ESL Student Teachers Ready to Start their First Job
You have arrived at the location of your new English second language teaching position. Your first class of teens and adults begins tomorrow morning. You’re feeling nervous, excited and a little overwhelmed by your new surroundings. What can you do to help yourself feel more secure?
No matter where you are, your students won’t know you and they may not know each other. They will likely be curious about you. They’ll want to know if you are alone, they’ll want to hear about your family and they’ll be interested in where you are from. Some of your personal interests may become an important link for making friends. You don’t likely speak their language and it’s important that you speak only English while in class. To facilitate communication you can prepare some pictures of yourself, perhaps some of your special interests and/or a map of your homeland.
In addition to the above suggestions, take an activity that would be suitable for almost any English second language level. We suggest one that introduces the students to each other. It’s very important to get them talking and laughing during that first lesson.
We suggest that you begin the lesson with introductions. Get to know your students. Take some time to learn about your students’ backgrounds, interests, and goals. This will help you tailor your lessons to their needs and keep them engaged.
When you are ready to start the class write your name on the board and say, “My name is ______.”
Then have the students introduce themselves in the same way. It is best to have the class organized in a U shape so they can see each other and the board at the front of the room.
As you listen to the students talk you learn a little about their level of English. In order for everyone to get to know each other, continue using any of your own ideas or any of the suggestions mentioned above.
Your next step may be one of several possibilities according to the decisions made by your employer.
– You may have been provided with a curriculum and told the English language level of your students.
– Your employer may want you to choose from a variety of programs available in the teacher’s library.
– You may have been asked to give your students a levels placement test.
– You may have been asked to suggest an ESL curriculum.
No matter where you go you will need to adapt to your specific situation. Every culture is different and every class within that culture has unique qualities.
Some general tips:
- Speak slowly and clearly. Speak slowly and clearly. Avoid a patronizing or condescending tone. Speak at a level that is appropriate for your students’ language proficiency, and be patient and encouraging as they build their language skills. The introductions and general initial conversation will let you know how to proceed and what level you students are at.
- Build in opportunities for practice. Provide plenty of opportunities for your students to practice their language skills, both in class and outside of class. This can include group discussions, role-playing activities, and homework assignments. Encouraging practice is the core of what you will be doing in the classroom.
- Be culturally sensitive. Be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences that may impact your students’ learning experience. Avoid making assumptions or stereotypes about your students, and strive to create an inclusive and respectful classroom environment.
- Be flexible. Be prepared to adapt your teaching style and lesson plans based on your students’ needs and interests. Be open to feedback and willing to make adjustments as necessary. Every class is different and the lesson times and style will vary widely with every group.