The Main Principles of Teaching Beginner Students
In this essay, I will give an introduction on how to teach beginner level students and I will not only outline how to approach the subject matter to teach first but I will also highlight techniques to create a positive learning environment to keep students motivated about studying. I will focus on teaching adults because young learners will need a slightly different approach. However, some common rules apply to both groups of students.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Dennis S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Classroom Environment and Relationships
In general, it is very important to adjust the classroom environment and teaching style to the needs of beginner level students. So it is very important to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in the classroom. This may be achieved by being very friendly, smiling a lot, talking very slowly and use a lot of gestures and body language to make the lessons fun.
A good way to create rapport with the students is to tell the students a bit about yourself. For example, teachers could talk about and show pictures of their home country, favorite food, hobbies, etc.
Another very important (if not the most important) part is to praise students even for little achievements as it will create additional rapport and their overall confidence will increase. It is also essential to use a lot of gestures for example to describe the difference between ‘big’ and ‘small’. This way, the teacher can avoid using the students’ native language which should always be used as a last resort.
The Culture of Making Mistakes
Also, it is vital to tell and show students that it is not bad to make mistakes and instead of being punished they will rather learn from making mistakes.
Furthermore, a good option to elicit vocabulary from the students is the use of flashcards with pictures on them. The same applies to modern technologies such as tablet computers as a tool in the classroom. Thanks to technology we are now able to quickly adjust to changing classroom situations by showing pictures and thus answering questions on the spot.
One important point that needs extra attention when teaching beginners is pronunciation practice. Depending on the country, certain difficulties are very common and should be dealt with from the start. For example, the most common problems in Asia are usually the usage of ‘the’ as in ‘throat’ and the differences between ‘r’ and ‘l’. It is also crucial to practice the way we stress words as this is a particularly big difference between English and Asian languages.
So how do we start and get the students to speak from the very beginning?
During the first lesson, the teacher should play a game so that the students get to know each other and the teacher also has a chance to evaluate language skills that students already might have. It is also a good idea to teach nouns and the basic ‘subject verb object’ structure. Sample sentences could be:
- I am Dennis.
- I like ice cream.
After that, the teacher should write the same sentence but leaving the object blank and practice and elicit nouns by letting the students change the object. The teacher should conclude the lesson by praising everyone for their effort and invite them back.
Also Read: Are there any age limits for TEFL teaching?
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In conclusion, teachers should first focus on creating the proper learning environment for the students and show them that learning a new language can be fun and entertaining. Once rapport between the teacher and students has been created and the students have opened up, it will be much easier to teach the actual subject matter.
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