Daily English

Tips on how to teach English

Here are some tips on how to teach English that you can use in and out of your lessons:

  1. Assess the level of your students. There 4 main skills to practise and acquire when learning a new language like English: oral comprehension and expression and written comprehension and expression. In order to do so, ask simple questions with your students, about their trip, their family or their home: start easy conversations, make them fill a sheet to get to know what they like to do, to eat, to watch, or give them a short list of rules of the house. The key here is to keep is short and simple. Then, based on how easily they respond, you can have a basic idea of where they stand, which will then allow you to better fit your teachings to their needs.

  2. Use visual aids and gestures. Even when you are not teaching, the lesson continues, in a situation of immersion in another language, everything can be teaching or learning material. Putting sticky notes on certain objects of everyday life in order for the student to memorise how it is written, spelled and pronounced when he or she needs it, is one amongst many ideas. You can also mimic objects or actions to facilitate communication and help them learn.

  3. Speak clearly and articulate. The clearer you are when you talk to the students, the easier it will be for them to follow along. It will also help them improve their pronunciation as they can more easily reproduce the sounds that they hear.

  4. Use a simple repetitive vocabulary and then diversify your vocabulary by using synonyms. It will push the children further and help them learn more by stimulating them and challenging them. It will keep them involved and avoid boredom and you will allow your students to progress and expand their English vocabulary.

  5. Play background noise like the radio, some music or the television, and let it play in the background. The more they hear some authentic English, the easier it will be for them to listen and speak it. Regular exposure allows the brain to subtly and progressively retain more. That is one of the reasons why immersion works so well. To ease the transition and assimilation and when possible, use subtitles.

  6. Use context. When preparing your lesson of the day, try to relate it as much as possible to something they will soon do (like the afternoon activity) or something that is useful in their life. The more the lessons will echo in the student's real life and fit their needs, the easier they will remember it. It can be about a specific type of vocabulary (for instance horse-related vocabulary) or structures (like the infinitive of you follow a recipe) ... As all of the lesson will be re-used in context, the students will learn in a more engaging and fun way.

  7. Keep it light and breezy. It is better to have several small exercises than one big one, it's more stimulating, more fun, and gives more opportunity for your students to understand. It has been proven that teenagers have a shorter attention span than adults too. By keeping your activities light and short, you will allow them to not lose interest or focus.

  8. Structure your lesson plan. Using the same frame for each daily lesson comforts the students and brings stability. Use rituals to start the lesson (a recap of the previous lesson, the weather, five words about the previous day's activity....) Then, to start your lesson you have many options, word games, a song, an image, a text from which you will extract the vocabulary and skills you want to focus on (grammar, syntax, pronunciation, methodology, …). Focus on what is important so as to keep it short enough to keep them attentive, and then move on to short exercises to practise. Finally, take a few minutes to play a game to conclude the session and set the newly acquired skills for further use.

  9. Be patient. Learning is a long and arduous process that you have gone through as well. Only having a small group of students, you have the opportunity to give them your full attention and expertise as well as all the help and attention they need and cannot always get in the classroom, making them feel cared for, listened to and taken into account. The possibility to personalise and individualise your action is an incredible advantage that should tremendously help both you and your students.

  10. Use adapted contents. There are plenty of resources to help you teach English as a foreign language that you can find online, in schools and libraries like worksheets, word games, lesson plans, grammar exercises, school textbooks for teachers and students. Go on publishing houses' websites, or educational websites and software to find all that you need to cater to the needs of your students with the advantages that these resources make you save time and energy, provide you with adapted material that follows the traditional official curriculum.

Final tip: repeat. Repetition is key, so don't be afraid to go over something you already did the week before. If the student doesn't remember then it is a good reminder. If he does, then it encourages them to keep up the good work. Repetition also applies to pronunciation. Make the students repeat certain hard words from time to time to embed the pronunciation in their mind. Don't hesitate to put an original spin on it: act them or sing them, it will make the exercise of repeating more fun and attractive!