Ten Top Tips for New Teachers

While these suggestions were made for TEFL teachers, the ideas apply to everyone.

1. For your first class with a group, arrive early and chat to the early arrivals. That way you are more likely to have some people ‘on your side’ when the class begins.

2. When you want your students to talk to each other, play background music so that they aren’t embarrassed about breaking the silence. When you want the activity to end, turn the music up loud and then off. Like Pavlovian dogs, students (usually) learn that they are free to talk when the music is on, but should be quiet when the music is off.

3. Make sure there is plenty of variety in your lesson. Don’t give your students time to get bored. Particularly if they are under 11 years old.

4. If a student asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, admit that you don’t know it rather than waffle. Ask the student to write it down for you and get back to them the next day having consulted your colleagues.

5. Don’t talk too much! Your students need the practice, not you.

6. When you monitor group work, crouch down so that you are at the same eye level as your students

7. Learn your students’ names as quickly as possible. If you can, get hold of a list of their names before class and study it. If there are names that you don’t know how to pronounce, ask your colleagues.

8. Enjoy the class. If you are bored and hate class, then your students will almost certainly feel the same and things will never improve. Consider changing schools if you think the problem is with the students. If you are honest enough to admit that you are the problem, consider a different profession.

9. Show interest in your students, not only in their ability to speak English. Imagine you have a large farmyard scene and you are asking your (young) students about the various animals they can see. And what’s this one here? A dog! That’s right, Maria. “Teacher, I’ve got a dog!” says Pablo excitedly. You do, Pablo? That’s great! What’s your dog’s name? What does Dusty eat? How big is he? Sometimes the tangents are more valuable and interesting than the lesson you originally planned.

10. Think ‘Comprehensible Input’. Make sure that what your students can understand what you are saying but don’t worry about using some words they don’t know. You can tell whole stories to very low level students that, with sufficient miming, they will have no problems understanding.

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