What Am I Supposed to Do in My First Lesson?
Admin - Aug 14 2015
It’s one of the unwritten fears of teaching English abroad; stepping into your first lesson scares everyone silly.
If someone tells you they weren’t scared before their first lesson, they’re lying through their teeth. If they insist that they weren’t remotely nervous, they’re probably a lunatic, and you should walk slowly away, avoiding eye contact and making soothing noises. Anyway, back to the matter in hand, you can keep those ‘Oh my god, it’s my first English lesson’ nerves to a minimum by following these five simple bits of advice.
1: Prepare an Appropriate Lesson Plan in Advance
Doesn’t get more obvious than that does it? If you’ve got a good lesson plan nailed, the rest should come pretty easily. Just make sure you know the age of the students and their level of English before you start planning the lesson. It’s also worth checking out what type of classroom you’ll be teaching in and what facilities it has. As a rule of thumb, when your teaching kids in a school environment they’ll be happy to have a pretty informal first lesson where you introduce yourself to them and get them to introduce themselves to you (either through a written or oral task).
When you’re teaching adults who are actually paying for your time, it is usually a good idea to find out beforehand whereabouts they are with their studies and whether they have been working through a curriculum: if they have, you’ll just need to do a quick introduction and then get back into the serious study. For many adult students learning English is a huge investment and they take it very seriously and they won’t appreciate a full hour of information about you, your home town and your childhood pets.
2: Make The Classroom Your Domain
Remember, it is your classroom. So arrange it how you want it before your students come in. Then when they start arriving for the lesson, greet them as they enter the classroom. A simple ‘Hello, I’m Mr Smith’ is fine. It sets you up as the teacher and establishes a rapport between you and your students. And it beats the hell out of standing in front of a rowdy class desperately trying to get their attention.
3: Stop Talking!
Photo by Clover Autrey
Cast your mind back to when you were at school. Remember those teachers who just stood at the front of the class and talked at you. They seemed to love the sound of their own voice and all you ever did in their lessons was take notes and clock watch. Well, you don’t want to be one of those teachers for two very good reasons. Talking for a whole lesson is really hard work and takes hours of planning and writing. And the students don’t learn much, they get bored silly and they disrupt the class.
Make sure the lesson plan for your first TEFL lesson has some group activities and ice-breakers so that your students spend some time working together and talking amongst themselves. That way both you and your students will be enjoying yourself in no time.
4: Be In Control
Remember the old saying ‘First impressions count’. That’s what makes it so important to take control of your first lesson. You don’t want to set yourself up as a hard, harsh teacher that scares the bejesus out of their students, but you don’t want to be a pushover either. So it’s a good idea to set out what you expect from your students in the first lesson and what will happen if they don’t stick to a few basic rules.
You may feel a little awkward standing in front of the class and laying down the law, but it’ll make things loads easier in the future. Ensure that your body language is relaxed and confident and that you talk in a clear and authoritative tone of voice, if you can manage that everything else will fall into place and being ‘teacher’ will become second nature.
5: Relax And Enjoy It.
When you’re walking to that first lesson in a foreign classroom remember three things.
1: Deep down you do want to be there.
2: Your students want you there.
3: The school decided you had everything they wanted from a teacher.
So just relax and enjoy it. This is what all the study, long haul flights, vaccinations, visa forms and course fees was about. You’ll be a great teacher and this is just the start of your big TEFL adventure. It’s exciting, not scary. Honest!
Are you a TEFL teacher? Can you remember what you did in your first lesson?
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