Common TEFL Teacher Mistakes To Avoid

During your first year as a TEFL teacher, you’re going to be prone to making some minor mistakes. Don’t worry, they’re fairly prevalent. Teachers who have been in the profession for a long time still make mistakes too!

There will always be mistakes made in the process of becoming a qualified TEFL teacher, but the key goal is to strive to eliminate those that can have a negative impact on your students and as much as Teaching English in a foreign country can be a tremendously rewarding, enriching, and useful experience, it can also be quite stressful

To give you a helping hand, we’ve compiled a list of common teaching mistakes to avoid so that your classes run as smoothly as possible, you’ll be up and running in no time.

child with blocks

Starting a class without a game to break the ice

It’s a fantastic method for you to get to know your students while also allowing them to get to know one another. Students will not feel calm or comfortable if you begin with a fast introduction and then go right into the lecture. Introductions are made, and then an icebreaker is played. Select a game that corresponds to their English proficiency. Beginners could begin with a game of Bingo, for example. It’s an excellent approach to break the ice and introduce numbers or colors to newcomers. An Intermediate class could begin by playing hangman with terminology they already know. It’s helpful to have a list of ice-breakers on hand while teaching English in a foreign country.

Talking too much 

This is probably the most common mistake made by teachers who are just starting out. They feel like they’re the ones who need to be doing all the talking. This is not true! The best way for students to learn a language is by speaking it! So encourage your kids to start conversations instead. Allow your students to go over the answers to an exercise if you need to. It will take time and work to make your classes more student-centered rather than teacher-centered. However, recognizing the issue is the first step.

Creating a lesson plan that is the same for all levels

It may appear straightforward, but many TEFL teachers make this mistake! It is normal to believe that each student you have is at the same level and can be taught in the same manner. Starting a new class with comprehension questions to measure the level of all students is one method to avoid this happening. This will help you to design and fine-tune your lesson plans for all levels that are present in your class!

Slowing down or speeding up your speech

You can always repeat yourself or sound out words to your student but it’s important to remember when learning a language, speak how you would want to be spoken to. Even the brightest kids in your class will be confused if you speak far too quickly. Remember, you may be the only native English speaker they’ve ever spoken with before. Speaking slowly and parsing down each word will also affect their perception of how English sounds in real life.

Forgetting about your students’ goals

At the start of a class, you should assess the goals of each student. What they want to achieve from learning English, you can then alter your classes to suit these goals. Most of your students will be using English to achieve very particular goals, such as passing an English assessment test, conversing, getting into a specific school, or even becoming an English teacher. Keep in mind that English is a talent that every student will utilize in the actual world when making lesson plans and speaking in class.

Using Native tongue

Another typical blunder made by teachers is allowing students to use their home language excessively. This issue is very dependent on the sort of student and their academic level. Some students will want a lot of assistance in translating words and phrases back into their home language, therefore the teacher should make an effort to do so. However, if they’re at a higher level, be sure they’re not asking you questions or responding to you in their own language. If students do utilize their original tongue, it should always be followed by an English sentence.

Losing students attention

Even the most experienced TEFL teachers will find teaching English challenging and make mistakes, but don’t let that discourage you! This isn’t because it’s impossible to keep youngsters entertained at all times; rather, children are unpredictable but it’s simply part of the job! Keep calm and concentrate on the task at hand: keeping your students interested.

There are a variety of beneficial and practical strategies to keep your students involved and motivated throughout  English classes, especially if they’re having trouble with the topic or keeping focused, or both. Here are some suggestions for keeping the attention of young students:

  1. TEFL games and activities for the virtual classroom
  2. When teaching English, you can use entertaining toys and other props.
  3. Incorporating pop culture into courses, such as music, shows, or movies.
  4. Singing kids’ TEFL songs with your students.

Luckily for you, we have a whole blog post with inspiration for TEFL games for your classroom, to keep your classes fun and your students entertained! Click here to read more.

Classroom management that is poor or inconsistent

This is one of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced TEFL teachers. It’s not like teaching the past simple tense; classroom management isn’t a precise science. Because each group of students is unique, regulations must be established as a group. The issue arises from the fact that rookie teachers may lack a distinct teaching style. As a result, they become either overly strict or too loose. There are many articles on good classroom management that you can read; you may agree with some of the approaches, disagree with others, and decide to use your own. For example, instead of using stickers to reward children, you may use a different strategy. It’s not about being more strict, but about being more consistent. Nothing is more damaging to a group of pupils than making hollow promises or making weak threats. Stick to your plan once you’ve decided how you’ll run your class.

Remember to provide feedback.

Make sure to give your pupils feedback on each activity you give them, whether it’s a writing assignment, homework, or a word search. Feedback allows you to identify and rectify faults, allows students to ask questions, and serves as a great transition between exercises. You’ll appear more organized and professional if you get feedback on your assignments and assessments.

In conclusion, TEFL teachers will continue to make mistakes it might be helpful for you for a colleague in your school to observe you from time to time to ensure you are on track to achieve the aim of successful teaching. However, as long as you avoid the most common mistakes we listed above, everything will work out! The most important thing is that you enjoy the experience

There’s always more to learn and more confidence to gain, no matter where you are in your TEFL career! Click here for information on our range of courses!

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