As a director, coordinator and teacher trainer, I have encountered many people who feel capable of teaching only because they master the language. I mean, of course that’s a good start but are they really ready for teaching?
So, what if you are new to this thing of teaching and want to get started? How do you begin? well, I have some ideas, just ABCs that can help you get started on how to begin preparing a class and how this thing works. So, here it is:
Start by planning: If you have been given a book, and asked to prepare a class with it, don’t ever begin your class by asking your students to “open their books on page 33”. Begin each class by asking students something interesting, raising interest with something you know they like. Come up with questions that inspire them to participate, have them discuss in pairs and then share with the whole group.
Is the class about the coursebook? Don’t just limit your class to having students read what’s on the book. If students will only get what’s in the book, then you are not really needed in the class. So, try to make an impact by taking some extra material and topics into class. Try articles, videos and even games! Ask a colleague or do some research, you will surely find many of them.
Focus on the topic rather on the grammar: Always introduce the topic in a creative way, maybe by presenting a picture, a situation or having students watch some video that has something to do with the topic. Keep in mind that videos shouldn’t be longer that 3 minutes, so you don’t lose student’s attention. If the video you want to use for introduction is longer than that, consider having students watch it before the class so you only have to do the discussion in class. Picture description is a great way to get students to speak, discuss and have conversations. If you choose a pictre that is related to the topic of the class, you will get their attention and your class will be more meaningful.
Instructions: Oh, the science of giving instructions! This is worth practicing, because clear and short instructions are what you need before any task. Whenever you are solving some sort of exercise on the book, ask one of the students to read the instructions for the class. That way, you can foster student participation and build confidence. Make sure the instructions given are clear enough, so corroborate student’s understanding by asking one of them to model the activity for the class or you can model the first task for the class (“Let’s do the first one as an example” is what I keep repeating each class!)
You may have noticed that I always assume you are going to teach using a textbook. In fact, a coursebook may be very useful especially if you are just starting your teaching experience, so you can rely on a strong base for the course.
Professional Development is a must: Make sure you develop your teaching career by attending conferences, sharing ideas with colleagues, reading blogs, etc. Keep yourself updated.
There is so much more to say! But these are some ideas that can help you get started. Little by little you will master the class, you will feel more comfortable each time, I am sure. What would be your words of advice for new teachers? Thanks for your comments!