5 things for new teachers to keep in mind


September’s coming and it is back to school for some! For others it’s time to put all those CELTA and DELTA hours to good use in the classroom for the very first time. Here are a few tips for those nervous first-timers to think about when you open that classroom door…

1. Preparation, preparation, preparation

It may sound obvious and those of you who’ve just finished a TEFL course will surely have had this particular piece of advice drummed into you, but it’s still a good tip. Preparation will make your life a lot easier – however don’t feel you have to plan out every minute of your lesson. Having everything planned, printed, photocopied and ready, knowing what order your activities will be in, and perhaps drawing up some objectives for the class will calm your nerves and show your new students that you mean business. As time goes on, you’ll know how long activities take and you’ll become more flexible. Remember, it’s better to have a little too much material than much too little.

2. Remember that your students are probably as nervous as you

It can be a daunting experience having all eyes on you and not knowing whether the material that you’ve so lovingly and painstakingly put together is going to work. But your students are, most likely, more scared of what’s coming than you – something which might help you to relax…Will they understand the teacher’s strange, native accent? Will they be forced to talk and thus expose that they don’t know the difference between ‘so’ and ‘such’? Remember – you’re the one who knows their stuff when it comes to English. With this in mind you’ll easily be able to take control of your first class. It’ll be over before you know it, and leave you wanting to do it all over again – and, with any luck leave them wanting to learn more.

3. Be bold

Variety is the spice of life, as they say. It can be easy to think you have to stick to the course book you’ve been given. But branching out and using different resources or even creating your own material and activities can really bring classes to life, and your students will love a break from the norm. From my experience this is especially true with business students – the last thing they want after staring at a computer for 8 hours was to sit in a boardroom following the same old dry, English book. Not every activity is going to work and some might go down like a lead balloon, but you’ll soon learn not to worry and take it as a learning curve to move onto the next idea. Don’t be afraid of using role plays, videos if you can, or games that get students moving –both young and old. You can find inspiration for different material from onestopenglish.com, which has thousands of great ideas, worksheets, audio material and games that can help give you some inspiration.

4. Get your students talking

Easier said than done in large classes but if to make sure your students are actually listening and learning, get them to take centre stage in the class. Just think about any time you’ve taken a French or Spanish class with a teacher who talks and talks…it can be frustrating and boring. Encourage discussion as a group, or get students to work with partners so that everyone gets a chance to speak. Some of your students may never have even been allowed to speak in classes before apart from recite irregular verb tables. They might be reluctant at first, and getting them to open their mouths may well be like pulling teeth but once you get them going and make sure they know it’s ok to make mistakes, they’ll get into the swing of giving their opinions and practising what you’ve taught them out loud. It’ll also help you to get to know your students and them to know you which will make future classes with them a breeze.

5. Enjoy yourself!

Perhaps the most important piece of advice! If you’re having fun in your class, your students probably will too, and you’ll really get the most from all that time you’ve spent planning your classes.

Why not share your first-lesson experiences on the onestopenglish Facebook page? Maybe you can inspire some budding teachers! Or if you’re still looking for that elusive job of a lifetime, find it at Onestop Jobs.


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