by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen has been an English teacher since 2002 and has taught Chinese, French, Italian, Austrian, Korean and Spanish students, both in the UK and China. He runs two successful TEFL blogs in China and is a well-known voice in the China TEFL industry. Stuart is the founder and owner of www.rayenglish.com
Around Christmas we sang Christmas carols and on St. Patrick’s Day we danced like crazy leprechauns. With big ESL classes I’ve played musical chairs, just to get the students up and moving for a few minutes after a long day of class after class, which is common practice in English training centres in China.
by Serlina Sarah Heintze
I’m originally from Germany but spent most of my twenties in Ireland, working for a well-known multi-national corporation. After getting my ESL qualifications, I left the Emerald Isle and I have been teaching English at an English training centre in Wuhan, Hubei for the last two and a half years. I’m a bit of a fitness junkie so when I’m not teaching, I can usually be found in the gym. I’m also a bit of a foodie, so trying out new restaurants with my Chinese friends has become somewhat of a hobby. I also blog at sellyslittleworld.com.
However, if you’ve got a student who says /éi/ or /éitʃ/ or even /éiht/ when they’re thinking of the number 8 (like one of my lovely ladies does), then that’s something you need to work on with them and incorporate as one of your main aims in your lesson. How you’ll go about it depends on your class – level, L1, etc. You might for instance want to focus only on difficult numbers and their pronunciation (3, 6, 8, 13, etc.) or on ‘gh/ght’ endings, you might want to do it with a game or your students might ask you to write the phonetics for them or you could create a transcription of your own that your students prefer or understand better.
Students actually make up a much harder pronunciation that the real one, e.g. /bouht/ instead of /bɔːt/ or /kæutʃht/ instead of /kɔːt/. I think it’s important to encourage students to see how easy saying these words really is. Sometimes it’s as easy as asking them to look at your mouth when you pronounce them.
After a couple of minutes, I either pick verbs myself and check/correct their pronunciation, or ask them to pick the 10 most difficult ones to drill individually and as a class. I go through the voiced/voiceless and –t/-d sound theory, but not too much. I just highlight the importance of pronouncing /id/ only when they should. Of course, how you explain the theory behind the –ed pronunciations depends on what your students need.
Her list of clients include Macmillan Education, Cambridge University Press and Signature Manuscripts.
Different Ways to Pair Up Your ESL Students
Her list of clients include Macmillan Education, Cambridge University Press and Signature Manuscripts.
Using Music to Teach Pronunciation
Write Good Language on the Board
Encourage Curiousity about the Music
Teaching English with No Materials
When your ESL students come into class, no matter what age they are, they may be nervous or hesitant about speaking English.
Maybe its been a whole week with no English speaking at all, maybe it's been a month or longer since they did anything in English at all, so it's important for English teachers to break down this barrier and ease them into class and back to speaking English again.
Scroll to the bottom to download our free TEFL Warmers and Games pack!
Rather than just having students crack straight into the main content of your class, you can do a 'warmer'. A warmer is a short, easy to do activity at the very start of your class. This TEFL warmer can related, or unrelated, to your main class activity; it doesn't really matter.
What is important is using TEFL warmers to get your students speaking and using English in a non-pressure way, having fun, relaxing themselves and getting back into the swing of using English words, which are obviously not their L1. Create a real hive of activity in your class, raise energy levels and get your students' brains and ears tuned to soaking up English.
Below we have a wonderful PDF pack full of free TEFL Warmers and Games for teachers. This is a free download and you are welcome to share this teaching games pack with the other teachers in your office.
To download the free TEFL Games and Warmers pack, please click the link in red below and save it to your computer.
A well planned English class can do wonders for your self-confidence, your ESL students, and your school. We have all had those classes where we wished we put a little more effort into it or prepared a bit more. There is no greater feeling for an ESL instructor than leaving behind a classroom filled of happy students that absolutely loved your English lesson. So, how do you prepare a memorable and useful English class? How do you make use of your time while inspiring your students? The possibilities are endless, you just have to find what works for you!
Of course, the age of your English students must be taken into consideration when making your lesson plan. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me over the years.
Quality Class Review and TEFL Lead-Ins
Warm-ups. Before you begin with the new class material, it’s always a good idea to quickly review what you went over in the previous lesson. Ask questions about the previous grammar points. Ask how to spell the old vocabulary words. Review a dialogue, song, or chant you taught. Or simply do some free talk about the day’s new topic. For example, if you are teaching different types of fruit, ask what the student’s favorite fruit is. Have them tell you why they like it.
