A Canadian expat that has been living abroad in Asia since 2003, Carrie began her career with Reach To Teach Recruiting in 2006 as an ESL teacher in Taiwan. Today, she and her husband are co-owners of Reach To Teach. In her free time, Carrie works as a freelance travel writer and photographer, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. She writes about her personal travel adventures on Travel Asia – My Several Worlds. Follow Carrie on Google+ or on Twitter @globetrotteri.

12 responses to “Teach English Abroad: 20 Great ESL Teaching Tips”

  1. mircat

    awesome tips–I was a TESOL minor in college…kudos to you!

  2. globetrotteri

    Thank you Mircat. These are usually the tips I give to new teachers when they first arrive in Asia. As you know, it can be intimidating when you’ve never taught before. I learned a lot from all the wonderful teachers and friends that helped me out when I first arrived in Asia.

  3. jorees

    Excellent comments!

    This is a very helpful guide. It also provides insight into your philosophy of teaching which encourages fun and the arts. Happy Days!

  4. globetrotteri

    Thanks Jo. You’re right, I do like to have fun in my classroom. I believe teaching is as fun as you make it. I’ve met so many teachers over the past four years who go into their classroom and bore their students to death. It doesn’t always have to be this way. If my students are bored, then they’re not happy and they won’t try as hard. I think that’s why I’m so successful in my classroom. My students, especially the older ones, give me a lot of feedback as well, which is great, because I know that they aren’t afraid to speak their mind or ask questions.

  5. Mia

    These are great tips to use in the classroom, but I’m curious to know what ESL levels are in your classroom? I’m a first time ESL teacher over in Asia, but find it very difficult to encourage students to ask questions or provide feedback because of their minimal (and I mean MINIMAL) knowledge of the English language. They’re having fun in class when I actually have the time to put together an activity, but with such limited listening comprehension, rules and demonstrations take so long that I usually can only fit in 10 minutes of activity time.

  6. globetrotteri

    Hi Mia

    First off, all the kids in these pictures were basic beginners when I first started teaching them. They had no previous exposure to English prior to my classroom.

    Basic beginners or ‘zero beginners’ are always a challenge to teach, because you have to find other ways to get through to your students without relying on the use of English. I use a lot of energy and move around a lot when I’m in these types of situations. I rely on my body language and noises to express my pleasure or displeasure with my students.

    Games and activities have to be age and level appropriate. I don’t use any games that require a lot of explanation unless I have someone in the class to translate for me. At this level, games should be super simple and easy to play.

    If your students are basic beginners, the golden rule is repeat, repeat, repeat. There are loads of different ways you can go about doing this to make it fun and interesting. Choral and chain drills (also known as mechanical drills) are a standard technique.

    I always use repetitive songs and chants to present questions and answers. I made the tunes up. They’re stupid and silly and really really easy and they work like a charm. You can chant them and add funny little actions. No rules are required. Just a quick and easy demonstration from you is all that is needed.

    I use the same songs in every class and usually see some progress within a week or two. Sometimes I see an immediate improvement. Plus, I’ve noticed that students tend to retain information when it’s presented as a catchy little tune. I love hearing my students singing a song I’ve just taught them when they walk out the door at the end of class.

    Which tips in particular are you concerned about being able to incorporate into your classroom? Perhaps I can give you some suggestions. There are ways to adapt all these tips and still use them in your classroom.

  7. global gal

    Have you ever taught one-on-one oral English classes? I’ve been asked to do some oral English classes with a friend’s girlfriend who wants to travel to the US for university study. Her English level is okay, but she wants to improve her pronunciation, vocabulary and speaking.

    I’m an aviation English teacher right now, which means I teach basic aviation vocabulary and basic flight theory. I’m not very strong in general ESL. Plus, I only have one book – Keep Talking by Friederike Klippel, which is great for activities, but has no lesson plans. On top of all of this, I’m really rather shy.

    Any advice? Should I just have conversations with some vocabulary or more formal lessons? I think she is quite good with grammar. Any insight you can offer would be a huge help. I’ve just been reading your blog a bit and I can tell you must be a good teacher – your writing is very eloquent. Thanks!

  8. globetrotteri

    Hi Global Gal,

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I teach one-on-one English classes to students of different ages and abilities.

    Every student wants to work on their pronunciation, vocabulary and speaking. You may need to do a little digging to find out how to go about planning her lessons.

    Start by asking her what her language goals are. Why does she want to improve her English? There’s a big difference between students who are studying to pass an exam and those who simply want to keep their conversation skills up.

    Set a time line for your classes. Try a three month study period and set some goals for that time. Then re-evaluate once you’ve reached your time marker.

    If your student is an adult, she should tell you what she expects from her lessons with you.

    There are loads of ESL sites with ideas for lesson plans. The grand-daddy of them all is http://www.eslcafe.com
    You could also try http://www.bogglesworldesl.com

    Good luck!

  9. global gal

    Thanks! There is so much info out there on teaching ESL that I guess I was feeling overloaded. Your advice is very helpful! I’ve just got to remember to relax and do the best I can. Have a great time in Japan!!

  10. Afraz Ahmed

    thanks a lot for ur tips.they are very very usefull.Well i am a teacher i owned a english speakin institute so i learned a lot from ur tips nd very thankfull to u

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