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7 Tips for new EFL teachers


billieA guest post by Billie Haase

Billie is a teacher and trainer in Oxford House Barcelona. She has an MA in Communication Research and Phonetics and a PGCE in primary education. She also has the Trinity Diploma in TESOL  and has been teaching English for a number of years. If you would like to hear more from Billie, visit her blog or see her in the school!

You’ve recently got your Trinity Certificate in TESOL qualification and are ready to start teaching? First of all congratulations! I would like to welcome you to the ELT profession. Teaching is a great job and, if done well, can give you a lot of personal satisfaction too. As a EFL teacher you have the unique opportunity to have a big impact on people’s lives. Here are 7 Tips for new EFL teachers designed to help set you off to a good start.

  1. Exchange ideas: Especially at the beginning of your career it is important to have a few more experienced colleagues who can support you and help you to find suitable resources, tackle issues that might arise in class and help you find your way around at your new workplace. They will have a wealth of experience and most of them will be happy to help you if you just ask. So make use of it! Having colleagues to share ideas with and get support from can also be extremely motivating. I’ve got some of my best lesson ideas from my friends and colleagues. I meet up regularly with one of them so we have time to bounce ideas off each other and improve our practice. If you have five colleagues, that means five great sources of good ideas. As a little starting point, I’m going to share two of my favourite online resources here with you: www.film-english.com and www.tefltecher.wordpress.com. Check them out, you’ll find some great lesson ideas on them!
  2. Pens: Make sure you keep a few working pens ready in your bag for your lessons. There’s nothing more frustrating than discovering half way through your lesson that the multiple pens lying around in the classroom have all gone dry and aren’t writing properly anymore. You’ll only have two options then: either run around frantically trying to get a pen from another room or cupboard (- a stupid idea, don’t do it! You’ll look like a headless chicken.) OR you decide to ignore the problem and you’re boardwork looks faded and hardly legible for students (equally stupid – you’re students don’t pay to play ‘Guess what the teacher wrote!’). You have enough to do setting up tasks and monitoring your students instead of running around and organising pens. So make sure you always have a working pen before class starts. And if you find a pen is not working anymore, throw them away and don’t start a collection of useless pens in the classroom that teachers coming after you can find.
  3. Whiteboard: Start your lesson with a clean whiteboard and think of the space available and how you will use it sensibly. Also I would recommend wiping the board after you’ve finished. The teacher after you will thank you for it 
  4. Preparation: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Remember that your students have paid money to attend your class. Indeed with the present economic crisis some students scarify a lot of money and time to attend your class. They deserve a great lesson! It is your responsibility to ensure they learn as best as possible. Help raise standards, don’t lower them.
  5. Scissors: Now you are an esteemed EFL teacher, you will be amazed about the amount of time you will spend cutting out activities, word cards, flash cards, games etc. Have some scissors in your bag so you don’t have to join the staff room queue for them. If you teach kids and are cutting out a lot, buying a small portable paper cutter might be a good idea. Keep an eye open, IKEA sells them occasionally. Also: Having a few paper clips and blue tack with you is advisable too. It just makes your life easier.
  6. Your voice: Take good care of your voice! It’s your most vital instrument. If you talk too much, you’ll notice it by the end of the week. At the beginning of my teaching career, after I had taught for 30 hours a week, there were times when I ended up with a sore throat and headache on Friday afternoons. Not a pleasant start to the weekend! I had to seriously think about how I used my voice in class. I had to remember not to speak over students or raise my voice unnecessarily. After all, it’s our students who need to improve their speaking, not us.
  7. Difficult questions: Don’t freak out if you can’t answer a tricky grammar question or were caught out with a spelling mistake. It happens to all of us, well most of us. It’s perfectly fine to say, ‘Let me think about that. I’ll take a note and get back to you tomorrow.’ Better have a careful look at the topic and prepare an explanation than get all flustered and give an incorrect answer.

Well, this is the end of my list. I hope my 7 Tips for new EFL teachers will help you to enjoy the start of your TEFL career. If you think I’ve left out a vital point, please leave me a post below. I’d love to hear from you.

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