Posted on November 21, 2019 | By Isabelle Sudron
27th Nov 2018
So, you’ve got your TEFL certificate, you’ve landed your first job Teaching English as Foreign Language and your first English lesson is in the diary. But how do you go from doing a TEFL course by yourself to teaching a full class of students? Don’t fret – we’ve got a tried and tested plan to help you learn how to teach English abroad for the first time.
#1 Ask to watch another teacher’s lesson
Watching another TEFL teacher take a lesson in the school you’ll be working at can really help put your mind at ease. Ask the Director of Studies or manager at the company you’ll be working at if you can sit in on another teacher’s lesson. They’ll usually be happy to let you observe a lesson and pleased to see how keen you are to do well in your new job.
If possible, try to sit in on a lesson for the same age group or learning ability of the first class you’ll be teaching. Better yet, observe a few lessons to get an idea of how to teach English as a Foreign Language to different age groups and English levels.
#2 Get all of the information you need in advance
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many EFL teachers get to their first day not knowing when, where, who or what they’ll be teaching! Depending on where in the world you’ll be teaching and what kind of institution you’ll be working at, you may find that some employers are more casual than others. That means you may have to chase them for information on your first day or week of teaching. Don’t hold back though, this information is vital to you having a successful first day of teaching.
The vital pieces of information you need are:
If you’re particularly keen, you can even pay a visit to the school/language centre and work out where all of your classrooms are first.
#3 Preparation, preparation, preparation!
Once you’ve got all the information you need for your first day or week of teaching, you need to get ready for your first class. You’ll already have learnt about lesson planning on your TEFL course so that bit should be easy. Now you’ve got to make sure you’ve got all the worksheets, flashcards and other resources you need. We don’t recommend leaving it until the last minute to print everything – every teacher has a complicated relationship with the office printer and it always seems to break when you need it! We also recommend having plenty of back-up activities and games at the ready in case one of your activities flops or your students get through things faster than you expected them to.
#4 Make a good first impression
Although it’s impossible to control what your new students will think of you, there are some things you can do to make a positive first impression. For example, always arrive to your lesson on time – if not early! Introduce yourself in a clear, friendly manner and write your name on the board in case students forget it. If your class has a high level of English, take the time to share a little information about yourself as well as find out more about your students. Ice breakers are a great way to get to know your class and let them get to know you – make sure to join in the activities if you can! And remember, a big part of learning how to teach English is getting to grips with your own teaching style.
#5 Put rules and routines into place
Setting rules on the first day of class may sound a little intense but it’s the best way to do it. You don’t want to start off your first lesson as the fun, easy-going teacher and then slam down the iron fist on the second lesson. Start as you mean to go – that way students will know what to expect in your lessons and will be prepared for the consequences of not following the rules.
It’s up to you how many rules you enforce, whether it simply be “English only in class!” or a detailed list of how to treat the teacher and other students. Just remember, the point of classroom rules is to make your class a better learning environment, not just to put your foot down.
In terms of routines, you may also find that always starting or ending your lessons with a certain activity can help your classes go smoothly. For example, if you always start your lessons with a quick vocabulary game, this can prompt your students to get into the right mindset to learn.
#6 Reinforce the good stuff
Positive reinforcement is key to students enjoying learning and continuing to do the right things. Although discipline, rules and routines are important, don’t forget to compliment or reward your students if they do something right. And where possible, make sure to share out the compliments so that the students don’t feel that you have favourites!
#7 Don’t beat yourself up
Your first class (or even your first 10 classes) aren’t going to run perfectly. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to learn from the mistakes you made. Take tips from experienced teachers, try different activities or teaching methods, and be prepared for when things do go wrong.
If you found this article useful, you may also like: How to deal with difficult questions from your students.