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8 Benefits of Games in TEFL

Language learning is not easy. It takes time and effort. Games can sustain students’ interest and work so they ought to be at the heart of teaching the foreign language. Perhaps they are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson, but they should be used at all stages of the lesson, provided that they are suitable and carefully chosen.

There are many benefits of using games in EFL classes. These are seven of them

  1. Games break the usual routine of the language class as they are fun, and children like to play them.
  2. Games motivate and challenge learners as they add variation to a lesson and increase motivation by providing a plausible incentive to use the target language.
  3. Games provide language practice in the various skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading as they create a meaningful context for language use. They also encourage creative and spontaneous use of the language
  4. Games make the foreign language immediately useful to the children as they bring it to life and make the reasons for speaking even to reluctant children.
  5. Games encourage students to interact and communicate with their environment. Through games children experiment, discover, and learn English the way children learn their mother tongue without being aware they are studying; thus, without stress, so they can learn a lot.
  6. Games make classroom students-centered as in the game context, teacher acts only as facilitator while whole class participate and involve in healthy competition. Even shy students can participate positively.
  7. Games reinforce and review language items as they help learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way.
  8. Games can focus on grammar communicatively and promote using language structures in real-life situations.

Even if games resulted in noise, they are still worth paying attention to and implementing in the EFL classes since they motivate learners, promote communicative competence, and generate fluency.


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Top 10 Tips for Teaching a Great EFL Lesson

If you want to make a success and teach a great English language lesson, you should consider the following before stepping into the classroom:

  1. Be aware of the aims of teaching English language in the country where you are working and in the educational stage you are working in.
  2. Read the learning outcomes of the whole unit to which the lesson you are teaching belongs.
  3. Read the lesson from student’s book and write the answers of the exercises on both student’s book and workbook.
  4. Get a look at the teacher’s guide to know the guidelines for teaching the lesson.
  5. Be aware of the behavioral objectives that students should be able to achieve at the end of the lesson.
  6. Prepare in writing what steps you will follow and what you will do exactly in teaching the lesson.
  7. Prepare at least one teaching aid (e.g. word & picture cards) to facilitate learning, activate students and attract their attention.
  8. Prepare the the audio files and listen to them beforehand and check the pronunciation of each word in the lesson.
  9. Be aware of the specifications of the exams and prepare related questions to train students.
  10.  Have an assessment sheet to assess students during the lesson.

What else should the teacher do before going ahead to the classroom to teach a lesson? Waiting for more suggestions from you.

 


If you are interested in how to teach reading comprehension and want practical tips to do so in the classroom, you can buy my latest eBook: Teaching Reading Comprehension to ESL/EFL Learners: A Practical Classroom Guide With Sample Reading Lesson Plans.

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How to Deal with Low-Achiever Students and Help Them

Who is the low-achiever student?

If the student doesn’t or achieves to a low extent the required objectives at the end of the lesson, unit or course, it is important to recognize and identify him/her as a low achiever. In this case, a remedial plan should be designed to allow him/her to learn the required knowledge and skills to achieve the established objectives.

Why are some students low achievers?

Some students are low achievers due to different and various reasons. Some of them are as follows:

1. Perhaps the content is too difficult or the students must learn a large amount of it in a short time.

2. Maybe there was no time for practice, revision or recycling the previous content.

3. The students may use wrong or poor learning strategies or study habits when learning or studying their lessons.

4. The students may suffer from stress, depression, physical illness or learning disability.

5. The attitude of the students towards education may be negative. They may lack motivation to learn and study.

6. The reasons may relate to the teachers and teaching. Teachers may be unclear concerning to the objectives their students should achieve. Teachers may use poor or inappropriate teaching or assessment techniques. Feedback and assistance that must be provided to low achievers may be totally absent or provided too late.

How can you assist low achievers and improve their learning skills?

1. First of all, know well who low-achiever learners are. They are learners who usually:

* lack basic knowledge or skills.

* have difficulty in comprehension.

* lack concentration.

* confuse easily in the classroom.

2. Change your attitudes towards them.

3. Give them clear, step by step instructions.

4. Be ready to give them extra help or explanation.

5. Motivate them all the time using all possible ways.

6. Be aware of their learning or studying habits and try to improve them.

7. Know their leaning styles and adapt your teaching to them.

8. Set the objectives that  students should achieve at the end of learning sessions and prepare how to assess their achievement. Objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and timed) and be informed to the students orally at the beginning of each learning session.

