Are you nervous about teaching your first TEFL lessons? You’re not alone. Even experienced teachers get first-class nerves, it’s part of the territory of teaching. You’ve got the theoretical aspect from your TEFL course, now you need to put it into practical use. It’s intimidating, but there are a lot of different methods you can use for your first lessons. Here are a few tips:
How to Build Student-Teacher Rapport from the Start
‘Rapport’ is one of those terms tossed around TEFL terminology, but what it basically means is: creating a basis of trust between you and your students, so that they’re open to learning. Ways you can do this:
Humanize yourself. You don’t have to be buddy-buddy, but your students will naturally be curious about you. Give them a few personal details, have them ask questions or write prompts on the board. Tips:
• Photos: a few photos of friends and family, or places in the U.S. passed around the class gives them a chance to see something ‘foreign.’ It also opens up the floor for questions, and it helps you as a teacher to see where their language skills are.
• Words on the Board: Write a short list of things about yourself (2/black/spaghetti/January/etc. for siblings/favorite color/most hated food/birthday) and elicit the correct questions as a guessing game.
Create a system for remembering names. It doesn’t matter what age your students are, they’re the same as everyone else- they like to be remembered. Find a system to use for each class to help you with their names. It’s difficult with larger class numbers, but taking the time to get to know your students just a little will pay off in the end. Tips:
• Student Interviews and Feedback. Put the students in pairs and have them do short interviews with each other. Tell them the focus of the task is to find something ‘interesting’ about their partner. Make a list of student names, and in feedback make notes next to the name. Example: Marissa: photography.
• Conduct Mini-Interviews Yourself. For smaller classes, you can ask the students questions. Along with their names and ‘unique’ answers, write down a short description of each. Example: Tanai, 6 siblings, pixie cut and glasses.
Include a Mingling Activity for the Whole Class. You’ve introduced yourself, they’ve had a little question practice- now have them mingle. They need to come together as a group, so it’s best if they have a chance to say hello to most of their fellow students if possible. It creates a sense of unanimity from the first TEFL lesson. Tip:
• Find a Mingling Activity at Their Level to Photocopy. Most schools supply a surplus of supplementary materials like ‘Find Someone Who…’ If your school doesn’t, look online- there are thousands of free printable mingling activities available. You can also create your own and make copies.
Your first lessons should be a little scary, but they should also be fun for you and your students. As long as you don’t try to blindly wing it (entering the class and saying hello isn’t a lesson plan) you’ll be fine. Don’t forget your students are rooting for you from the start.