How to survive and enjoy your first TEFL class

How to survive and enjoy your first TEFL class

It doesn’t matter how confident you are in real life, your first day in the TEFL classroom is likely to be a knee-knocking experience. So what can you do to make it go as smoothly as possible, and keep those nerves under control? We’ve got 5 top tips to help you through.

 1) Find out as much as you can about the class beforehand

  • How old are your students?
  • What is their level of English and why are they learning?  
  • Are there any difficult students?

If you are taking over the class, find out what they have been doing so far. If this is a new class, ask what the school expects you to do or achieve. Are there any set goals to accomplish and if there are particular methods the school likes to use. You’ll find that your best lessons happen when you know why your students are learning and can match your materials to their needs and interests - so gather as much information as you can before you start!

2) Body language and control
Take control. Don’t be a dictator and expect a salute back, but don’t stand with your hands in your pockets either. Ensure that when you speak you do so slowly and clearly, facing the person or people you wish to address. Don’t talk to the board or just that 1 smiley person in the front row. This is so important as it will set the tone for every future lesson you have with this class.

3) Limit your TTT and get the class talking (meaningfully) as soon as possible.
TTT stands for Teacher Talking Time and it is something we need to learn to limit especially when we are just starting out. We speak about this in all of our accredited Global English online TESOL courses

One idea is to prepare one to two simple communication activities for your students to do, preferably in pairs or small groups. Students will be happy as they’ll be taking an active part in the lesson and you can do monitor and get a feel for their level, noting corrections to do later in the class. Why not start with a simple game/getting to know you exercise such as one of those listed here?  Before you know it, you’ll be into the lesson with the class successfully engaging in a task you’ve set them. Goodbye nerves!

4) Vary the material and have a clear objective for your lesson
If the first lesson is all chat and no heads-down work, the class may expect this all the time. Have them do some individual work as well as pair/group for variety and keep the lesson moving. Also, do some solid ‘work’. Perhaps do a page from the course book if there is one or organise a ‘listening lesson.’ See below for how you might organise a good listening lesson. Try to take a short sample piece of written work in from each student as this will give you an idea (combined with the oral work) of their general level. If you can have them write about why they need English and their aims and objectives, this will also give you useful ideas for future lessons that will match their needs. Again, this sets the tone for future lessons.

Have fun
Enjoy. This is your class and you have a large say in the atmosphere generated. It does not have to be laugh-a-minute or full of gimmicks (try keeping that up all year!) but a class that enjoys the material with a human for a teacher rather than a robot is likely to learn well and have fun at the same time. The first lesson is a good place to start putting this healthy learning atmosphere in place. Good luck!


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Updated November 2018


MIke Konig

One thing I would add, from personal experience, would be to always bring some extra material (be it fun or another lesson) just in case your timing was off and you still have time leftover after completing your initial lesson. It's also good to have back up material just in case some components of your lesson, for some reason, fall flat....Nothing worse than having 15-20 minutes left in the class wondering how you are going to fill the extra time....Back up material, or ideas, can save the day...

Louisa Walsh at Global English

Thanks, Mike for posting this helpful comment!

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