9. Diagnose the difficulties as soon as possible or anticipate them and prepare how to deal with and react to them.

10. Observe the students and provide them with immediate feedback concerning to their points of weakness.

11. Prepare some procedures that students should follow or design and implement a remedial plan to remedy your students’ points of weakness.

12. Consult and get advice as early as possible from your colleagues, supervisor, psychological and social specialist regarding to learning issues of your students.

What to do if unable to prevent failure or remedy low achievement?

1. Never give a passing mark to the learner who doesn’t deserve it.

2. Make professional and fair judgments about your students’ performance.

3. Document your judgments and let the school principal and parents be aware of them.

4. Don’t feel “bad”. Failure in a course can be a signal for students to re-consider their choices of the kind of learning or specialization or at least it will mean that, unless they work hard, they won’t pass.

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16 Tips to Become the Best EFL Teacher

1. Learn your students’ names.

You will be able to control your class better and gain more respect if you learn the students’ names early on. If you are one who has a poor memory for names, ask each student to bring a photo of his own and write his name below it. Your students will be impressed when you call them with their names.

2. Establish authority from the beginning.

Establish a system for communication in the classroom from the first day. Deal quickly with inappropriate conduct in a friendly yet firm manner.

3. Be overly prepared.

You must be well mentally prepared for each lesson. You should know the sequences of activities and how long each activity will take. You should also have an additional activity prepared in case you have extra time.

4. Always consider the learners’ needs when preparing for each lesson.

Why are your students studying English? How will they use English in the future? What do they need to learn? The answer of these questions helps you specify what and how to teach and what to focus on.

5. Be prepared to make changes to your lesson plan.

If the lesson you have prepared isn’t working, don’t be afraid to modify it. Be sensitive to the students and the conditions around.

6. Find out what learners already know.

This is an ongoing process. Students may have already been taught a particular grammar point or vocabulary. Base your lesson on their prior knowledge and provide them with additional information that they don’t know.

7. Be knowledgeable about grammar.

You don’t have to be a linguist to teach EFL. Most of what you need to know can be learned from reading the students’ books. Often the rules and explanations about structure in the students’ books are much more accessible and realistic than in other books

8. Be knowledgeable about the learners’ culture.

The learners’ culture can be a valuable tool for teaching. Knowing it will raise your ability to communicate effectively with your students.

9. Don’t stick literally to the set book.

Add any extra necessary vocabulary, functions, grammar, or topics that you feel the students may want or need.

10. Don’t assume that the set book will always work.

Many activities must be modified to make them work, and some have to be changed completely to cope with the educational setting.

11. Teach vocabulary effectively.

The building blocks of language are not grammar and functions. The most essential thing students need to learn is vocabulary; without vocabulary you have no words to form sentences, no words to pronounce. Help your students to use the stock of vocabulary in their minds and learn more.

12. Proceed from more controlled activities to less controlled ones.

Not always, but in general, present and practice more structured activities before freer or more open ones.

13. Don’t neglect the teaching of listening.

Listening is the most important skill to teach your students. While listening to each other and to the teacher will improve students’ 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 audios and videos. Videos are much more motivating and culturally loaded.

14. Turn regular activities into games or competition.

Many familiar teaching points can be turned into games or activities with a competitive angle. It is a sure way to motivate students and activate them to work on the language.

15. Motivate your students with variety of activities.

By giving a variety of interesting topics and activities, students will be more motivated and interested, and they are likely to practice more.

16. 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. Each task should be introduced so well that students know what to do exactly.


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It tackles the following main ideas:

  • What is reading?
  • The main approaches to teaching beginning reading.
  • The stages of teaching beginning reading.
  • Sample activities for beginning reading.
  • Some important guidelines for EFL teachers to follow before beginning to teach reading in English.

I offer this step-by-step eBook guide not only for ESL/EFL teachers but also for parents to help them get their children to read in English easily and in a short time.

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The 18 Tips to Become a More Effective English Language Teacher

How to be an effective English language teacher? Keep the following pieces of advice in your mind to realize your desire.

1. Be enthusiastic! Don’t do it just for the money.

Students appreciate the teacher who shows genuine interest in teaching. Teachers who are not, they should consider moving on to another profession.

2. Show interest in students as individuals.

Treat students as individuals, not subjects. Don’t belittle them; listen and talk to them. Only in this way will true communication take place.

