12 Tips for the First-Time TEFL Teacher

We have asked our online and classroom course tutors for their tips and advice for all those newly qualified TEFL Org graduates heading into the EFL classroom for the first time. Our tutors have been teaching English here in the UK and abroad for decades and understand the pitfalls newly qualified teachers face.

Check out their 12 top tips:

1. Observe, observe, observe. So, when you arrive at your first school, peer observe a lot, watch the senior teachers and DOS (Director of Studies) as much as you can. You’ll pick up so much from doing that, it’s the best way to get ideas and improve.

– Rachael, Senior Classroom Tutor

2. Always get to class 10 minutes before so you can set up the seats etcetera and your materials. I like to play soft classical/jazz music for adults whilst they come into the class.  This helps to relax them especially if they have just come from work.

– Thomas, Online Courses Manager

3. Prepare your lessons meticulously and, if anything, over plan. That is, prepare more than enough material for your scheduled lesson since there’s nothing worse than the lesson petering out five minutes before it is due to end – and with nothing up your sleeve. Of course, the moral of that is: always have something extra up your sleeve!

– Megan, Online TEFL tutor

4. Make sure you understand any particular grammar point you aim to teach. So making a plan on it gives you the opportunity to learn that grammar point inside out. Also; don’t forget to prepare for any questions they may have and/or typical difficulties they may have with it. For examples many students confuse meaning between past simple & present participle.

– Thomas, Online Courses Manager

5. Be prepared to adapt and be flexible – don’t worry if you don’t follow your lesson plan rigidly. On the other hand, try not to get side-tracked and change your lesson completely every time a student asks a question- e.g. you are teaching the first conditional and somebody asks about the second, don’t start going into detail re the 2nd conditional.

– Joanna, Online TEFL Tutor

6. Be an actor (but don’t be a clown!). Act confident and the confidence will come.

– Megan, Online TEFL Tutor

7. Before you accept a teaching post abroad find out what resources you will have access to.

– Jo, Online TEFL tutor

8. Don’t panic if you run out of materials – you can always revisit what you have already done- do a running dictation, group work- questions and answers to texts- then redistribute the questions and answers and have the groups answer them. Keep a log of similar ideas.

– Jo, Online TEFL tutor

9. Be prepared for cultural differences – e.g. you might have students who fall asleep in your classes, it might be because your class is one their many activities (e.g. students in Japan), or they have to get up early and work very hard before they come to your class (e.g. Eritrea) Consult your employer on what’s the best course of action to take.

– Joanna, Online TEFL tutor

10. Always give students homework, even adults. If they don’t do it look a little disappointed. If students don’t do homework they will forget everything really quickly and not improve and probably put the blame on you. I try to find out what interests them and provide homework based on that. Maybe ask them to do it on the PC, emails etcetera instead of using boring gap fills and worksheets from the course book.

– Thomas, Online Courses Manager

11. You don’t need to have an answer to everything (e.g. grammar) – if you don’t know the answer tell the students you will find out and get back to them on that.

– Jo, Online TEFL tutor

12. My two “rules” of a successful lesson: Make sure your students leave the class wearing a smile and make sure they can say a little more than when they walked in.

– Asif, Classroom and Online Tutor

Have you got any tips or advice for the first-time EFL teacher? Share yours in the comments section below!

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