How to teach English effectively

Teaching English effectively is an elusive skill for many so called teachers. There are so many variables at play that it is more art than science. Everything from the teacher’s personality and demeanor to the students’ classroom dynamic to the techniques used all play a crucial role in how well an ESL teacher can effectively teach the class and the individuals.

A Teacher’s PersonalityA teacher's personality

How to teach English effectively starts with the teacher’s personality and approachability. Now, some people’s natural personality works well, as a good ESL teacher should be engaging, lively and approachable. However, people that are more introverted and less outgoing can still make effective teachers if they apply what I call their “teacher role”. This is much like getting in character for an actor. Away from the classroom the teacher might be shy, quiet and introverted, but once in front of the class the “role” comes out and the teacher acts in such a way to engage the class and draw out the best they can from the students. All our teacher training courses include units on theatre techniques which deal with how to do precisely this. Also this post on improving your teaching stye may be of interest to you.

Classroom Management

Effective teaching also relies on being able to manage the classroom well. You could be the best English teacher in the world, but if you can’t get your students to pay attention and focus, it’ll all be for nothing. Classroom management is a learned skill. Some people are naturally good at this, while others need practice and tips. Some of my top tips include the following:classroom management
• Arrangement of the room
• Use of voice and eye contact
• Start firmer and ease off as the lesson progresses
• Wait for students to follow your instructions (Don’t be weak here)
• Students that disrupt get automatically picked to participate
There is lots more to effective classroom management than this and this course goes into great detail if you would like to learn more.

Teaching Techniques

The techniques used for how to teach English effectively are numerous and beyond the scope of this blog post. However, a few of the main things to consider are the areas below:
• Setting context,
• Eliciting
• Simple teacher language
• Not too much teacher talk
• Being consistent in your presented languageConcept Check
• Body language
• Providing students with as many opportunities for conversation as possible
• Using engaging communicative activities
Again this is but a fraction of the things an effective English teacher must do within the classroom. Concept checks are also a vital skill to utilize in the classroom, so much so I’ve written a blog post on them.
How to teach English effectively is not, as many people think, just being able to speak English and having students parrot after the teacher and rote memorize phrases and verb conjugations. You have to present the English as practical, engaging and fun so the students want to participate and learn. When was the last time you learnt anything you didn’t really want to, even as an adult? I would hazard a guess at never.
You want your students to leave your classroom at the end of the lesson saying to themselves, “hey, that was fun. I want to come back and study with this teacher again.”, or ” Oh no, Math next. I want to stay and study English.”.
If you want to know more about how to teach English effectively, have a look at our courses and pick the right one for you. You can see a course comparison of them here.
Good luck and happy teaching!
April 17, 2015

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