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How I Can Apply New TEFL Skills in My Personal Teaching Experience

How I Can Apply New TEFL Skills in My Personal Teaching Experience | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I have been fascinated by the ESA approach to teaching English as a foreign language. I believe that as Jeremy Harmer codified the concept, he provided an amazing guide for teachers in all areas of education how they can best effectively and engage students in whatever subject they are presenting.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Douglas G. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

My Career

I have had an opportunity to “teach” for years now in various formal and informal situations, including formal religious classes, teaching teachers how to effectively teach, workshops regarding business growth and marketing, effective communication, as well as co-authoring a best selling book, and find that the ESA approach (although not formally aware of this specific written model) has been the mainstay of effective teaching and communication for me, and hopefully effective learning for those in the classroom.

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I have understood for many years that first and foremost in any teaching or training situation, the need to develop a degree of rapport with the audience is a must. With larger audiences, short but fun games involving the audience has been most useful. Also, where the language is not the issue, an effective story that draws out the emotions of the audience or classroom and can be related to the subject at hand is probably one of the best ways to develop rapport and begin the process of engagement by the students. Where language is an issue, the concept of using pictures to tell a story is ideal.

Also, a written survey ahead of time, or a verbal discussion at the beginning of a class regarding the needs and wants of the class participants is most valuable and essential in preparing for the class or knowing the direction to take the class if done in present time. That means that my preparation before class has always been extremely important, and a good knowledge of the subject must exist.

Students’ Engagement in Lessons

Engagement with and by the students is an art in and of itself, and I have found one of the most important lessons I have learned over the years of teaching is to ask pertinent questions and then “shut up”. Sometimes the most difficult thing can be to allow silence to pervade the classroom, but with patience, suddenly the students begin to open up and get engaged in the topic at hand.

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Also, positive and honest acknowledgment of the student and their ideas has been a key for me in developing and maintaining engagement within the classroom.

Being willing to use appropriate eye contact with the student also has been an essential part of my teaching protocol. Short, but direct eye contact with the students shows that you truly have an interest in them and want them to learn the subject matter.


I have enjoyed developing worksheets on the topic at hand and then having the students work on them individually and then work in pairs to discuss the results with each other. Then opening it up to a general discussion, and often a “master-mind” approach with student participation has been a very effective tool in my teaching arsenal.

Often near the end of a class period, I will stop to make sure that the topics that are important to the students for that particular class or workshop have been covered, and if not, cover those areas before the class ends. Although this is done with a specific topic and class, the concept of doing the same thing when teaching a series of curriculum-based English lessons periodically, when the class extends for weeks or months, is most valuable and essential in my opinion.

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I have also found that requesting and receiving written or verbal feedback from the students after a course is completed has provided me with extremely valuable information on how to be a better teacher and trainer.

I look forward to applying these methods within the framework of the ESA model in teaching English as a foreign language.

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