Smart Teaching of New Vocabulary
Vocabulary. When teaching vocabulary in your English class, I find breaking your time down into sections helps out a lot. For example, you can divide your time allotted for vocab into presentation, practice, and a closure. Presentation is where you present the new words to your ESL students. You can use a variety of methods to do this. You can choose to use real objects, props, simple English, pictures, acting, T.P.R., anything you think is suitable for the words. For example, if teaching fruit, you won’t use acting to describe an apple! Props or real objects would be better suited.
When teaching verbs, like run, jump, sit, etc, acting and T.P.R. (total physical response) would get better results than a picture. During practice, you can use a variety of methods.
See-say (when the students see it and than say it), repetition, guessing, or T.P.R. (you say jump, and the students jump). Closures should be meaningful. You can do anything from matching, to fill-in the blank, to spelling. It just depends on the ability of your students.
Don’t forget to include games for younger students! If you just stand there and drill them, they will lose interest and not participate! For game ideas, check out The Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching English.
Careful Grammar Breakdown
Grammar Point. Grammar point can be broken down in the same way vocabulary can be: presentation, practice, and closure. It will be more time consuming presenting a grammar point than presenting vocabulary.
I always presented the answer first, and the question second. For example, if the grammar point is “What do you like? I like ______.”, present “I like _____ .” first. Simply draw an apple on the board with a heart around it and say “I like apples.” Write the answer on the board.
Then, erase the apple and replace it with a question mark. Have the students guess what you like. They can say “apples, bananas, oranges, etc” but you keep saying “No”. Then have them repeat after you, “What do you like?” Now write the question above the answer. Write the question and the answer on the whiteboard in different colors as well. For practice, I find making the students make the questions and answers themselves is best. Draw a grid on the board like below.
Place a board magnet in the “?” and “You” section. The students should say “What do you like?” Move the magnet to the “I” and “Apples” section. The students than say “I like apples.” This works with a variety of grammar points. Just like vocabulary, end with a meaningful closure to your activity. A fill-in the blank, guessing game, oral game, something catered to your students’ ability.
For slower classes, try a guessing game. Place cues on the board like the one below. Let the students guess the answer.
Then turn the cue over to show your answer. Make many cues. This is also a great practice for your ESL students. As always, include easy TEFL games during practice! For game ideas, click here for 7 Easy TEFL Games.
Good TEFL Speaking Practice
Dialogues and Readings. When teaching a dialogue or reading in your ESL class, teach the new words and phases first. After your students have a strong understanding of the new material, present the dialogue/reading with one of the methods above.
When teaching dialogues, a good practice always includes having English students act it out and read. For closures, you can have them make a new dialogue/reading using the original as a template, answer true or false statements, choose multiple choice answers, anything to check their understanding.
Using Songs in Your TEFL Class
Songs, chants, and death. My personal least favorite in the lesson (although perhaps a favourite for other English teachers...)
When you have a song or chant, teach the new words first. I always presented them with pictures and acting. Have the students follow you line by line following your tune and rhythm. If there is a dance involved.... Kill yourself. Unfortunately for you, the parents love to watch this part of the lesson the most... If you are rhythmically challenged or tone death like me, just suck it up and try to have fun with the students.
Obviously what works for one teacher, won’t work for all. Consider age, gender, class size, the works, when preparing your TEFL lesson plan. For older students in university and high school, simple English can be used to present almost everything! Also, with older students, say good-bye to songs and chants! They learn more readings, stories, and grammar.
While teaching older students is much easier and less tiring, it also is slow, and boring. Although I now work at a university, I sometimes long for the chaos that comes with teaching younger students. Somehow, it is more fulfilling teaching the little monsters. But, after a week of it, I remember why I chose a university!
One helpful tactic in my ESL class I’ve found useful, no matter the age of your students, is using humor. Make your class funny. Joke with the students. With younger students, tell them “I like poo-poo.” They go insane. With older students, joke with them about their hair style, school, Chinese teacher! No matter the level and age of your class, always reinforce the idea that you are on the student’s side, not the evil, homework giving, test making, monster that is their Chinese teacher!
If you have anything you would like to add, please feel free to add a comment! Happy teaching!