesson, but be flexible in terms of how you will achieve them. It’s important to plan your lessons, but it’s also important to prepare for contingencies. Ask yourself; How will I adapt this lesson if only 3 people show up? What if it’s a one-to-one class? What if the students aren’t in the mood? What if they don’t see the point of the activity? What if it’s too difficult or too easy? What if they finish activities faster than expected? and so on. If you incorporate some flexibility into your lesson plan, you’ll be equipped to deal with any last-minute changes or variables.

3. Bring your personality into the classroom

Students love to get to know more about you and your personality. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in the classroom!

4. Use humour and make it fun (while keeping the learning objectives in mind)

Who says learning can’t be fun? Injecting a bit of humour and fun into your classes can be great for building rapport and keeping your students engaged. Remember not to lose sight of the learning objectives while playing games though. Explaining the objectives of a task will help your students stay focussed while they laugh their way to the next level!

5. Let your students speak

A common mistake made by new teachers is speaking too much and interrupting students. Remember that students need time to process a question, think about how they will answer, then think about how to express it in English before they even begin to respond. Try not to jump in with the answer too soon. You can help with prompts or clues to help them, but ultimately you want the student to do most of the work. Make sure your questions are suitable for the students’ level, and don’t push them for an answer if they are really struggling. Students will be comfortable participating in class when they feel confident in their own ability, so helping them build confidence will lead to more enjoyable, interactive lessons.

6. Keep your instructions short and to the point

Another common mistake made by new teachers is giving instructions to tasks that are too long and complicated, with language that is too difficult for the class level. A useful tip is to write down exactly what you will say to the class when explaining each task. Break it down into stages, and decide when you will say each part. Often teachers will overload the students with information by giving all of the instructions at once, leaving students completely lost. You can always ask students to repeat instructions or explain back to you what they must do in order to check that they have understood what they need to do. Remember to also speak slowly and clearly, making sure you don’t mumble your words.

7. Don’t take feedback personally

You will have good days and bad days in teaching. Don’t beat yourself up too much, and try not to take feedback from students or academic directors too personally. Instead, welcome their feedback, make sure you understand it and don’t be afraid to ask for further explanation or advice on particular issues. Assess the value of the feedback for yourself, take it on board for future lessons, and test out any ideas/tips given. Reflect on how effective your lessons were before and after the feedback was given. Remember, you can always ask your students what they like or dislike about your lessons and which activities they find the most effective. The more you know about your students’ learning styles the better you can tailor your lessons to suit their needs.

8. Sit down

If you’re feeling particularly nervous about standing up in front of a class, why not try starting off by giving instructions while sitting down? This technique not only has the ability to calm your nerves but also those of your students. Bringing yourself to their level can be less intimidating and make students feel more comfortable participating in classroom activities.

9. Take care of yourself

Teaching is a very rewarding job but unfortunately, teacher burnout is common. Make sure you take time outside of work to relax, unwind and take your mind off what happens in the classroom. You may need to schedule this time into your week to force yourself to do so. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup!

10. Try out our FREE materials!

We design high-quality, ESL materials for busy teachers who want to teach engaging and effective lessons. We have FREE Sample Materials available for you to download now.

Hope these tips help you on your teaching journey!

Do you have any more tips for new teachers to add to this list? We would love to hear them! Please share your tips in the comments section below to help other teachers.

Happy teaching!

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