TEFL Tips

Here are some TEFL tips to help your class. For a more complete article on teaching, see How to Teach English.

First Impressions

First impressions are important, especially with new classes. Engage the students from the beginning. Make eye contact and speak to the students. If you teach a class of sixty or more you won't be able to talk to them all, of course, but try talking to a few anyway.

Begin with a brisk warmer

Going quickly into an appropriate warmer will usually catch the students attention and bring them more quickly into the class. And students who are a little late won't miss anything too important.

Use your school library or resource centre – whether it be big or small. You'll usually find many ideas for interesting activities as well as many useful TEFL tips there.

Good Warmers...

Good warmers often review previous material, or set up something you are going to do in the class (but are not essential to it). For example in a conversation class on travel, you could tell a short story about a travel experience you had, or in a children's class on likes/dislikes, you could do a warmer reviewing categories of vocabulary they’ve already learnt which could be useful when discussing likes and dislikes.

Keep a Brisk Pace

Don’t be afraid to drop activities that are beginning to die.

Don’t Talk Too Much

Remember not to talk too much in class. A lot of this comes down to learning to teach. Your students need lots of opportunities to speak, which can be given through pair work and group work. Pair work should be a part of every class.

Variety is the Spice of Life!

Use different kinds of ESL activities in your class and course.

So Be Unpredictable

But don't overdo it. Children like some familiar patterns in the class, for example, but do alter things sometimes.

Respect or Friendship

It’s an excellent idea to establish a friendly atmosphere in your classes (particularly with children), but friendliness and friendship are not the same.

Teachers who believe that friendship with students is very important will generally have more problems with classroom management than teachers who don't. And it will be harder for them to really help their students. When teachers try to please students too much, they sense this and take advantage. 

Respect is earned when the teacher is professional, and professionalism involves doing the best job possible. Professionalism does not mean you always have to be serious. Humour and enjoyment are permitted ☺︎

It’s also two-way. If you respect your students as individuals, they will often naturally return that respect. 

Friendship may sometimes evolve years later. Sometimes students wish to keep in touch with teachers after they graduate, and it’s a good feeling when you’ve taught children who, as adults, still wish to keep in touch and share a part of their lives. 

Naturalness

Be natural–allow your genuine reactions to be seen (okay, there are some occasions when you might not want to). However…

An example of naturalness (or a lack of it) is a situation I once experienced in a one to one Chinese class. I asked a genuine question and the teacher said: "Good question. Turn to the next page." 

A complete lack of interest from the teacher can destroy motivation, and is also a wasted opportunity to practice conversation.

Focus on the positive, not on the negative

This could be when giving feedback or when students are becoming difficult to manage.

Eventually, many of these TEFL tips will become good teaching habits which no longer require conscious thought.


For more information on how to teach English and more TEFL tips, see the following articles:


How to Teach English (EFL/ESL)

ESL Teaching Strategies

Classroom Management Tips

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