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10 TIPS for teaching beginners from English File 1 Teacher's Book / Oxford University Press/

1. Teaching beginners requires special skills and psychology

They're very satisfying to teach because enthusiasm and motivation is usually high (especially with real beginners), and progress rapid and measurable. But some beginners may lack confidence after several failed attempts to learn (false beginners) and may be easily discouraged. Others may have dogmatic ideas about how they want to learn. Older learners often think they can't learn as well as younger ones, which isn't true.  


2. Be aware of your students' needs

Adapt your teaching and materials accordingly. Do they have particular concerns, e.g. Do they need functional language quickly? Is speaking more important for them than writing?

3. Have clear realistic aims

Always know what you want students to learn in each lesson and tell them. Beginners need a clear, step-by-step approach. Don't aim too high or go too quickly, or all but the strongest will lose motivation. Keep reminding students what they know, what they're going to learn, and how well they're doing. Students need to feel they are moving forward. Use a Progress chart to help students monitor their progress.

4. Adapt to suit your situation

No two teaching situations are the same. Adapt, personalize, and localize the course to suit your students. Spend more time on structures and sounds which students have problems with because of L1 interference. Use the names of locally-famous people and places as examples in exercises to generate interest and humour.

5. Arrange the classroom

Ensure that everyone can see the board and move to pair and group work easily. Experiment - a semi-circle works well. Although some students feel more secure sitting in the same place, encourage them to change partners sometimes

6. Be as visual as possible

Use flashcards, blackboard drawings, and mime to put across meaning. Build up your own library of magazine pictures (e.g. of famous people, activities, etc.). Cover them with plastic for long life.

7. Take care with your board work

The board's your main teaching aid. Think how best to use it. Beginners want to copy everything so write clearly and make sure students copy correctly. Tell them when and when not to write things down. Plan grammar explanations beforehand and decide what you want to highlight. Elicit and mark the stress on new words for students to copy. Use blu-tack to stick pictures on the board. Colour-coding with pens or chalk helps.

8. Control your language

You are your students' main source of listening comprehension. Simplify your English and try to use language they can understand. However, don't speak unnaturally slowly. Always use contracted forms, and insist students do the same. Don't talk too much! A good teacher gets students to do most of the talking.

9. Give clear, simple instructions

Make sure students know exactly what they have to do. Demonstrate activities with a good student first. Explain an activity clearly in English then, if necessary, ask a student to tell the class in L1 to check everyone understands. Teach students the instructions you use most often in class, e.g. Ready? Stop. etc.

10. Pace your classes

Concentration is very tiring for a beginner. Variety of activity, pace, and focus can really help, so try to balance intensive and less demanding activities. Give students a time limit for each activity. Stop an activity at its height - don't wait for it to grind to a halt!


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