Teach English in ChashAnao Zhen - Hengyang Shi

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Early in the course, we learn that about key characteristics of good teachers and good learners. A good teacher will have the ability to motivate their students while a good learner will be motivated to learn the English language and be engaged with the coursework. Naturally, adult learners have chosen to learn the language based off their own interests while young learners are more likely to be placed in your course from parents or external pressures. The motivated student has a greater chance of success than a student without motivation and so identifying methods to keep these younger learners engaged and ready to learn is of great benefit to you as a teacher. Encouraging and motivating students is largely subject to the structure of your lessons, to how you behave as a teacher, and to how appropriate the content of your lessons is to the students. A fundamental of teaching English for newer educators is the engage, study, activate lesson plan. The idea is to prime your students by getting them involved in the class through games, music, pictures, or stories. This gets students initially interest in the class and warms them up to engaging with newer content. Generally, you want to incorporate the material you’ll be using later in the class but this is not absolutely necessary. The idea is to get students participating and engaging with the English language before carrying onto the new content in the lesson. Once students are engaged, they will be more inclined to participate in the study stage whereby you focus upon the construction and form of the language. Finally, the activate stage is the portion whereby students are encouraged to use their new language as communicatively as possible - accuracy isn’t a priority here but fluency is. Students will start to apply the language on their own through role-play, communication games, debates, story writing, or a range of other activities. Without the initial engage stage, students are less likely to show interest in the content that you present and start applying this in a conversational capacity. While each stage involves some level of encouragement, the formatting of the ESA structure is strategic and helps to motivate students. Rapport with students is necessary and a key determinant in how successful or enjoyable a class is. Students are more likely to participate and take part in the lesson depending on how relaxed the environment is and the type of relationship that you share with the students. The general attitude of the teacher can be a major factor when motivating students. Students can tell a lot by your body language and demeanour and so its vital to carry yourself with excitement and interest to the students themselves, as well as the material. Being respectful to the students and keeping in mind their own likes and dislikes is important. Addressing students by name and knowing a little information about each goes a long way in developing rapport with your students. It’s also good to keep in mind certain things you should be wary of when teaching. Young students are vulnerable to the opinions and actions of adults and so respect for your students is of utmost importance. To over-correct and point out what students are doing wrong every time they use the language only serves to discourage them from using the language further. There is a time and place for language corrections to ensure students are on the right track, but it’s important to primarily encourage students to use the language so that they feel comfortable. The environment should feel supportive rather than hostile so keep your feedback to the right moments. Far more important than corrections, is positive feedback and ensuring the students know that they are doing a good job. This provides further incentive for students to keep trying and to earn additional positive feedback. Personalizing your lessons towards your students will keep them interested. This is especially true of young children as you’ll need to tailor the length and content of activities to these students. The interests of the students will keep them engaged as the language becomes more relevant to their own personal context. When students are speaking about their own personal experiences or topics that they enjoy, it is far easier to elicit language as they are happy to share their thoughts or feelings on the topic. Choosing activities which encourage students to interact with one another and share their personal stories and interests makes the experience more about them and not just the language material that you’re teaching. In the age of technology, it’s important to incorporate content that students enjoy - leveraging short videos over periods of time helps keep students engaged. Often, they illustrate how the language is used in the real world and outside the context of the classroom. Seeing a real life application of the English language puts a new perspective on learning as students start to see the practicality of learning English. This is true of other authentic materials like pictures, songs, books, magazines and so on. For example, getting students to read a TV pamphlet to identify the shows that are playing and what they are about is a very practical experience. Getting students to complete this task shows that they have the ability to decipher authentic materials and can use the language with a purpose. This is very motivating for students and provides them with further confidence that they can use the language with a level of proficiency. In summary, the three major ways to motivate students is to structure your lessons to ensure that students are excited from the start of class using the engage phase of the ESA structure. The second is to carry yourself with excitement positivity and to really build a rapport with your class. Finally, tailoring your lesson content and materials to the students interests and using lots of materials that they find engaging is a great way to captivate your students.