Tips For Teachers

Tips for Teaching


While teaching English in China is one of the most exciting adventures you will ever go on, we can never lose sight of the fact that you're going there to do a job.

A very important job too, as being a teacher means being responsible for the education and development of your students.

This is why passing a TEFL course is so important. It gives you more than just a piece of paper that says you can teach. It gives you the theory, the knowledge, and the confidence to become a great teacher.

However, your TEFL course is just the beginning. Once you start teaching, you're going to have to take responsibility for your own lessons.

Here are some tips from us to help you get going.


Tips for ESL lesson planning

When teaching English in China, especially when starting out, your classes will live or die by the quality of your lesson plans. This is why making a highly detailed lesson plan is part of any good TEFL course.

The best ESL teachers bring a lot of variety to their classes, but many of their lesson plans retain the same structure.

Beginning with the presentation of the topic, grammar point or vocabulary, a typical lesson will then move on to controlled practice, before allowing the students to practice freely amongst themselves.

It's in facilitating these stages that requires the variety in the form of different activities. However, you can ever be quite sure which will work as expected, which will fall flat, and which will go too well. For this reason, you always need a Plan B.

Good ESL teachers will always have two kinds of back-up activities up their sleeve. The first is a back-up activity relevant to what is being taught, in case the students don't want to do your original idea.

The second is a collection of general time filling teaching games that can be brought out any time a  lesson plan is finished earlier than expected.


Tips for ESL games to use

When teaching ESL in China, games and activities are often used with students of all ages. Even classes of businessmen enjoy a game of topical Hangman to end the class with once in a while.

However, to keep things fresh, you're going to need more than that.

The best ESL games to play in the classroom are the ones that require minimal preparation. This usually means games that can be played using just the whiteboard.

Pictionary is an activity that students always enjoy. Splitting the class into two teams and starting the lesson with a round of Pictionary based on the previous day's vocabulary helps to reinforce what was learned, and making things competitive is a great way to raise the energy levels at the start of a session.

Another competitive game that can be played on the whiteboard is Sentence Reduction. Simply write a long sentence containing lots of details and adjectives that can be taken out to leave a shorter yet still grammatically correct sentence. Teams can then remove one, two, or three consecutive words per round and will score points based on how many they do.

Our final competitive game that can be played with minimal preparation will get students thinking of the most obscure English words they know.

List eight or ten topics, such as Cities, Animals, Food, and write one letter on the board. The students, in groups or alone, score points for the most unique answers they can think of for each topic beginning with the given letter.

When playing with T, Toronto is a common answer, so usually doesn't score. However, any student who knows and gives Timbuktu will most likely gain a point for a unique answer.


Tips for great ESL resources

Even the best ESL teachers need somewhere to turn for support and ideas sometimes.

Whatever ESL resource you're looking for, be it lesson planning, games and activities, or a community to join or lean on, a quick Google will bring up plenty of results.

Here's a few of our favourites to point you in the right direction.

Dave's ESL Cafe is perhaps the most comprehensive ESL resource anywhere online, and features a job board, lesson plans and ideas, a community forum, and more:

Busy Teacher has a huge library of worksheets and activities that can be downloaded, and also publishes regular high-quality blog articles to keep you inspired and informed on all things ESL:

Breaking News English is a goldmine for up-to-date conversational lesson plans based on the news and current affairs, be it headline news or more irreverent stories:

English Grammar could become your go-to place when teaching grammar to your students, with easy to follow explanations and worksheets for all the main grammar points:

If you need a list of good questions quickly for a conversational class with higher level students, The Internet TESL Journal has a huge database of them here:

For a varied source of learning materials and reports of current affairs in simple English, the BBC's Learning English site is a good place to go:

Finally, three useful sites that provide downloadable worksheets for students of all ages are Lanternfish, ESL Printables, and ESL Galaxy. They can be found at the following places:

For many people, teaching English in China means doing a job unlike anything they've ever done before in a land unlike anywhere they've ever been before.

However, help is always at hand.

Tips and advice for successful ESL teaching can be found in many places online.

And should there be anything you can't find an answer to, you can always contact us for help and advice.