100 Useful Tips for Teachers

Allowing creativity or focusing on control?

An article by Hernán Giannini. Please click here to download the FREE PDF.

How can I motivate my students to read? What materials can I use to supplement the textbook? Will this role-play activity help my students gain fluency?

There are just a few examples of my wonderings as English teachers. For all my 200 followers and all teachers from this fantastic site I would like to share with you 100 tips on different teaching aspects to help you reflect upon your practice. I hope you find them useful to make your classes more challenging, motivating and effective.

Class Management

  1. Create a positive learning environment.
  2. Planning is the key to success.
  3. Avoid free time. Overplan if necessary.
  4. Make your classes enjoyable and profitable.
  5. Make use of the class period efficiently.
  6. Show a positive attitude and respect for your students and their environment.
  7. Divide the class into two or three activities.
  8. Keep your students actively involved in the class subject.
  9. Have two or three follow up activities prepared.
  10. Tell the students your expectations regarding discipline and respect.

Lesson Planning

  1. Identify goals and objectives of your lesson plan.
  2. Include one or two alternative activities in case something does not go well or students finish early.
  3. Begin the lesson with a low-stress warm-up task that involves all the students (low-stress means something all students can do or review).
  4. Don’t stick religiously to your lesson plan. Be flexible and willing to change plans when you think it appropriate.
  5. Make the lesson as interactive as possible to keep the students focused and involved in learning.
  6. Consider adapting the material suggested in the ready-make plan your course book provides to suit your students’ needs.
  7. Include different types of activities to cater for different learning styles.
  8. End the lesson plan with review activities.
  9. Fit the lesson plan to the students and not the students to the plan.
  10. Evaluate your plan after the class is over; keep a notebook and jot down what went well and what did not.

Materials

  1. Gather all the material you may need in class,before the class begins. Be organized!
  2. Bring authentic material and realia into your lessons whenever possible (magazines, newspapers, objects) in order to help your students gain confidence in real situations.
  3. Present material using different techniques: written, oral, games, a video scene, etc.
  4. Use props and visual aids (flashcards, posters, graphs, picture cards, photographs and maps) to get the students’ attention when you present or review concepts.
  5. Adapt the material to fit your students’ needs and address specific learning goals.
  6. Use audio or audio-visual resources as well. Exposure to spoken English is essential for students to develop their listening skills.
  7. Don’t neglect dictionary work. If you teach students to use the dictionaries effectively, you help them develop their learning autonomy.
  8. If possible, integrate the computer and the internet into your classes. They have become a valuable teaching tool for students of all levels and ages.
  9. Pace the delivery of the material and don’t rush through it. Let your students give it thought.
  10. The more interested you show in your material, the more likely the students will see value in it.

Teaching Grammar

  1. Present grammar in both form and meaning.
  2. Give brief and simple explanations, and use the mother tongue T if necessary (for foreign teachers tip)
  3. Provide clear and contextualized examples.
  4. Use charts and diagrams to show grammatical relationships.
  5. Do not interfere with fluency by focusing too much on grammar.
  6. Focus on strategies that are difficult to produce without mistakes.
  7. Never give too many rules or examples. Students may get confused.
  8. Provide activities that will make students use a certain grammar point.
  9. Give the rule and ask students to provide examples (deductive reasoning) or give examples and elicit the rule from the students (inductive reasoning).
  10. Use games to make grammar practice funnier.

Teaching Vocabulary

  1. Teach the correct pronunciation and spelling of new vocabulary items.
  2. Give grammatical information about the new item. For example, when teaching a verb, give also its past and past participle form.
  3. Provide collocations of a new item. For example, to take/make a step.
  4. Help the students guess the meaning of new items from context.
  5. Use concrete examples with young learners, and more abstract definitions with older learners.
  6. Help students make meaning or sound associations to remember new items.
  7. Use brainstorming to present or revise items.
  8. Encourage students to find the vocabulary learning strategies that best work for them.
  9. If a concept is too difficult to explain in English, use translations for those foreign teachers.
  10. Teach new items at the beginning of the lesson; review them later in the lesson, and again in the next class.

Teaching Listening

  1. Prepare students before listening anything.
  2. Introduce the subject of the listening piece through pictures or any cue you may find appropriate.
  3. Explain any new word they are going to listen to.
  4. Do a brainstorming session about the subject of the listening practice. They will be more prepared to follow the main ideas.
  5. Help them predict what they are going to listen to. Later they confirm their guesses.
  6. Listening for a foreign student is a difficult skill, so build students’ confidence gradually. If they recognize words and ideas, they will be much more motivated.
  7. Give them a reason for listening. Acting, completing an exercise, etc. will give them a reason for listening.
  8. Keep instructions easy and clear. Try to avoid misunderstandings and consequent frustration.
  9. Don’t use a listening that it is too long. Students will lose interest.
  10. Remember you are the first model they listen to. Prepare your listening practice in advance and check the right pronunciation of the words you feel doubtful about.

