If you are considering doing a teaching placement on your year abroad, it can be a daunting thing. I’d never taught before, and the idea of standing up in front of a huge group of people and talking was terrifying to me. I’m working through the British Council, and they run an introduction course before you start work, so I wanted to up share some advice they gave us, but also that I’ve picked up along the way.
1. Act confident. It is so important to act as though you’re not scared, even if you are. Walk into the room with your head held high, stand strong and smile. Talk in a loud, confident voice and speak slowly – rushing will make you appear nervous.
2. Aim the lessons at the students. Try and plan the lesson around the class’ level of English, and as you go through the term, try and note their strengths and weakness, and what they enjoy. Every class will be different, and will respond to different things – a lesson may be great with one class, but a flop with another. Don’t be discouraged by this!
3. Plan lessons carefully. The more work you do on a lesson, the more confident you will be with what your doing. For the first few weeks I practised my lessons in my bedroom, checking I knew how to explain things simply, and looking up definitions for words I didn’t know. You may well be asked to speak on a topic you don’t know much about, and so it’s important to do your research.
4. Get them talking. Your role is to help improve the students’ spoken English, as having a native speaker is a real asset for this. Play games, do discussions, get them moving around and talking. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it’s so important to make them confident enough to talk, and give them the opportunity to practise.
5. Learn to have thick skin. Sometimes students will sit in class and laugh, or they’ll whisper to the person next to them. It’s very easy to believe they’re talking about you, and they may be, but try not to be affected by this. Keep up the confident exterior, and don’t give them the advantage.
6. Be something between a teacher and a friend. I have found that the best approach as a language assistant is to laugh with them, make jokes and sit and chat to them during class, as this makes them more willing to talk to you, but don’t let them forget that you are still their teacher.
7. Be patient. Sometimes pupils will be tired, have just taken a test, or be too shy to say anything. Try and at least get something out of them, but don’t be phased or disappointed if a class has a bad day.
I hope that these will be helpful to prospective teachers reading this!
Best of luck!