10 Tips for Newly-qualified ESL / TEFL 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!

6 Tips to Help your Students Improve their Pronunciation

“Teacher, how can I improve my pronunciation?”

This is another common question English language students ask their teachers. Below is a list of a few useful tips to help your students improve their pronunciation and help them be understood in their everyday life.

1. Use the IPA phonetic alphabet

Teaching your students how to read and pronounce phonetic symbols will give them a great advantage when it comes to improving their pronunciation. Encouraging them to check the phonetic pronunciation of new words will give your students the ability to learn how to pronounce words correctly, without the help of a teacher or English speaker. The website tophonetics.com provides both British and American pronunciation.

Our FREE Introduction to Phonetics lesson is designed for teachers who are introducing their students to phonetics for the first time. Why not try it out in class?

2. Read lips, listen and imitate

Watching English speakers’ mouths and lips to check the correct position when pronouncing certain words and copying what they do can really help students’ pronunciation. Check out the website forvo.com to hear English speakers from different English-speaking countries & regions saying words and expressions in a natural way. This is very useful if your students are planning to move to a particular location and want to be familiar with the local accent and dialect.

3. Check tongue position

Pronunciation errors will often be due to incorrect tongue position. Tell your students to be aware of their tongue position when focusing on improving their pronunciation. Use a Sound Articulation Diagram to demonstrate correct tongue placement. Encourage your students to ask their teachers or other English speakers to describe how their tongue moves when they pronounce particular words.

4. Notice the syllable stress

While listening, have your students take note of which syllable is stressed in a word. Phonetics can also help identify this. For example, in the word Biology /baɪˈɒləʤi/ the stress is on the second syllable /ɒl/. It is shown by a vertical line seen before the stressed syllable.

5. Listen and repeat

Students often find the shadowing technique or repeating after an English speaker quite useful for improving pronunciation. Students could do this with small chunks of language and record themselves in order to listen back and compare with the original. Students should try to identify which words/phrases they’re pronouncing incorrectly. It would be beneficial to also read the text while listening to a reader, so audiobooks would be perfect for this activity.

6. Research typical errors

People with the same first language will often make the same pronunciation mistakes. Research the typical English pronunciation errors made by people who speak the same first language as your students to discover areas to work on.

We hope these tips help you and your students. Do you have any more tips to add to this list? We would love to hear them!

Please share your tips in the comments section below to help other teachers & students.

Happy teaching!

6 Tips to Help your Students Improve their Vocabulary

“Teacher, how can I improve my vocabulary?”

This is one of the most common questions English language students ask their teachers. Below is a list of a few useful tips to help your students expand their lexicon both inside and outside the classroom

1. Context is key

Students should learn new words in context rather than trying to remember word lists. While reading, students should try to guess the meaning of new words from the context of the situation rather than reaching for their dictionary. Practise doing this in class with your students to encourage them to continue doing it in their own time.

2. Read, read, read!

Challenge your students to read for at least 10 minutes every day. It’s important to choose something they enjoy, but it’s also a good idea to read a variety of different texts. Reading while listening to the audio version is excellent too. Check out the Blinkist app for short texts with audio! You could set up a book club in your class and designate a time every week to discuss what the student read that week.

3. Use a vocabulary notebook

Encourage your students to write new words in a vocabulary notebook or create flashcards to test themselves with later. Vocabulary notebooks can include the definition, example sentences, different uses, translations, a picture for visual learners, and anything else students think would help them to remember.

4. Use synonyms

Suggest that your students use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words they already know and use frequently. Encourage them to practice using the new vocabulary in class, so that you have the opportunity to correct any errors and ensure they use them in the correct context.

5. Make a vocabulary box

Create a vocabulary box for your classroom. Write new words that students learn in class on pieces of paper every day. At the end of each week, use the words to play a class game, for example, you could have the students choose a few from the box and create sentences, mime the words, explain the meaning or play a describe and guess game. Encourage students to create their own vocabulary boxes at home which they can to play with friends who are also learning English.

6. Use it or lose it!

Remind your students that in order to remember new vocabulary, they need to use it in conversations again and again. It is often said that you need to see/use a word 7 times before you really learn it. Students should be given the opportunity to use the language as much as possible during speaking activities in class and challenge themselves to use it while out and about.

How to improve your vocabulary
Click to download our poster version!

Hope these tips help you and your students. Do you have any more tips to add to this list? We would love to hear them!

Please share your tips in the comments section below to help other teachers & students.

Download the poster version to hang in your classroom to help your students.

Happy teaching!