Teaching Reading

  1. Make sure students identify their purpose in reading: for information, for pleasure, etc.
  2. Train the students to look for the overall meaning of a text instead of trying to understand every word.
  3. Focus on the importance of reading to expand vocabulary and to improve writing skills.
  4. Provide a variety of reading tasks according to the text type and the reading purpose.
  5. Use a combination of bottom-up (decoding words, phrases and sentences) and top-down techniques (previous knowledge, expectations).
  6. Encourage students to guess the meaning of unknown words from context. They should use the dictionary as a last resource, to confirm or revise their guesses.
  7. Structure the reading lesson into before reading, while reading and after reading stages. This will help you make the most of the text and integrate different skills.
  8. Help students develop effective reading strategies: prediction (to anticipate content), skimming (to get the main idea), scanning (to look for specific information), etc.
  9. Combine intensive reading (short texts, in class, focus on details) and extensive reading (longer texts, out of class, focus on global meaning).
  10. Encourage silent reading to increase reading speed. Faster readers become effective readers.

Teaching Speaking

  1. Allow students enough listening practice before asking them to speak to build up their confidence.
  2. Avoid making students feel afraid of making mistakes. Help them see mistakes as part of their learning process.
  3. Teach classroom language so that students are able to interact in English for the very beginning.
  4. Give speaking activities that are relevant to students’ age and interests.
  5. Use simulations and role play for students to practice speaking in a variety of situations and acquire fluency.
  6. Encourage the development of speaking strategies, such as asking for repetition or clarification, using fillers, etc., to help your students become competent speakers.
  7. Provide pair and group work to enhance real interaction, to foster autonomy and make classes more active.
  8. Always give positive feedback and emphasize progress so that students are more motivated to speak.
  9. Give oral homework activities, such as memorizing a dialogue, recording an oral diary, etc., for students to have out-of-class speaking practice.
  10. Emphasize that you will assess oral performance continuously so that students try to talk more.

Teaching Writing

  1. Emphasize the importance of reading. The habit of reading will give your students the necessary tools to form their background information.
  2. Support and encourage your students to write frequently and regularly.
  3. Never use writing as a form of punishment.
  4. Never give negative feedback about students’ pieces of writing.
  5. Give your students plenty of practice. Writing everyday will help them improve.
  6. Suggest topics related to their own lives and experiences. Their motivation and ownership will increase.
  7. The main objective is effective communication of an idea. Don’t worry about correctness. Students are just learning to write.
  8. Encourage students to keep a diary to help them structure their thought and give a chance to write freely.
  9. Let your students read their pieces of writing aloud.
  10. Publish their writings on the walls of the classroom; share it with students in other classes or their families. This will make their writing meaningful.

Assessment and Feedback

  1. Reinforce right answers and be tactful when correcting mistakes.
  2. Whenever possible, elicit the correction from the student who made the mistake.
  3. In fluency work, avoid correcting mistakes. Students may feel discouraged to speak if they are interrupted.
  4. Give supportive and informative feedback on written assignments. For example, write short comments on what is particularly good, and what needs improvement or redoing.
  5. Emphasize the importance of doing the homework for the overall evaluation of students’ performance.
  6. Keep updated to your students’ improvement through short weekly assignments.
  7. Combine formal testing and continuous assessment to obtain a better idea of your students’ progress.
  8. Involve students in the evaluation process, using different techniques, such as self and peerassessment or even asking them to help you design a test.
  9. Keep an assessment record of every student including information about language skills, participation, progress, homework, etc.
  10. Make sure that your criterion is clear to students. They will have better results if they know what you expect from them.

Sources

Brown, H Douglas (2001) Teaching by principles. An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Addison Wesley, Longman Inc.

Nuttal, C (1982) Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language, Heinemann.

Seligson, Paul (1997) Helping Students to Speak. Richmond Publishing.

Ur, Penny (1996) A Course in Language Teaching.

Cambridge University Press.

An article by Hernán Giannini. Please click here to download the FREE PDF.

© Hernán Giannini 2012. Reproduced by Help Me Teach with permission.

Posted by Hernan Giannini on 26 February 2014 at 02:27.

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User Comments

Some useful tips for this young teacher, thanks!
Posted by Brian on 26 February 2014 at 19:07.

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