Best Practices in Teaching English language learners
In fact, no matter what or who we teach, these are five essential teaching skills that will benefit the teacher and learners.
These skills are covered in depth during our TESOL Certificate course along with a host of other positive teaching practices. TESOL Trainers provides K-12 professional development on all of these topics.
5 Critical Teaching Skills
Skill #1: Giving Clear Instructions: As any teacher knows, giving effective directions is critical. Though this seems simple enough, just think of a time in your life when a teacher asked you to do something and left you more confused than enlightened. Now, consider the challenges of giving instructions to a group of students who don’t speak English as a native language.
- It provides students with a variety of ways to understand the instructions
- It supports lower level language learners
- It increases the sense of safety
- It gives students more quality time to practice the language.
TESOL Trainers offers PD on Giving Clear Instructions
Skill #2: Making sure students understand: Checking to see if students understand what is going on or what a list of vocabulary words mean also poses its challenges. Just think of how many times a teacher asked the class, ‘everyone understand?’ and, while no one did, no one asked for help.
- It creates a more student-centered classroom.
- It increases student opportunities to use the language.
- It helps the teacher see who’s getting what.
- It provides the teacher with a clear direction.
Skill #3: Breaking things down into manageable chunks: Making sure the lesson and the language are digestible enough for the students is the secret to happy, successful students. Just think of your childhood. When you walked behind an adult and tried to follow his footsteps, was it always easy?
- Students tend to take greater risks – success breeds success.
- Students feel more confident.
- Students demonstrate more competence.
- The teacher is able to assess students’ needs more effectively.
- The speed at which learning takes place increases.
TESOL Trainers offers PD on the Gradual Release of Responsibility.
Skill #4: Creating opportunities for interaction: Teachers can’t learn the language for the students; they need to do that themselves. That’s why opportunities are so important. Just think of a language class that you’ve been in. Did a teacher ever cover a ton of vocabulary but never give you time to practice?
- The class becomes more student-centered.
- Student engagement increases throughout the lesson.
- The sense of community increases.
- Students take more frequent risks.
TESOL Trainers PD: Engaging Students Effectively
Skill #5: Noticing what helps and hinders student learning: This teaching skill is perhaps the most crucial. Paying attention to what we do as teachers that helps or hinders student learning helps us grow as teachers. Ideally, we notice these things as the lesson unfolds and respond accordingly. In reality, this realization may arrive some time after the lesson ended or it may have never entered our consciousness.
The more we train this awareness, the more we tend to inform and transform our teaching practices. There is, perhaps, no such thing as a perfect teaching lesson; but every lesson is the perfect opportunity to learn. Ultimately, we find ourselves noticing this 'in the moment' and are able to respond to what the students' needs are.
Essential Teaching Skills
When we provide clear instructions, things go so much smoother. As we continuously check for understanding, we keep our students and ourselves on our toes. When we scaffold a lesson, we encourage risk taking. Giving students a ton of opportunities just makes sense. Finally, the more we pay attention to what supports or stifles learning, the more we learn about teaching.
For more on the essential teaching skills, visit our sister blog - Everything Teaching TESOL.
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John Kongsvik is the director of TESOL Trainers. He works around the world with educational institutions in providing TESOL training, SIOP professional development, and much more.