3. Allow time for free communication.

For speaking this would mean allowing time for free conversation, for writing; doing free writing, for reading; allowing time for extensive pleasure reading, and for listening; listening for entertainment sake.

4. Use humor to activate the class.

Make it a habit to get students to laugh at least once per lesson.

5. Circulate.

Move around the classroom. Sit with groups and monitor, Take part in the communication. Walk about, listen and observe.

6. Make your instructions short and clear.

Demonstrate rather than explain whenever possible.

7. Speak up, but don’t break anyone’s eardrum.

You should be heard and comprehended without annoying students.

8. Don’t talk too much.

Depending on the subject, you should be talking from about 5% to 30% of the lesson. Most lessons should be student-centered, not teacher-centered.

9. Don’t talk too slow.

How do you expect your students to understand real English if you don’t speak at a fairly natural speed? Oversimplified and affected speech will hurt your students in the long run.

10. Be sensitive to your students.

Watch their faces and reactions. Do they understand you? Are they interested or bored? Try to be aware of what is going on in your classroom at all times. If you are starting class and one student is still talking, try to gently get him/her to stop. If you are sitting with a group of students on one side of the room, try to be attentive to what is happening in other groups as well. There may be a group across the room that is confused and doesn’t know what to do.

11. Respect both “slow” and “fast” learners.

Language learning is not about intelligence; the important thing to stress is that the students are improving.

12. Don’t lose your cool.

If you do, you will lose respect. Even if you have to leave the classroom, do it in a controlled manner, explaining to the class or students why you are unhappy with them.

13. Be frank.

Praise your students when they are getting better and encourage them when they are not doing as well as they can.

14. Be a coach.

Some times you must be a coach more than a teacher. Push students to reach their potential. Create a safe environment in which they see themselves more clearly and try your best to develop their specific skills.

15. Be fair and realistic in testing.

Teach first and then test; don’t test things that haven’t been taught. Also, remember that the main purpose of language is communication.

16. Don’t over-correct.

If you think a student can correct their own mistake, don’t supply the correction for them, rather allow for some self-monitoring. Remember, some mistakes can be kept uncorrected if you are for fluency.

17. Be reflective.

Think about your own teaching. After finishing each lesson, take some time to reflect. Was the lesson effective? What were the good and bad points? How could it be improved?

18. Keep in shape.

Renew and update your knowledge about teaching from time to another. Look at new course books and teacher training books to get new ideas. Share your ideas with colleagues. Go to conferences.


If you are interested in how to teach reading comprehension and want practical tips to do so in the classroom, you can buy my latest eBook: Teaching Reading Comprehension to ESL/EFL Learners: A Practical Classroom Guide With Sample Reading Lesson Plans.

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You can also get my eBook “Teaching Beginning Reading to ESL/EFL Learners” now for the lowest price for a limited time.

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Three New Printables Published

Now, three new ELT printables are available on elttguide.com

  • When and How to Correct Students’ Mistakes.

  • 20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Printing Your Language Test.

  • Teaching Letter Writing – A Lesson Plan.

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Free ELT Printables Library

Now, some useful ELT printables are available on elttguide.com

  • Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to ELT.

  • ELT Challenges & Solutions.

  • Email Writing Lesson Plan.

  • How to Write an EFL Lesson Plan.

  • Teaching New Vocabulary.

  • Teaching the Reader – A Lesson Plan.

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Here Are My Solid Gold Ten Tips for Teaching EFL Effectively

1. Be patient:

It is not easy to learn a new language. It takes time and the leaning process has many ups and downs. Your students may have difficulties and get frustrated, so you should be patient.

2. Use your body:

Move around the classroom and interact with your students. Have an open face. Smile. A smile shows you are happy to be there. Use gestures with your arms and hands instead of speaking. Contact your students with your eyes.

3. Adjust your voice:

Take care of your voice. It is not necessary to speak loudly all the time. Use a variety of tone and volume. Avoid shouting, otherwise you will lose your voice.

4. Know your subject matter and enjoy teaching it:

Get a look at the teaching course, textbook and the learning materials. Search for more knowledge related to the course. Read books, journals, articles, etc. for on-going professional development. All the time try to enjoy what you do. If you enjoy learning and teaching, your students will likely enjoy. Do your best to leave your personal problems at home and enter the classroom with fresh and clear mind.

