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10 Don’ts For EFL Teachers To Be Effective

1. Don’t assume (falsely) that the class textbook will work.

Some activities in EFL textbooks don’t work. These activities must be modified to make them work, or scrapped completely.

2. Don’t neglect useful vocabulary teaching.

The building blocks of language are not grammar or functions. The most essential thing students need to learn is vocabulary; without vocabulary, you have no words to form syntax, no words to pronounce. Help your students to become vocabulary hungry.

3. Don’t neglect the teaching of listening.

Many ESL experts think that listening is the most important skill that students need to develop. While listening to each other and to the teacher, students will improve their overall listening ability. This can be no substitute for listening to authentic English. As much as possible, try to expose your students to authentic English in a variety of situations. The best way to do this and the most realistic is through videos. Listening to audio cassettes in the classroom can improve listening ability, but videos are much more motivating and culturally loaded.

4. Don’t neglect the teaching of culture.

Language and culture are inseparable. If culture isn’t a part of your lessons, then you aren’t really teaching language, you are teaching about language.

5. Don’t teach phonetics out of context.

Only teach the most important aspects of pronunciation, not those aspects that cannot be applied to real communication. Teach pronunciation in context if it is necessary. For example, if you are teaching a section on health, teach syllable stress with sickness words: fever, headache, backache, earache, constipation, etc.

6. Don’t leave the learners in the dark.

Explain exactly what they are expected to learn in a particular lesson. Make sure that students know what they are doing and why. The lessons should be transparent to the students, with a clear organization.

7. Don’t do it just for the money.

Students appreciate those teachers who show genuine interest in teaching. Teachers who are interested in continuous professional development do best and consider moving on to another profession.

8. Don’t talk too much.

Depending on the subject, you should be talking from about 5% to 30% of the lesson. For speaking or writing, more than 10-15% would probably be too much. Most lessons should be student-centred, not teacher-centred.

9. Don’t lose your cool.

If you lose your cool, you will lose hard-won respect. Even if you have to go so far as to leave the classroom, do it in a controlled manner, explaining to the class or students why you are unhappy with them.

10. Don’t overcorrect.

For example, when correcting a narrative composition at a low-intermediate level, it doesn’t make much sense to correct mistakes with relative clauses. Likewise, if your class is practising simple past tense, don’t correct article usage at the same time. If you think students can correct their own mistakes, don’t supply the correction for them, rather allow for some self-monitoring.

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