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TEFL Teaching English to Beginners
Introduction I have met and spent time with some language teachers here in the U.S. who prefer to teach low-level learners. The teachers tell me, for one thing, lower-level learners are often more enthusiastic than their more able counterparts. They can also make noticeable progress in a relatively short time. The points below can help to make a class at the beginner level more effective. False Beginners Probably the majority of low-level English classes will be for 'false beginners', learners who have studied English before, but have little or no communicative ability. Planning and Preparation Have some idea of how much material you are going to cover. Give your students an overview of the course and how much material you expect them to cover. On the other hand, don't make your plan too rigid; you should be able to make changes as you find out more about your students and their needs. Whether your class lasts 40 or 90 minutes, think in terms of a starting activity, main activity and a final activity. But always be ready to modify your plan. Check your textbook material before class A teacher who is unfamiliar with the course materials does not inspire confidence. What needs to be pre-taught before the students refer to the textbook? It could be vocabulary, cultural information or a pronunciation feature. Try it out If you are going to do an activity that is new to you, are you sure you know how to do it? If possible, try it out before you use it in class. Know the text If your textbook has a teacher's edition, read it. It may suggest extra activities, point out possible pitfalls, present alternative presentation techniques, and include notes on pronunciation and cultural points. Setting up Activities Allow plenty of time to set up activities in class. If your students have not done a particular type of activity before, give them time to study the material and ask questions. Then explain the procedure briefly and demonstrate with a more able student. When the students have started, move around the classroom and see how they are getting on. Help out if necessary. Be Consistent Try to keep the task instructions and procedures you use consistent throughout the course; eventually, the students will know exactly what to do with minimum instructions. Pace A common mistake an inexperienced teacher makes is to move on to new material without giving the students time to digest the previous lesson. At lower levels it's important to provide a lot of practice and patience with limited language, while maintaining interest and motivation. Balance Low-stress activities such as dialogue reading / acting, questionnaires, and information-gaps are excellent activities. Don't correct all errors Take notes of important errors as they occur, then deal with them later in the lesson or in a subsequent lesson. This also gives you time to consider the best way to deal with a problem. Help students to relax For some of your students, you will be the first foreigner they have met. It is important to make the students feel warm and welcomed! Visual Aids Use a lot of visual aids, such as pictures, maps, menus, photos, diagrams, etc. Use DVD players and other projectors when possible. Pay attention to your board work This is especially important when teaching low-level students; illegible board work can be confusing and lead to students memorizing incorrect forms. Be Flexible If you find your lessons are too easy or too difficult, rewrite them, or ask selected / additional questions. Asking Questions When you ask questions, ask students in random order, so they are kept on their toes. However, don't inadvertently leave someone out. Indicate the student who is to answer after asking the question, not before. This means that everyone pays attention. Games Use games to hold the student’s attention. Think of variations on old favorites such as Hangman, Concentration, Bingo, Tic-Tac-Toe, etc. Games should be fun but serious. It should provide some kind of practice, and at the same time add excitement. Homework Encourage students to do homework regularly. Remember to check it and hand it back promptly. Most students are anxious to see how thy made out! Tests If you plan to use tests, make sure your tests test what you have done during class. Sources: Internet http://www. esl.about.comhttp://www.eslsite.comhttp:www.earthportals.comhttp://www.googobits.com Teachers: Jacqueline FieldsLanguage TeacherCharlotte Mecklenburg School District7th Grade Anthony BeasleyLanguage TeacherPhiladelphia School District5th Grade Douglas JasperLanguage TeacherCairo, EgyptElementary School
Author: Anthony Kenner
Date of post: 2007-04-25