1. LISTEN TO YOUR STUDENTS.
Be interested in their lives, not just their language. Listen to what they say, not just how they say it.
Try to understand their needs, strengths and weaknesses so you can adapt your classes to give your students what they really want.
2. LET YOUR STUDENTS SPEAK.
Language is interpersonal and most students want to learn English to communicate. To learn a language you need practice. Students need lots of opportunities for real communication in English, with each other and with you. Plan classes with plenty of student involvement and communication.
3. TALK TO YOUR STUDENTS.
Another key ingredient in learning a language is exposure. Talk to your students – let them hear plenty of natural English from you, as well as talking to each other. Remember that most of their exposure to natural English may come from you! But keep your opinions to yourself when it comes to ‘controversial’ topics – there may not be an apple for the teacher after you claim in Spain that “bull-fighting is barbaric”…
4. BE A PERSON NOT JUST A TEACHER.
Enjoy yourself and enjoy being with your learners. Rather than thinking ‘teacher versus students’, think that you are simply people in a classroom with a common goal. Don’t be the centre of attention all the time – let your learners be the stars, too – they’ll appreciate it. Remember that students do value your knowledge and competence, but above all they value respect, patience, fairness, enthusiasm, and a genuine interest in them as people.
5. MOTIVATE AND CHALLENGE YOUR STUDENTS – A THIRD VITAL COMPONENT IN LANGUAGE LEARNING IS MOTIVATION.
The most successful teachers are those who motivate their students to study not just in the classroom, but also outside. These students are the ones who make the most progress, and progress means happy customers! So, use your imagination to make your classes creative, memorable and fun, but always with a clear learning purpose. It’s a good idea to let your students know what you’re doing and why – they will be more co-operative if they see you have a clear purpose and method. Encourage students to work independently of you, too. Let them have a voice in the classroom – in ‘our classroom’ not ‘my classroom’- and let them share the responsibility of learning with you.
6. BE PROFESSIONAL.
Prepare your lessons carefully – your students are paying a lot of money for your classes and expect you to do your best! Be organised but flexible. Be disciplined with Young Learners so that they don’t run wild! And don’t forget to be quick and efficient with any administrative tasks you have to do – that’s part of your job, too, and, even if you don’t ‘like’ it, others in the school depend on it.
7. USE TECHNOLOGY.
Many adults and most young learners and teens today will expect you to use technology in the classroom. Take advantage of the Internet to bring lots of natural English to the classroom and to add variety to your lessons – you can use videos, podcasts, songs, current authentic texts etcetera. Have a class webpage or social network, like Edmundo, to share work and ideas and, very importantly, to socialise in English!
8. LEARN MORE ABOUT TEACHING.
Continuing your professional development as an ELT teacher will not only make you more employable and effective, but the satisfaction of growing experience and competence will keep you feeling fresh and enthusiastic in your daily classes. Take a Cambridge CELTA if you haven’t been formally trained as an ELT teacher. If you have, think about doing a specialist training course, such as the International House Certificate in Young Learners or the IH BET (Teaching Business English Certificate), or any of the various online teacher training courses on offer. If you have more extensive experience, then think about doing the Cambridge DELTA. Read books, articles, websites and blogs about ELT and share ideas with other professionals. Observe other teachers in your school and let them observe you. Ask your students for feedback on your lessons. Learn about learning and about language – a doctor needs to know what a ‘cleft palate’ is and you need to know what a ‘cleft sentence’ is. Experiment with new ideas and approaches and keep an open but critical mind about what works and what doesn’t.
9. BE A STUDENT YOURSELF.
The best way to learn how students feel and what they need is to learn a language yourself!
10. DON’T BE BORING!
This is the cardinal sin! Being bored leads to being boring, just as being interested leads to being interesting. Enthusiasm is infectious. Enjoy your classes and your learners, give them your best, and feel proud of the difference you can make in their lives.