And the challenges you’ll face when teaching ESL classes will change depending on how many students you have. After all, you can’t do the same things with a class of 50 as you could with a class of 10, and having just 1 ESL student will make it nearly impossible to play any meaningful ESL games.
So what can you do to make teaching ESL classes easier, better, and more productive? Let’s take a look at a few simple things to help you get started.
- Exert Authority: You’re the boss when you’re teaching ESL classes, and you have to let your students know this. If you go into a brand new class and feel unsure of yourself, or a bit doubtful on what you’re going to be doing, the students will sense this and be on you like a pack of wolves. They’ll speak Chinese like crazy, get up out of their desks, and text on their phones like it’s going out of style. Stop all infractions of your rules (you have them, right?) as soon as they happen, and let them know you mean business. This will make all of your subsequent classes so much easier, and headache-free.
- Be Friends: Just because you’re the boss of the class doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, or just friendly, with your students. Teaching ESL classes means that you have to be a bit out there, a bit off the wall at times, which will make your students so much more comfortable about opening up and presenting themselves. Make fun of all the homework they have, commiserate with them on their busy schedules, and poke fun at yourself and anything else that you think will get a rise out of them. If you can make them feel at ease, the rest of your time in class will be so much smoother.
- Don’t Pressure: Point out the mistakes that students make sporadically, at best. If you try and correct every little grammar, spelling, or pronunciation mistake right when they happen, your ESL students will quickly lose confidence. Let them say what they can, and if it’s not perfect, oh well. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and these ESL students aren’t going to be holding forth on complex ideas and issues for some time, if ever. But they can have a fun and enjoyable time expressing themselves as best they can in the comfortable, pressure-free ESL classes you create.
Those are just a few ideas that will make teaching ESL classes easier. There are of course plenty other great ways to get your students comfortable and producing English, but if you can lay some good ground rules and procedures for yourself right away, you’ll be so much farther ahead than other ESL teachers out there.