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What to Expect in a Small ESL Program

What to Expect in a Small ESL Program | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Imagine yourself preparing for your first day at your ESL school. You’ve created a cute presentation for your first lesson, prepared the group activities for your large classroom, and are overjoyed at the thought of meeting your smiley students. Except, you find yourself in a small classroom with one or two students, no tech whatsoever, and figuring out how your group activities are going to work now.

Teaching at small, low-resource ESL programs is a lot different from teaching at a larger program or institution. There are certainly many challenges to overcome but it does come with some pros. If you are teaching for a small ESL program, here are some things to expect.

Creating Your Own Curriculum

If you’re teaching in a small ESL program, you may have the opportunity to create your own curriculum or lesson plans. This will allow you to be creative and curate your lessons to the needs of your students. Luckily, there are tons of free ESL resources online that you can download and incorporate into your lessons. Before you start freestyling your curriculum, however, make sure that it is okay with the coordinator to create your curriculum for the students.

In my case, my students were absolute beginners and were starting with basic English phrases. However, the vocabulary sheets they were provided were cluttered, unorganized, and superabundant for their level. That’s when I decided to create a series of lessons that focused on situational English words and phrases they could use daily. My efforts paid off, for my students were not only relieved from the massive list they were provided, the lessons were more structured and we could tackle each topic at an appropriate pace.

Lack of Resources

Another thing to keep in mind when teaching for a small ESL program is that you may lack resources. You might not have technology such as TVs or projects to show video content, audio files, or in some cases, a coursebook! This is especially the case if your ESL program is still new.

As stated previously, the internet has plenty of ESL materials that can be downloaded or printed for use in ESL classrooms. There are many paid and free options to choose from, so you can find something that will fit your budget. YouTube is also a good resource if you’re needing video or audio for your lessons. You can also create your own ESL material with resources you have at home.

If you want to take the initiative to mitigate this issue, you can consult with the program director to suggest resources or courses that can be used.

Small Classes

Small ESL programs may come with small classroom rosters (I had a class of two students). Many pros come with teaching a small class or an individual student. You will be able to give your student(s) undivided attention and form stronger relationships. You will also be able to plan more effectively for lessons and create something that matches the unique needs of your student(s).

On the downside, group activities may be a challenge, especially if your class has less than ten students. It will be a challenge to have other activities that include speaking or discussion. These are things that you will have to keep in mind if that is the case.

Remember this!

No matter the size of your program, each is unique and will come with its own set of perks or challenges. The most important thing to remember is that your job is to provide your students the best ESL education possible and you shouldn’t let some setbacks prevent that. Small ESL programs or schools can be as much of a rewarding experience as their larger counterparts!

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