Best Practices in
Teaching English


Best Practices in Teaching EnglishThere is some disagreement about best practices in teaching English as a foreign language, but there is usually consensus about these main points.

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The school or college you are working for may have their own "in-house" teaching style you are expected to follow. This should, however, include at least some of the following points:

Aim/objective/purpose

These three words broadly mean the same thing.

They mean you need to have a reason for teaching this particular lesson. You need to have a goal you want to achieve. And you should make the students aware of what that goal is before you start teaching.

This gives them something to aim for, and helps them stay focused on the subject.

Most training courses and in-company observations (when the school or company observe your lessons and give you feedback) will usually criticize a teacher if he or she has not outlined the lesson aims at the beginning of the class.

Most will ask the teacher to write the aims or objectives on the board so the students can refer to them throughout the class, again keeping them focused on what they should be doing.

Level

Teach lessons appropriate to the level of the students in that class.

Almost all agree that materials should be adapted (or "differentiated") where possible to suit students with specific learning needs, whether they are stronger in some areas, or weaker.

You should make your lessons challenging, and push your students to achieve as much as possible, without making the lessons impossible.

Pace and variety

Best teaching practice says that a lesson shouldn't lose its pace, and should contain a variety of tasks.

This is true whichever level and age group you are teaching.

Be aware of the age of your students and give appropriate tasks for that age group.

Whoever you are teaching, don't let the lesson lose its pace, and be prepared to move tasks around, add things to your plan or remove things if you feel you need to.

Progress

Any lesson should give the students the opportunity to progress, and to improve their language skills. Each lesson should end with the students feeling they are one step closer to their goal.

You should also build in opportunities to test your students' progress, either in each lesson, or by regular tests.

Correction

Students' errors do sometimes need to be corrected, but there are ways to do this without focusing on negatives, as negative criticism may embarrass students and put them off learning.

Correction by other students can be encouraged, and you should always try to lead students to see their mistakes and correct them themselves.

In a similar way, you should always encourage your students and praise them for things they do correctly.

Encouragement

Praise, encouragement and a generally positive attitude can often inspire students to want to learn.

Encourage your students to perform to the best of their abilities.

Nurture the shy students and encourage all students to take specific roles in group tasks so everyone has an equal chance to contribute.

Don't have favorite students, but encourage all your students equally.

If you have difficult students, try to find out why they are difficult and find a way to work with that.

It could be that they need more one to one attention, they may not have well-developed social skills, or they may even have medical problems.

Best practices in teaching English can help you focus on what is important in your lessons, and what is best for your students.

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