5. Use variety in your lesson:

Variety is the spice of life. If you do one thing one way, students will feel bored. Use variety in everything, in the way you start the class, in your ways of assessment and even in what you are dressing.

6. Be a model in pronunciation:

As you are supposed to be a non-native speaker of English, you should listen to the pronunciation of new words before pronouncing them in front of your students. However, try your best to speak to your students as if you are a native speaker. Be aware of phonemic system of English to be a good model for your students in speaking good English.

7. Have good lesson plans:

Don’t step toward the classroom without a lesson plan. Take your time to plan your lessons. It’s preferable to have a detailed plan in the beginning. You may use a general outline after that or just a few notes. Do what works for you but the most important thing is to know well what you are going to do inside the classroom.

8. Use teaching aids:

Use the board and organize it well. Use drawings on the board. Create good visual aids such as: wall sheets, charts, diagrams, etc. Use audio files, pictures and word cards. Use your body and face and any other aids that can facilitate learning, attract students’ attention and address different learning styles of your students.

9. Engage your students all the time:

Encourage students to participate during the class. Call them with their names. Use games and music to motivate them to engage in the lesson. Use the element of surprise to keep them on their toes. Use appropriate materials that are suitable for their level and interest them. Encourage interactions among them. Don’t lecture or they will fall asleep. All the time think of something unusual to do in the classroom to draw your students’ attention and engage them in the lesson.

10. Control your class:

Have an orderly classroom putting everything in its place. Create certain system or procedures to follow with the class to organize and control the students. Respect your students and get them to respect you. If you have a student who is being disruptive, talk to him first outside the classroom and if he continues to be disruptive, let the law take its course. Consider agreeing with students upon some rules to follow from the beginning of the year. Rearrange the seating in the way that enables you to control the class or do certain activities easily.


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The Eight Tips That Will Help Students Do Homework Without Stress

Teachers usually evaluate their students with homework as it indicates to the effect of their effort in class, but some students get stressed when it’s time to doing homework.

  • Diagnose the problem:

Examine why your students can’t do their homework. Do they just ignore it for no reason or there is a certain problem with them or with the homework itself. Be aware of the problem and then try to deal with it as quickly as possible.

  • Reassure your students:

If your students feel fear or angry or has any difficulty with homework, it is necessary to start helping them overcome any negative feelings and solve related problems. Try your best to reassure them telling “it is normal to feel that, but with practicing you will do better”. Then, you should think of rewarding those who have done homework with success, as it will increase their self-confidence and link doing homework with pleasing feelings within them.

  • Simplify the task:

Help your students by simplifying what they should do. You can also simplify the lesson by using programs or videos from the Internet to help them understand the difficult points.

Moreover, you should talk with your students using the following eight tips to help them do their homework without stress.

1. Understand well what exactly you should do:

You may struggle with doing your homework because you didn’t understand what you should do, so first you should write down what exactly you should do on your notebook, and don’t feel afraid of asking your teacher to explain what your assignment is .

2. Start as soon as you can:

Even it is called (homework) it doesn’t mean that you should wait till you go back home to do it, but you can do it in any free time you have, may be in school, and remember by this method you will have much time at night and you will never feel stressed .

3. Make a homework plan

Write down the assignments you should do every day and determine certain time for each assignment, and adhere to time you dedicate for each one.

4. Choose a suitable place

It is very important to choose suitable place for doing your homework away from any noise that may interrupt you so that you will focus and complete your homework in less time.

5. Choose the best time for doing homework during the day:

Doing homework should not be after the school directly as some prefer, but you should have some time of rest after the school and before performing your homework. After getting back from school, have your lunch and take a short nap, then start doing your homework with a fresh mind.

6. Ask for help:

You may struggle with some issues when doing your homework. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from one of your classmates or your family, or you may need to hire a tutor.

7. Follow good techniques:

To do your homework easier, follow good techniques that should begin in your classroom such as listening to your teacher while explaining the lesson and taking notes to remember what the teacher said. It is very important to write your notes with clear font and keep them organized. These things will make doing homework easier for you.

8. Take a break:

The maximum time everyone can concentrate continuously is 45 minutes, so try to take a short break after each 45 minutes to be active and alert during doing your next homework assignment.

  • Warning For Parents:

Don’t solve your child’s homework without his/her own contribution. The rule is “children must do their homework by themselves” even if they struggle or do some mistakes. They will do better by more and more practice, but if you did the homework for your child without the least of his/her contribution, he/she would miss important opportunity to study and learn.


