TEFL Tips for New TeachersBy Bridge
July 3, 2019
Are you new to teaching English as a foreign language, or thinking of getting certified? We remember being in your shoes. And while your TEFL course will teach you how to lesson plan, answer tough grammar questions, and manage students’ behavior, we’ve got a few insider TEFL tips that will help you get off on the right foot as you teach your first classes.
Start with the basics. Are you seen and heard?
This sounds like common sense, but how would you feel if you were at the movies and the sound was so low loud that you could just barely make out the words or see the screen? Would you complain to the manager? Would you try to get your money back?
In order for learning to take place, it’s crucial to make sure that all your students can see and hear you clearly.
Putting your back to the board is one teaching habit to break. Watch this video to learn about some others:
Mind your tone of voice.
Once you’re sure your students can hear you, take it a step further. What does your tone of voice convey? Do you sound happy and easy-going? Or do you sound tired or speak in a boring monotone voice?
Your voice can create an atmosphere of confidence and acceptance for your class.
If your tone of voice is light and receptive, your students will automatically feel that it’s easier to approach you with questions they have about a lesson.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a dull or listless voice can make a class well… dull and listless. This doesn’t mean that we must entertain our students by doing cartwheels, but as teachers, we’re responsible for keeping an energy level that will encourage students to participate.
Resist the urge to be sarcastic.
As teachers, we sometimes become frustrated with our students’ progress and after a while, we may use sarcasm because we think it’ll help us make our point. Unfortunately, a sarcastic tone of voice will more often be perceived as a form of judgment. Moreover, sarcasm will work against you because you will inevitably lose your students’ trust and break down the learning process.
Do you like having the spotlight on you? Do you love the sound of your own voice? Unfortunately, these qualities do not always make for a good learning experience for your students.
When teaching English, remember that it’s your students who should do most of the talking, so look for any opportunity to reduce Teacher Talk Time (TTT) and for students to speak:
The less you speak, the better it is for your class as you’ll be giving them the opportunity to put their verbal skills to use. That’s what they’re there for!
Be aware of your body language.
How you enter the room matters. Do you smile? Are you confident? Or are you hunched over and in a bad mood?
Because students want to please the teacher, they’re usually aware of your mood, so use your teaching time to give yourself a break of any worries or problems that may be irritating you and might affect both your teaching and your students. (Whatever problems you have will not be resolved while you’re in the classroom, anyway!) So, stand tall, lift your head, and open your chest! You will more than likely leave class feeling better than when you went in.
If you don’t feel well on a particular day, you can let your students know that you’re a little under the weather (and teach the expression while you’re at it!), without going into too much detail. You’d be surprised how caring they can be, and the added bonus is that when students realize that you are just as human as they are, shields can be dropped, minds will be more open, and learning will flow.
Make eye contact
Did you know that eye contact is often your best tool for getting your point across? Eye contact can improve student performance and help them to know that they’re in a safe space. So, whether you’re teaching the alphabet or a complicated grammar lesson, eye contact can make a difference as to how your students receive and grasp new information.
A couple of warnings, though:
Correct mistakes – but with care.
You may feel strange when correcting the errors of people you hardly know; however, you’ll be less hesitant to point out mistakes when you understand that your students are looking to you for guidance. By correcting them, they’re assured that you’re paying attention to both their verbal and written work.
Nobody likes a red X.
When you were in school and your teacher used her red pen to put an ‘x’ next to a wrong answer, how did you feel– ashamed, embarrassed or even angry? What if your teacher had instead circled your answer and given you the opportunity to correct it and be given credit for it?
For more teaching tips, join the community of teachers on our Facebook page or sign up below to receive the BridgeTEFL Universe newsletter and we’ll send the ideas to you!