TEACHING TIPS (Guest Blogger)

While I was enjoying my maternity leave and had turned off anything "teaching" related I got an email from Mark a former EFL teacher suggesting to guest blog. I accepted it with enthusiasm as I found his article very helpful for my teacher readers.

How to prepare your first TEFL lesson

The above clipart from Free Large Images
Whether you’ve recently certified as a TEFL teacher, or you qualified years ago but are only now getting the chance to use your course... Planning your first ever TEFL lesson can be a scary prospect.
So that's why I thought I would write this guide.
In this post I will share some ideas and tips on how to make your first lesson an amazing experience for both you and your students.
1. Get Qualified
This point should be obvious, but of course it is possible to get work without doing any formal training, so some TEFL teachers start their job without actually doing a TEFL course.
If you are in this situation, I strongly suggest you consider doing at least a simple 120 hour TEFL certification course (learn more about TEFL certification). Even if you don't need it for your job, a TEFL course will teach you a lot about how to teach and will include a large section about lesson planning.
So although you may not need it to actually start your job, you will really benefit if you haven't taken a course already.
2. Find out as much about the class as possible
The more you know about your students, the easier it will be to break the ice when you first meet, and to plan a lesson that’s relevant to them.
If you’re teaching abroad, this may involve learning about the culture of the country where you’ll be teaching; in the US, you may have to learn about a number of cultures depending on the makeup of your class. It’s also a good idea to get to grips with your students’ names before the lesson. This will make your job easier on the day, and also make the students feel valued.
Don’t worry about becoming an expert in your students’ cultures; simply showing that you’re interested in and respectful of them, and being able to make your lessons relevant to them, will make a huge difference to the quality of your lessons.
3. Plan for the age and skill level of the class
If you’re going to be teaching a group of adults who are learning English from scratch, then children’s books aren’t usually going to be very relevant tools. Finding out how far along your students’ learning is, and how old they are, will help you to find activities and learning aids that are appropriate for them.
4. Include an icebreaker game
Your first lesson is a chance for you and your students to get to know one another, so an icebreaker game is a good way for everyone to interact.  Your students may have never met one another before, either, so kicking things off with a fun game can help the whole class to relax and feel more confident. This will help students to learn well, and you to teach well.
Kevin over at the ESL Kevin blog has a great resource of icebreaker activities here.
5. Use internet resources
The internet is a wonderful resource for TEFL teachers. There are lesson plans, games, marking tips… you name it, it’s out there on the internet for you to use.
Taking inspiration from lesson plans can spark brand new ideas for activities, and can also be a life saver if you are running short on time to plan a lesson, for instance if you’re covering another teacher who is sick. Take advantage of the resources available to you – they’re there to be used.
6. Get your timings right
This can be tricky to plan for a class you’ve never met, but a rough idea of how long each segment of the lesson should take will help you to make sure that you have an appropriate amount of material for the length of the lesson.
The best way to approach this on your first lesson is to plan a couple of back up activities in case your class finish the work early, but be flexible during the lesson itself. The first lesson is a chance for you to assess for yourself how advanced your students are and how quickly they can complete activities, so don’t worry too much about completing all of the work in that first lesson.
7. Use interesting learning aids
Perhaps you could take along puppets to use with a class of young children, or prepare a clip from a famous film for a class of teenagers or adults. Try to be imaginative and think about what you would find interesting if you were a student rather than a teacher. Your first lesson will then be memorable and fun, and your students will be excited to learn with you.
Whether you’re ready and raring to go, or you’re yet to achieve your TEFL certification, I wish you the best of luck with your first lesson – whether it’s tomorrow or in six months’ time!

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