7 Top Tips for Teaching English to Beginners
Have you suddenly found yourself teaching complete beginners? You are certainly not alone! We are here to help. So, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to teaching English to newbies!
✔️ Planning & Preparation
Lesson planning can be time-consuming, but in order to help your beginners make progress, a good lesson plan is essential. It is often said that if we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail. So, always bear in mind that careful preparation allows every EFL teacher to map out a great learning path.
For example, lesson planning will help you to know what realia you should bring to your next lesson. Realia are any real objects you can use in the classroom to make the learning experience more memorable for your students. And you should use them really often because they can easily grab all beginners’ attention and
they appeal to both visual and kinaesthetic learners of all ages!
✔️ Show, Don’t Tell
Good teachers always use more than words to explain new vocabulary and ideas. Body language can reinforce what you want to say and gestures really help. Hand movements sometimes speak louder than words; it is well established in numerous behavioural studies in psychology and education that gesticulation and speech are interrelated. Actually, teaching English to beginners without gesticulation is like teaching with your hands tied behind your back!
✔️ Total Physical Response
Total Physical Response (TPR) can also help. Created by Dr. James Asher, TPR is based on the way all children learn their mother tongue. And it has been proved that it can drastically reduce the use of learners’ native language (L1) in second or foreign language teaching!
When you learn a language as a child, you don’t just listen to some words and try to repeat them. You watch your parents, you try to understand what their words mean and you respond with actions. For example, think of a mother who asks her son to get a ball. The little boy will just go and get it without saying anything. He can’t talk, but he certainly can take in the language!
So, get inspired, say a phrase, demonstrate an action and then say again the phrase as a command. For example, the phrase ‘Open your books’ is a great example of easy classroom language that you can use during your first lessons.
✔️ Keep It Simple
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is a design principle which states that all systems should always be as simple as possible. The term was first used in the U.S. Navy in 1960 but it can also be brought to bear in your EFL classroom!
Speak slowly and clearly. If necessary, go over the same points again and again. Speaking louder than you usually do can also help sometimes. And remember not to overwhelm your students with long and complicated sentences when giving
✔️ Routine & Fun
Developing a routine in your classroom makes giving instructions much faster. However, you do not want to be a boring teacher, right? That’s why it is a great idea to always remember to add a little bit of unexpected fun!
For example, when teaching phonics or new vocabulary, you can use music to create a positive and uplifting atmosphere. In this way, beginners memorise sounds and new words in an enjoyable way. After all, it's a lot easier to remember a catchy song than it is to remember pronunciation rules and long strings of words. Advertisers often use jingles to make their messages stick in our heads; do the same in your EFL classroom!
✔️ Visual Stimuli
How would you describe an apple to someone who doesn’t speak your mother tongue? The simplest thing to do would be to show them a picture of an apple, right?
Pictures, flashcards, infographics and illustrations can help. Most beginners study better with visual aids. Using educational videos or 3D animated cartoons and educational board games for children or adventurous games for teenagers and adults can also help foster a positive learning attitude. And printing some useful posters to put up on the classroom walls is always a great idea!
✔️ Practice Makes Perfect
Learning a foreign language is like going to the gym. Our body and muscles are strengthened only if we practise on a regular basis. So, explain to your students that they will make mistakes, but that’s OK. Help them to embrace their mistakes andlearn from them. Use positive reinforcement strategies, help your students celebrate their small achievements and reward good work and effort.
To find more useful tips for teaching English, learn more about how you can teach EFL newcomers and for inspirational guidance and free resources, check out our Resources for English Teachers.
Ready to start teaching English to newbies?
Good luck to all you great teachers out there!