Survival Tips for Your First Day in the EFL Classroom–No Experience? No Problem!

The first day of a new job is always an anxious time. Even if you have been looking forward to the challenge and know that this is what you want to do, it is perfectly natural to feel nervous before you step into the classroom and face the music. On a TEFL course like ours, there will be plenty of information about handling your first day. Still, the reality is always a little bit different, and there is only one way to get past the first-day nerves, and that too get into the classroom and show them what an excellent teacher you are. Here are some of the best survival tips from those who have gone before you to make your first day in the TEFL classroom a hit.

Be on Time

It would be best if you weren’t late for your first day in the classroom. It sets a deplorable example if the teacher isn’t there by the time the class is supposed to start. Be early, be on time, but whatever happens, don’t be late. If you know you struggle to get somewhere on time, you should set an earlier alarm and ensure you arrive with a few minutes to spare. You will need to know where your classroom is and who your students will be and have ready any lesson plans and equipment needed for the day. Arriving late and flustered it’s not good as you will be on the back foot all day; it also doesn’t leave an excellent impression on the management team.

Lesson Plans

Lesson planning may seem like a waste of time but believe us when we say it is invaluable. There are many different styles of lesson planning, and yours will evolve. The worst thing you can do is go into the classroom without a lesson plan and end up with no material to teach from. A lesson plan may be written out in longhand, some teachers like to use print cards, and some schools offer templates to the teachers so that they have a uniform lesson plan making it easier if substitute teachers are required and so that they can see you are meeting the curriculum checkpoints.

In your course, you should have been given a lot of information about the sorts of things to include in a lesson plan, and you will soon find it becomes second nature. It also makes it easy to decide what resources you need daily when you work from lesson plans.


Break the Ice

The most memorable and successful teachers are those who have a natural rapport with students. While you are the authority figure in the classroom, you should be aware that there is an element of relaxed fun in English as a foreign language. A great way to get to know your class and break the ice is to play a short game. It’s also perfect for winding down at the end of the session, and of course, if you pick your games well, you will still be helping them with their English skills.

For example, hangman, Pictionary, or bamboozle are all fun games that happen to brush up English skills. It doesn’t have to be head-down learning all the time. This approach of a rigorous and severe classroom can put learners off and isolate them, making it hard for you to pass on your knowledge.

Have a Chat

Learning English as a foreign language is one subject where chatting in the classroom can be seen as productive learning time. Developing a rapport is essential, so once you’ve broken the ice, you can move on to an exercise in getting to know each other. Teachers should be approachable and human rather than authoritarian and cold.

You could break the ice by getting everyone to introduce themselves in English and see if they can tell you a fact about their life that other people might not know. You should also participate in the game; in fact, go first and introduce yourself and tell them something interesting about who you are. Be sure to include lots of speaking practice in your lesson planning, and there are plenty of activities you can do where talking to each other and working in pairs will help the students with their spoken English skills.

elt test tefl

Make an Effort

If you think back to the teachers you liked the most yourself in school, it was probably the ones who seemed to care and interact with you on a personal level. It is hard for teachers to remember everyone’s name, but it’s also an essential skill you should try to develop. Students want to think of themselves as more than just a body sitting in a chair. We believe it’s an excellent idea and even backed up by research. People are more likely to respond positively to the teacher if they can name and genuinely seem to be.

There are many ways to build memory skills, and for the first couple of sessions, you could ask each person to wear a badge with her name on it. But after the first week or so, you need to get it clear in your head what each student is called and make sure you refer to them by name when you need to talk to them. Some teachers like a seating plan so that people sit in the same chair every time; this works well for younger children, but if you’re teaching adult learners, this might seem a little insulting to them, and it’s up to you to learn their names and get it right.

Fake it

Even if your insides are doing somersaults and you feel like you’re shaking with fear, you need to present a confident exterior to your class. Teaching is a form of public speaking; while you are delivering the critical points of the lesson, everyone is looking at you and watching your every move. Fake it till you make it is the best advice here. Take a deep breath, and remember that you have learned everything you need on your tea EFL certification course and have the skills to deliver a first-class lesson. Generally, even if you’re new to a school, we don’t suggest you tell students that it’s the first time you’ve ever taught, as this can make things even harder. So ooze confidence, smile, hold your head up high, and believe you can do this.

Use Friends and Family

One of the critical tricks to succeeding at anything is to practice. So why not practice with your friends and family? Ask them to give you honest feedback about whether you are speaking clearly or flustered and racing through the tasks you have prepared. It can be daunting to stand up in a room full of people you have never met, especially if you are teaching adult learners, as some may even be older. Remember that you have qualified to teach English as a foreign language and have every right to be there.

