Five Great Tips for First-Time ESL Teachers

by Carrie Kellenberger / Sep 09, 2009 /
Carrie Kellenberger's picture

Five Great Tips for First-Time ESL Teachers


1. Manage your class effectively. It’s important to establish and enforce classroom rules, but remember that it’s also important to have fun with your students. My students are much more responsive and willing to participate when they are enjoying class. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself, try not to be too strict, and remember to smile.


2. Use lots of energy when you’re teaching. Move around your classroom. Use gestures and noises to describe things. Make lots of faces and draw pictures. Why? Providing some light entertainment keeps their attention focused on you.


3. It’s important to remember that learning in any classroom is never one-sided. Teachers can learn from their students just as students learn from us. We learn how to be better teachers by taking note of what our students respond to and what works in the classroom. After class, take a few minutes to jot your notes down so that the next time you start planning a lesson, you’ll remember what you should do to improve it.


4. Be prepared for your class. I can’t stress how important it is to have a lesson plan for your class. A lot of teachers will tell you that they just wing it, but really, you’re not doing yourself or your students any favors. The point of having a lesson plan is to stay on track. Too often, I watch new teachers walk into a classroom completely unprepared. They start teaching about one thing and end up getting sidetracked. Then they wonder why their students don’t perform well on tests. Look at it this way, if you expect your students to come to class on time with their homework finished, you should do the same thing for your students. Saying that you don’t need a lesson plan is equivalent to a student telling you that they don’t need to do homework.


5. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t fake it. Don’t be afraid to tell your students that you don’t know. Tell them that you’re not sure how to answer the question and that you will address it in the next class. As native English speakers, we don’t often know why something is wrong - we just know it is. Take the time to research it properly so that you can answer a student’s questions thoroughly when they come to you for help.


For more great tips and advice on teaching abroad, please visit My Several Worlds Teach and Travel Page or ESL Activities.


Carrie Kellenberger is the ESL Editor for Wandering Educators. You can find her at My Several Worlds.