Preparation From the very first day, teachers should get in the habit of arriving an hour or more before the start of their first class so that they can adequately prepare for the day’s classes. Not only will your boss see this and be impressed with and grateful for your professionalism and positive attitude, but you will have an easier time teaching, your classes will run so much smoother and your students will learn so much more effectively.
1) Make a Lesson Plan
A. Ask yourself first what you want to accomplish during this particular class. When the class is over, what should the students be able to do? What new knowledge should they have gained and be able to use and retain? What new skills will they have acquired and had a chance to practice and integrate?
B. Once you know clearly where you want to go with the class, then you can plan your lesson. Lay out a sequence of activities which will lead you to your goals. Allot a certain amount of time to each component of your plan and determine whether the time you have is sufficient to do or cover what you intend. Be realistic here. Be sure to incorporate a little leeway in case things do not go as smoothly as planned.
C. Incorporate your teaching philosophy or the philosophy required by your school into your plan. If you promote active learning, do not plan a full period of nonstop lecture. If you believe in students being accountable for their learning, plan opportunities for them to role-play or play a game so that they can put to practical use what you have attempted to teach them. Keep in mind the interests and abilities of your students.
D. Look at the organization of your plan. Does it make sense? Is the material appropriate for the level and ability of your students? Are there clear transitions from one component to the next? Have you allowed time for questions, misunderstandings, additional examples, demonstrations and illustrations to make your points clear? If you have planned a small group activity or game, have you given enough time to produce positive outcomes?
E. Think about beginnings and endings. Does your lesson plan have a good hook? How can you effectively bring your students’ attention to today’s topic? Also think about how you will end the class. Plan to end a few minutes before dismissal and summarize what has been covered and learned. Begin the next class with a review of this.
Visit our ESL Resources section for links to a wealth of great sites that specialize in lesson plans, games, activities and more!
2) Gather Materials Before class begins, you should gather all the materials you may need for that calls and whatever activities the students will be doing, including photocopies, game materials, pencils, chalk, crayons or markers, books, cassette/cd player, toys, etc. Running around like crazy thirty seconds before the buzzer goes is very unprofessional and will but you in a very frenzied state at the beginning of your class. Not only will your co-workers and boss observe your disorganized state, but your students as well will pick up on it and it could undermine your authority in the classroom.
Materials: As much as possible, teachers should not walk into class empty handed or carrying simply their text book; they should seek to find props and materials which will visually stimulate their students as well as provide possibilities for discussion and/or practice of grammar/vocabulary they are learning. The following is a non-exhaustive list of materials that ESL teachers will find helpful:
- Photographs of family, home, friends, pets, holidays etc.
- Flashcards of the alphabet, pictures of clothing, people, food, housing, sports, transport, towns, animals, etc.
- Simple art materials i.e. color pencils, crayons, color paper, felt pens, stickers, stamps (smiley faces etc.).
- Posters, maps, information booklets, etc. about your country for self-introduction and to show where you are from. Visit your local visitors centre and ask if they have any local material written in Korean.
- Soft toys or hand puppets.
- Songbooks of famous nursery rhymes and chants and songs.
- Board games, card games and other types of interactive games that promote the learning or use of English.
- A musical instrument if you can play one.
- Computer disks, CDs, music tapes that are relevant to the class. Don’t forget to make sure you have a working player before class.
- Worksheets, workbooks, word/picture puzzles.
- Newspaper articles, English magazines of hobbies and interests such as of cars or bikes etc. that can provide topics for conversation/discussion.
Teaching Technique Tips: There are lots of little tricks that experienced teaches use to catch the attention of students as well as liven up their classes. Some teachers do them instinctively, while others have to be taught them or pick them up over time. The following is a list of teaching tips for both first-time and experienced teachers that will improve your students’ learning and make you a better teacher:
- Smile! This is the number one best way to set your students at ease, no matter what age they are.
- Be warm and personable. Students of all ages will warm up to you easier and will feel more comfortable in your class if you are personable and act in a familiar fashion with them.
- Speak s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y and distinctly. Native speakers are often not aware of how quickly they speak. Most teachers need to make a conscious effort to slow down when speaking.
- Perhaps just as importantly, teachers need to become aware of the type of vocabulary and structures they are using. Limit the use of slang and idioms as these will only confuse most students.
- Use hand signals and body language, and vary the pitch of volume of your voice whenever possible. The livelier you are, the more your students will pay attention.
- Remember to repeat yourself as often as possible. Repetition is the key to remembering for students; the more often they hear something, the greater chance they will understand it and remember it.
- Model a task or a dialogue more than once before having students try it. Often once is not enough for them to catch the entire meaning or hear your pronunciation perfectly.
- If something doesn’t work, DROP it and move on. Don’t get hung up on trying to make something work. It will waste time and only serve to confuse your students more.
- Present material using different approaches: oral, written, hands-on activities or games. Using one approach method all the time will leave other skill areas undeveloped.
- Use many examples, props and visual aids. The more things that they can see, the greater chance that your students will make the connection you are trying to teach.
- Be aware of your pacing; check for understanding. Do your students need more explanation? More time to practice?
- Repeat & review. Several short sessions are more effective than one long one.
- Make eye contact with students while teaching. Good eye contact does not mean staring or gazing. Many learners are likely to find this uncomfortable and consequently avert their own eyes and lose concentration. Neither does good eye contact mean eyes darting from learner to learner around the room — this has no effect whatsoever. It is recommended that there should be three to five seconds eye contact for non-verbal communication to take place. Watch your learners as well as listen to them, particularly while they are performing tasks. Look for signs of being bored or being lost. Encourage your learners to make eye contact while they are working together in pairs or groups. Research shows that there is a strong link between the amount of eye contact people receive and their degree of participation in both in class and in group communication.
- Circulate among the students while they perform their tasks. Check their work as they work on it and correct them as needed. Don’t point out their mistakes to the entire class, but rather be sure they are heading in the right direction.
- Arrange chairs and desks in a semi-circle whenever possible – this promotes participation and it is easier for students to converse together when they are facing each other.
- Be aware of the possible glare from windows or doors and of noises that can interfere with students’ concentration. As well try to limit interruptions, i.e. phone calls, visitors to the class, etc.
- Restate a student’s question before answering it. While you may have easily understood exactly what the student was asking, other students may not have heard nor understood, and so your answer may not be of any help to them, even if they are wondering the exact same thing.
- Talk to your learners, not to the book, the board or the screen. Students pay attention more, respond better and participate more actively when they feel that you are speaking to them individually as opposed to the class as a whole.
- In each lesson, give students an opportunity:
– to listen – to speak – to read – to write – to ask questions
- Be objective about controversial issues. It is fine to let students know your opinions, but strive to present a balance of information. We want students to be able to determine their own views.