As mentioned before in our previous post, being fluent in English does not guarantee your excellence as a teacher. Today, I’d like to further expound on this topic by going over some do’s and don’ts of ESL teaching. While I expect that most experienced teachers might already be aware of these, I’m hoping that budding ESL instructors will find them helpful.
Do’s and Don’ts of ESL Teaching
Do give clear instructions. Provide both verbal and written (or typed, in the case of online lessons) instructions as much as possible.
Don’t expect the student to follow vaguely stated instructions from your part. Explain the process of what you want them to do, step by step if necessary.
Do give examples and/or demonstrations. This will help your student understand things better.
Don’t expect your student to always understand what you want them to do without providing proper instructions or examples /demonstrations.
Do speak and wait for a response according to the student’s skill level.
Don’t speak too fast. Remember that you are talking to a student. Also, don’t speak loudly or use a condescending tone if the student tells you they didn’t understand your statement or asks you to repeat yourself.
Do let your student speak. Allow your student some time to express him/herself without interruption.
Don’t take all the talking time. The class is meant for the student’s improvement, so remember to stick to 30:70 talking ratio. 30% for the teacher and 70% for the student.
Do always check your student’s understanding before moving on with the rest of the lesson. Encourage them to approach you with questions and let them know that it is perfectly fine to not completely understand everything on the first try.
Don’t be satisfied with just asking if they have any questions. Try asking quick questions of your own to make sure that they were really able to absorb the lesson.
Do maintain a consistent class management method. Find your own way of running the session and stick to it. This will help create a smooth flowing class.
Don’t be inconsistent with your class management. Being lax one day and being strict on the next will simply confuse your student.
Do observe the boundaries between the teacher and the student. Remember that there is a difference between being friendly and being friends.
Don’t ask personal questions. Keep yourself cordial but retain the line that helps you keep things professional or you’ll lose your authority in class.
Do keep your student’s background and personality in mind. Gather some information during your first few meetings and observe his/her conduct in class. Having some knowledge of it will help you deal with your student appropriately.
Don’t forget cultural differences. Asian, Arabic and Western cultures differ quite significantly from each other. Do your research and use the information to build a positive learning environment.
Although this might not cover everything, those mentioned above are some of the things every teacher should take note of. In the next article, I’ll be covering some helpful tips startup teachers might appreciate. –Janine