When practicing with your friends and family, you can ask them if they have any ideas to make your delivery seem more polished and experienced. Decide in advance that you will not get upset if they offer honest feedback because this gives you a chance to work on any areas they feel you are struggling with, and you can resolve them before you reach the actual classroom.

couple working online

Consider Your Class

You are in the same position as your peers during your TEFL course. You are all learning together; none have taught English as a foreign language. When you leave the classroom, you will all have a very different experience from each other. Some of you will be heading abroad, and maybe the classrooms will be elementary with few resources. Others may work in international schools and find it is a very slick operation with state-of-the-art equipment. Some of our alums go on to teach business English to adults, and others choose to work with primary school children or even secondary school children.

Some people will teach English online; a virtual classroom is a different experience. However, the advice to consider your class is universal regardless of whom you prepare. Think about your learners and who they might be. If you teach very young children, you need to tailor your course to appeal to them. Very young children do well with props, maybe puppets and bright, simple pictures. Business learners will expect a degree of professionalism, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun in the classroom. So spend some time thinking about how best to captivate your audience based on what you know about them, which is likely their age and the type of English they are hoping to learn.

Different Learning Styles

Remember that everyone learns differently. Some people learn visually, some learn aurally, and some prefer kinaesthetic learning. When you prepare lesson plans is essential to try and cover all of these learning styles. Consider teaching the names of fruit as an example. Presenting the actual fruits will help kinaesthetic learners remember the information you are telling them. Ensuring that a corresponding picture appears on any handouts will help those who learn visually, and perhaps you could play a game where they take turns repeating the English name when someone holds up a particular fruit.

This will, of course, appeal to aural learners. As you get to know your students, you will begin to see how they learn, and you can start to tweak lesson materials to ensure that everyone is keeping up and accessing your lessons in the way that works best for them.

You Are Not Alone!

There are plenty of online support groups, and we actively encourage our students to form peer relationships to support each other. There is lots of information available for our ex-students that can help them create the perfect lesson plan, giving you plenty of confidence for your first day. Also, so you need to remember that your students can get just as nervous as you can about the first day in a new classroom. This can be especially true for adult learners because, as children learning forms a considerable part of our daily routine, but when we reach adulthood and have a full-time job, it can be hard to adjust to going back to the classroom and accepting you don’t understand the subject matter. The most important thing to them on their first day is a friendly, happy face and someone who seems pleased to see them. 

So there you have it, take a deep breath and try to relax. You have this and can make your classroom a happy and successful learning environment. Ensure you are not hungry or thirsty when entering the classroom, as this can affect your performance. You passed your certificate, so your learning provider, whether us or someone else, has confirmed that you meet the required standard to teach English as a foreign language in a classroom. The good news is that you only get one first day as an English teacher. You will never have to worry about having your first day ever again. The next time you change jobs and start somewhere new, you will have gained a lot of classroom experience and be more than ready for your new challenge. So in the meantime, please take a deep breath and get them.

All our accredited courses include a PDF version of your certificate. This is perfect for applying for jobs online or abroad. Sometimes, you may need a hard copy. We have options available, but there is an extra cost for print and postage.

Many TEFL employers will prefer or be required to receive official verification that your teacher training certificate is authentic. This is to uphold high teaching standards in the industry.

Your future employer can check the genuine status of your TEFL Institute of Ireland issued certificate by visiting our Employer Certificate Verification page and entering the unique identifier from either your digital or hard copy certificate. Ofqual Level 5 certificates are issued by TQUK, and you can verify this certificate here.  

Our team is not just here to get you TEFL qualified, but also to help you land your first teaching job. With your TEFL certificate, you’ll get expert job hunting advice and lifetime access to our TEFL jobs board. We can also tell you more about our paid teaching internships abroad. Plus, give you our best advice on getting hired if you’re looking for a longer-term teaching role. You can also download our Job Hunter’s Guide for more insider tips.

Our team is here to support you through every step of your journey, and that includes after you’ve completed your course with us. We’re committed to helping you achieve your TEFL goals. Whether you need job hunting advice or interview tips, we can assist you. Our blogs and handy online brochures also provide a wealth of knowledge to help you succeed in TEFL.

There are many ways to gain work experience to enhance your CV. If you have no teaching experience, we suggest you do our 10 Hour Virtual TEFL Course, which includes teaching practice. As well as a great addition to your CV, it gives you the confidence to be a successful EFL teacher. 

You can also volunteer as a teacher. This is a great way to see the world and gain experience. There are also internship programme that don’t require teaching experience. 

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