When I was an ESL teacher, a job I had for 5 years, I always felt that training was never that good. When I first started I didn’t know what to do, and I felt that what I’d been told to do didn’t work too well.
That’s why I made this site, to give you an idea of what you can do in class right now, today. Here are a few easy things to get started:
- Student Interviews: Type up about 10 to 20 pieces of paper with things on them. These can be dog, cat, milk, hotdog, TV, teacher, basketball player…whatever. Put your students into pairs and give each pair a piece of paper. They have to decide which student is that thing, and the other has to interview them. Try 5 easy questions to get started. What do you like? Where do you live? What did you do this morning? What do you like to eat? How old are you?
- Catch Mistakes: A really simple game or activity you can do right on your first day of class involves the students’ books. Divide the class into teams, maybe 2 to 4. Students will have to select one person from their team, and you will give them a sentence to read from the book. If they read it, they get one point. If another group catches them make a mistake, however (either with pronunciation, grammar, or a missed word) that team will get one point. Students can only read once, so the best person in each group can’t keep going.
- Timed Rows: This game is pretty good if you’re teaching ESL in public schools. Students will usually have their desks in long rows, and there’ll be about 5 to 6 of these rows. Either go up or down the row and have a student say a vocabulary word from their book or a list you’ve prepared. The person next to or behind them will then have to say the next word, or even the same word. You’ll time them with a stopwatch to see how long it takes for all the students to say a word. The row that goes the fastest wins.
Hopefully some of those ideas will help you get through your first week or two of teaching ESL. I spent my first week teaching ESL in China, and let me tell you, it was tough. Check out the other great ESL articles on this site, and make sure you take a look at the free files on the English Rocks page. There’re a lot of free ESL resources on this site, so please take advantage of them!
And don’t be afraid to comment on any of these posts. There are thousands of ESL teachers just like you visiting this site each month, if more people share what works and what doesn’t, everyone’ll benefit!