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ESL vs. EFL in Learning and Teaching

There’s a difference when learning & teaching English as a second language (ESL), and learning & teaching English as a foreign language (EFL).

Learning ESL versus learning EFL:

In learning ESL, the learner is learning English within an English environment. In this case, English is spoken outside the classroom. The learner here learns English to understand and speak it outside the classroom. The situation is different in EFL learning, the learner learns English inside a classroom, but continues to speak her/his own language when leaving the classroom.

An example of an ESL situation is a Japanese boy who immigrates with his family to America; he speaks Japanese at home with his parents, but during the rest of the day and at school, he must speak English. He needs to learn enough English to be able to keep up with his schoolwork and communicate well with his schoolmates.

On the other hand, the Egyptian girl learning English in an Egyptian school learns English as a foreign language. She must understand and speak English only during her English lessons – perhaps 3 times a week. The rest of her day in school and at home, she will speak her own language. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t know much English or if she learns slowly; this will not affect her day-to-day life in and out of school as it would for the Japanese boy.

Teaching ESL versus teaching EFL:

Teaching ESL is different from teaching EFL. This difference influences the content and methods used to teach English language.

At ESL Schools, students learn:

* General English that helps them feel comfortable in school and communicate well with their new friends.

* Most importantly, they are also taught the kind of English language and skills that will help them to be successful in their other classes, history, mathematics etc. which are all in English. This is typical of most programs in ESL situations.

In many EFL classes on the other hand:

* English is often taught in a traditional way; i.e. based on step-by-step learning of a number of grammatical structures in a graded order of difficulty.

* As the learner has to master the language in his class and has no chances to practice English outside his class, the methods and techniques chosen should allow him/her to use the language both fluently and accurately. These techniques should ensure maximum exposure to the language

ESL teacher versus EFL teacher:

The difference mentioned above between teaching (ESL) and (EFL) requires the teacher to approach English classes differently.

* In ESL setting, the teacher should focus on personal reasons to learn English. Whether students want to learn English to communicate with a variety of people from other countries or they want to learn the language for professional reasons, perhaps to get a better job. The teacher, then, can choose the suitable approach to teach the language according to each reason.

* By contrast, many of EFL students lack the opportunity to experience English in their daily lives. They may be required to study English for a test or because it is a compulsory part of the curriculum. In addition, EFL settings often involve large classes and limited contact hours, which makes learning English a challenge for students.  And although they may want to learn English for the same reasons as those of ESL students, their motivation level can be low since English is not part of their daily lives and the English course simply does not offer enough exposure to the language. Consequently, the EFL teacher should try his/her best to overcome these challenges and expose students to as much authentic English as possible. In addition, he/she should create real-life situations for students to practice the items of English.

Selecting ESL classroom activities:

Information gap activities are ideal in ESL classroom as the students come from different countries. Some students have information that others miss. Information gap activities can be a variety of question-and-answer and discussion activities about the students’ countries. They can also do presentations to teach classmates about their culture. Students are often quite eager to participate in such presentations. In fluency practice activities, the teacher can rest assured that the students will not resort to their native language because they speak to students who do not understand their language. Task-based problem-solving activities are also useful in this case because they engage the learners linguistically and cognitively and require them to negotiate a solution entirely in English. This classroom scenario also gives the teacher an opportunity to sometimes focus more intensively on accuracy in speaking because many of the students have good opportunities for English fluency practice outside of the class.

Selecting EFL classroom activities:

In an EFL context, the teacher must deal with the fact that the students are probably not receiving any significant exposure to English outside of the classroom. Because of this lack of opportunity to speak English, teachers need to maximize fluency practice, getting the students to use the language as much as possible in class and reducing emphasis on accuracy. To achieve these goals, teachers need to select suitable speaking activities to ensure that students will use English. Activities that lack structure or which fail to generate student interest will lead most students to abandon English. Also, an activity that is interesting but too cognitively challenging to manage in English will cause most students to resort to their native language.

Criteria for selecting EFL classroom activities:

The best activities that encourage students in EFL classroom to produce English ought to:

  • have a clear, measurable and suitable objective.
  • achieve progress in English use.
  • easy to manage in English.
  • be interesting to the students.

EFL teachers should integrate fun with work by carefully designing activities to achieve the specified instructional objectives. This includes setting a time limit, clarifying the rules, sometimes giving prizes, and generating enthusiasm to play and use English in communicative situations.


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