Top tips for TEFL teachers-how to plan your lesson to engage your students and gain full student participation
We all have that anxious “butterflies in your tummy” feeling when starting a new job! To add to your pressure, you are expected to teach English to non-native English speakers! However, do not let fear and anxiety take over, this will be a truly remarkable and life-changing experience. Some of whom never have the opportunity to experience!
To start off, it is a well-known fact, Chinese students’ behaviour compared to some of those in the UK classroom are, to find the right word, regimented! Respecting your elders and taking education seriously are at the forefront of Chinese culture. Meaning, you will seldom have to deal with certain behavioural issues you may come across teaching in the UK.
Typically, your classroom environment should feel structured, friendly, relaxed and most of all enjoyable!
So, lets get started! Here are our top tips to engage your classroom:
You only get one chance of a first impression
- Remember the first impression you give your students will be everlasting! Try to visually enhance your class with pictures and phrases of fun and useful English language tips.
- Layout your classroom differently, start off with circle time to get to know the names of your students. This could be a great way to start off learning “hello my name is…” phrase.
- Smile and use gestures, a friendly gesture can give more of a positive first impression than words
Get your students brains active with a warm up game
The sensory effect of your classroom has gained your students interaction, now it is time to get them to interact with a TEFL warm up game. If you have enough room get them to move around, or, if space is limited, you will have to rely on the hands up approach! Try asking the students in simple English to arrange themselves from youngest to oldest/shortest to tallest only speaking in English. This is a perfect way to gage their abilities in English and give you an idea of future tasks and games.
Try to always stay positive. It will be daunting for your students to talk in front of each other, including you, in a language they are not used to speaking in. Your role as a TEFL teacher is to motivate and provide confidence in their English abilities. Providing critical yet positive feedback is a great way to do this, using clear and simple words. Another great way to get your students to participate in vocal activities is to put them in groups. This makes it less intimidating and encourages dialogue between students in English. If your students have a clear understanding of their tasks, are not scared to participate and enjoy what they are doing, they are more likely to want to learn more!
Create lessons/projects involving your students joint interests
Personalising your lessons to meet the interests of your students is a great way to promote an enjoyable and interactive learning environment!
(Chinese students at Shaodong School showing our TEFL teacher Amy their favourite dance moves to their favourite English pop song)
You could ask your students their favourite pop bands/dance moves and ask them to show in groups what these are, and to explain in English:
- What is the name of band/move
- Why they like it
- Where did they learn this move or about this band?
- what emotion this makes them feel
Prepare every class meticulously
As boring as it may sound, the top tip you could possibly take from this blog is to prepare, prepare then prepare again! If you are prepared before each lesson and have a structured plan you cannot fail as a TEFL teacher. Ensure you have a wide range of fun activities to keep your pupils engaged throughout your contract, keep your classroom organised always and ensure you have the correct contacts should you require any assistance.
Here is a little fun activity you can try now! Take yourself back to when you were at school, think back to your favourite lessons, I bet these lessons were packed full of fun activities, I bet your teacher was very organised and I bet the classroom was visually enhancing and the learning environment was fun, active and full of overall pupil participation! Am I right? Well in that case you are ready to take that leap of faith and teach English abroad!
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