1. Speak clearly, slowly and distinctly.
2. Manage your class effectively. It’s important to establish and enforce classroom rules, but remember that it’s also important to have fun with your students. If you’re having fun, they’re having fun. My students are much more responsive and willing to participate when they are having a little bit of fun in class. Try not to be too strict and remember to smile.
3. Talk about yourself. Tell your students about your family and friends. Bring in photos from home. Share personal stories with them.
4. Be funny. Students will really enjoy your class if you make them laugh. Don’t be afraid to play the fool or make fun of yourself.
5. Use lots of energy when you’re teaching. Move around your classroom. Use gestures and noises to describe things. Make lots of faces and draw pictures. Why? Providing some light entertainment keeps their attention focused on you.
6. Games are always successful, even with older students. Never underestimate what you can teach with a simple game.
7. When you are giving instructions on how to play a game, repeat your instructions and demonstrate how to play.
8. Positive reinforcement is important to new language learners of every age. Compliment your students, even if they make mistakes.
9. Music makes learning interesting and fun. There are loads of activities you can use music with. I’ve captured and held the attention of all my classes with a little music. Music takes away feelings of self-consciousness and it encourages students to open their mouths and let loose.
10. Repetition is a key tool in the ESL classroom. There are lots of games and activities that you can use in the classroom to encourage students to speak out. Make sure you teach the answer to the entire class and have them repeat it out loud before asking each students separately.
Happy students make happy teachers.
11. Introduce and teach new vocabulary every lesson.
12. Use some favorite slang terms and sayings in the classroom. People get sick of hearing the same standard responses taught throughout the public school system. “How are you? and “I’m fine, thank you. And you?” are typical examples. I find that students who have had these responses drilled into them often sound dull, monotonous and insincere. If a student asks me, “What’s up?” or answers with, “I’m OK!” or “Not much,” I’m usually pretty happy about it.
13. Try to get every student in each class to speak. Remember that pronunciation is really important. Often, students great instruction from their public school English teachers, but these teachers generally lack the ability to teach pronunciation effectively because they aren’t native English speakers.
14. Traditional Chinese school systems do not encourage students to ask questions. Encourage your students to ask you questions. Once they know it’s OK to ask or say they don’t understand, it makes for an easier learning environment.
15. Encourage your students to speak out as much as they can and never belittle their ability or correct their mistakes by saying, “You’re wrong.” Just correct the student by repeating the answer correctly. If the student is still struggling, teach it to the class again as a whole.
16. Pointing is rude. Extend your hand out with the palm up when asking a student to answer.
17. Make sure you know and understand your students learning ability.
18. Be adaptable. If a lesson or activity isn’t working, there’s nothing wrong with scrapping it quickly and trying something else.
19. Always have backup games and activities, especially if you’re introducing new material. Don’t be afraid to use your ‘tried and true golden oldies’ if you feel you’re bombing a lesson.
20. Remember that a good teacher also learns from his/her students. The lessons always work both ways.