I am deeply convinced that the way an English lesson is conducted has a great impact not only on students’ motivation, but also on us as teachers! Read my 5 steps to a good English lesson and, let me inspire you!
1 . For an English lesson to be a really quality lesson, it should definitely be conducted in English. Speaking a lot of English during an English class is so valuable that it wouldn’t be good to ignore it or underestimate its great impact for our students’ achievements. I often hear from my individual students that English lessons in their schools are conducted in Polish from the very beginning untill the end. Of course, it frequently happens that there is a need for Polish explanation, help or feedback, but it should be additional and supplementary to our language lesson.
Why is speaking English in English classes is so extremely important? First, you may be the only English speaking person your student may have the chance to listen to. Secondly, without a sample of English, English lessons stop making sense. Children and teenagers who learn English without trying to speak tend to treat English lessons like a non-practical school subject and get frustrated.
2. Media. Personally I think that English lessons conducted without the use of media, especially internet resourses, is a huge mistake and a big loss. If foreign lanugages are about communication, the big amazing world around us and all the things connected to it (as I was writing about motivation for learning here), language lessons must be filled with authentic material, that is, real-life samples of language, pictures, sounds, and adventure.
If our lessons lack this very important part, we lose a useful tool used to inspire, visualise, show, motivate, and encourage students. Of course if you don’t have access to media, you manage a different way. But if you do have it, do not hesitate to use it every day in your teaching. It simply does the trick and helps students learn.
3. Like it and smile. I know, it may not sound like a big deal but it really works. If you like what you teach, everything you say starts to make more sense and is more appealing for your learners. Your words seem to be better heard. I know one thing for sure – when I come to work in a bad mood, it doesn’t help at all. When I realise it, I remind myself to feel the lesson, be professional, and it always works.
So if you have any discipline problems in your classroom, or you feel like you’ve had enough, start to like it again. Because your liking it makes your English lessons much more effective, but also much more pleasant for you and your pupils. It will also help you to avoid burning out as a teacher.
4. Speaking time. Speaking activities during an English lesson are something I would say is essential. I hardly ever conduct a lesson without a speaking exercise. Whatever topic or material you’re covering, remember to supplement it with conversation time.
For beginners, choose an easy task such as reading dialogues, drilling useful phrases, choosing the right reactions and asking students to read them aloud as a conversation. For more advanced learners, prepare a list of questions connected to the topic being discussed, give them role plays to act out, organise group work involving talking. (I am going to write a separate text about how to conduct good conversation classes soon).
5. Remember that you are responsible for a teaching process not a textbook or its author. Feel free to change things, modify and improve them.
As teachers we work with different educational materials, textbooks, teacher’s resources packs and the like. It sometimes happens that your chosen textbook doesn’t cover the material the way you need it to, or covers the material only partially. I sometimes skip a lesson and instead I do something different when I feel the need for it. You are the teacher, remember that. And you are the person who should make the decisions about what tasks to do, what tasks to skip, and what tasks should be supplemented.
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