7 Classroom Tips for English Teachers Abroad
Today’s guest post is written by Mark Bragi – social media blogger and a lover of travel, photography, and food.
Having recently completed your bachelor’s degree or acquired your TESOL certification, you now begin to consider teaching English in a foreign country. Making the decision to teach English abroad is perhaps one of the most rewarding choices you’ll make. It not only provides you with an opportunity to experience different cultures, but also puts you in a unique position to make a difference in your student’s lives for whom the mastery of the language quite often means career advancement or a chance to study abroad.
Despite the many rewards of teaching English abroad you’ll no doubt meet a handful of challenges along the way. You’ll not only have to be open-minded and receptive to the foreign environment, but will also second guess your abilities as an English teacher. In light of the various challenges you’ll face, it’s only natural to feel a bit overwhelmed at first, however when preparation meets opportunity… you guessed it – success!
The classroom tips below are general in nature and are intended to be more of a navigational tool than anything else. As it is virtually impossible to account for every possible teaching style and method, think of these classroom tips for English teachers abroad as best practices.
Tip 1: Incorporate Various Learning Methods in Your Classroom
You’ll encounter various kinds of student learners in your classroom, visual learners, auditory learners, and those who learn best through hands-on activities. Quite often, students will simply stop trying to learn the information because the material does not appeal to them, for this reason it’s important to accommodate various learning styles by incorporating visual cues, music, and hands-on activities into your lesson plan.
Tip 2: Incorporate Groupwork into Your Lesson Plan
Breaking your students up into small groups so that they can practice the language is perhaps one of the most effective ways of getting them to speak. Small groups, ideally 3 students per group, provide a safe micro-environment in which they can feel comfortable and relaxed enough to practice speaking English. Quite often when directly engaged with the teacher, students tend to feel intimidated or shy and therefore are too self-conscious about making mistakes.
Tip 3: Maximize STT (Student Talking Time)
Keep in mind, like everything else, students learn best by doing. Since they will probably not use the language very often outside the classroom, make sure to maximize STT during the class session. However there is a fine line between the need to explain the proper structure of the language and letting students speak freely during class. When they do however, make sure to allot time to correct their mistakes during grammar sessions.
Tip 4: Limit the Use of a Dictionary
Much too often, when you introduce a new word or a phrase to the class, students will want to take a shortcut and look the word up in a dictionary instead of internalizing the meaning and understanding the context. However many words and phrases cannot be directly translated. Make sure and explain to your students that by translating words they run the risk of confusing themselves even more.
Tip 5: Utilize Student’s Time outside the Classroom
Instead of wasting time on tasks which students can do on their own time, maximize the time that you do have on group work, speaking, and explaining difficult concepts. Because students most likely will not use English outside the classroom, give them homework to reinforce what they learned in class.
Tip 6: Promote Peer Teaching
On any given exercise that’s to be turned in, allow the students to check each other’s answers. Apart from the advantage of correcting obvious mistakes it affords students an opportunity to teach each other and avoid being embarrassed in front of the class. Since students view each other as peers, working together and checking each other’s work promotes a sense of camaraderie and takes the focus away from the teacher.
Tip 7: Use Name Tags
Perhaps the most obvious and surprisingly most overlooked classroom tip for English teachers abroad is the use of name tags during class. If you think you’ll remember everyone’s name in the first couple of days, think again. Name tags let you address each student by their proper name until you actually learn them.
There are many online resources and tools which can help you prepare. Many websites offer material, guides, and strategies which will maximize your effectiveness inside the classroom. There are also TESOL online courses offered by accredited institutions to help you advance your skills and qualifications.