New to teaching, what would you do?

I noticed that they were having free Thai lessons on the beach today, so in my break I pretended I didn’t speak any Thai ( not too far from the truth!) and popped along to see what they would do. From the start it was pretty obvious that although the lady in charge of the lesson was very nice and a native speaker she obviously hadn’t volunteered for the job, was a bit scared and had very little idea of what she was supposed to do. I guess that’s a situation many first time native English speaker teachers find themselves in when they are just plonked down in a classroom and told to teach!

Anyway she first of all brought out a big alphabet chart. Needless to say after 3 or 4 minutes she found out that this wasn’t either a particularly easy nor useful thing to do! So the next step was to start teaching us a few basic phrases. A good step! But… she also gave everyone a blank piece of paper and a pencil and told us to write down what she said. Needless to say thanks to everyone reading what they had written, everything came out in appalling English accents. Luckily she quickly abandoned that idea and decided to just to ask us what we wanted to know and got us to repeat and practice. If we had done a bit of pair work this could have been quite useful. As it happened we just ended up finishing half an hour early.

For an hour’s freebie I guess you can’t complain. But if this was your new job for the next few months or years then I would imagine it’s worth trying to improve things.

The main piece advice I would give anyone who has never taught before is to simply think about…

1) What are your goals for the lesson? What do you want to teach? What do you want the students to walk away with? ( Remember in practice these two usually aren’t the same thing, it takes time and reviews to make things stick.)
2) Then work backwards thinking how ( what activities etc.) you can teach these things.
3) Then think about what order and how much time each will take.

Usually that should get you through the first lesson and you will have learnt an awful lot! From then on it gets a lot easier as you can read up and more importantly practice teaching in front of a mirror before the next lesson. Eventually it becomes easy, but even teachers with decades of experience have to go through these steps when they first teach a new lesson!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!