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Ten Things Make Some EFL Teachers More Effective Than Others

There are many EFL teachers around the world but not many of them are effective. Effective EFL teachers are defined as those who have a clear impact on their students. Effective EFL teachers do not only make their students love and learn English easily and quickly but their students are found always looking forward to the English lessons and transferring what they have learned inside the classroom to the outer world. You do not need to have a professional certificate to be an effective EFL teacher, but it’s a matter of loving your profession and accumulating experience that will help you do certain things that always make you an EFL effective teacher. Here are ten of these things that you should consider if you want to join EFL effective teachers.

1. Well-mentally prepared:
Effective teachers always know the course materials and the outcomes of each unit very well in advance. They usually design a curriculum map for the whole course and get an overview of the new vocabulary and structures included in each unit. Moreover, they have a well-written plan for each lesson based on “Teacher’s Guide if available. They include the main six things in their lesson plan. As a result, when they enter the classroom for teaching, they become really well-mentally prepared.

2. Setting SMART objectives:
Setting SMART objectives is one of the main six things effective teachers include in their preparation notes. S stands for specific , M for measurable, A for achievable, R for realistic and T for time-bound. They do not only set right and clear objectives but they always put these objectives in their mind while teaching and try their best to achieve them at the end of the lesson.

3. Using teaching aids:
Effective teachers know well that using teaching aids in the classroom can facilitate students’ learning and attract their attention so they never enter the classroom without one teaching aid at least. Moreover, they use different and various teaching aids to address different students’ learning styles. They use pictures, flashcards, drawings, audio files, word maps, charts, diagrams, wall sheets and any other aids that can save effort and time, and make the lesson more interesting, and encourage more language practice.

4. Managing the classroom well:
Without classroom management, teachers won’t be able to deliver the message or achieve the learning objectives. So, effective teachers always follow certain system to manage their classes. Their students usually do what they want them to do. The atmosphere in the classroom is friendly and comfortable so students always respond positively to their teachers. Even if there are some discipline problems or misbehavior, effective teachers deal with them immediately and treat the source not the symptoms of these problems. As a result, noise heard from effective teachers’ classrooms is one described as “Healthy Noise”, as students’ learning occurs all the time of the lesson.

5. Having a good command of the language:
Effective teachers speak English fluently and they use English as much as possible in the class, even if they give instructions, or even if their students don’t know the meaning of some words. They can know the meaning by many means such as miming or pointing. Moreover, effective teachers try their best to pronounce vocabulary and structures as native speakers do. They do so with the help of talking dictionaries which they always use to check the pronunciation of any item they don’t know before. A good command of the language also includes continuing professional development and being aware of the latest trends of learning and teaching EFL.

6. Using different kinds of class organization:
Effective teachers don’t depend on only one kind of class organization such as whole class, pairs, groups or individuals. They use all these kinds of class organization in the classroom. They base the use of each kind on the learning objectives,  the kind of activity, and the time dedicated to it.

7. Creating real-life situations for students to use the new language:
Learning a language means mainly using and talking it not just talking about it or its grammatical items. Effective teachers know this fact well and know also that the language is a means not an end, so they present the key language structures and expressions, and then create realistic situations in the classroom where students are encouraged to practice and use the new language learned before. Effective teachers always endeavor to improve their students’ communication skills applying communicative approach principles.

8. Increasing students’ talk time as much as possible:
It’s students who should learn not teachers, so students should always talk and express themselves saying, repeating, practicing and producing the language. Effective teachers create as many opportunities as possible for students to talk and communicate with the teacher or with their friends inside or outside the classroom.

9. Assessing students’ learning of the lesson frequently:
Classroom assessment is very important to show to what extent the learning objectives were achieved. It doesn’t matter whether it is formative or summative assessment but the most important thing is that it should continue along the course and take as various forms as possible. So, effective teachers always ask their students oral questions, assign them some exercises to do at home and check them after done, give them regular quizzes, conduct periodical written tests, ask them to cooperate in doing a project, and other more assessment techniques they usually follow. Moreover, sometimes, they design some  more creative ones to assess their students’ learning. Immediately after each kind of assessment, effective teachers give their students the suitable feedback and make them feel a sense of progress or achievement in their journey of learning.

10. Wrapping up the lesson at the end:
It’s the question: “What have we learnt today?” with which effective teachers end their lesson every day, eliciting the main points tackled in the lesson from students. By answering this question, students will be more aware of the objectives of the lesson and assess themselves whether they achieve these objectives or not. After wrapping up the current lesson, effective teachers may give students a general idea about the next lesson to make the required link between the previous and the following learning.

These are the ten things winch – as I think – make some EFL teachers more effective than others. Let me know what you think of them, and what else you think a teacher should do to join EFL effective teachers. Don’t hesitate to comment and give me your feedback.


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Ten Tips for Effective Use of the Board in Teaching EFL

As a teacher of EFL, your board is a memory tool for things you want your students to remember. It is also a helpful tool to keep you on track with the lesson. What should your board look like? In what way can you organize it? How can you get the best use of it? In this article we are going to give you some tips to consider when using the board or while writing on it.

1. Stand right:

While writing on the board, stand sideways without hiding what you are writing and keep eye contact with your students.

2. Prepare your text:

Prepare beforehand what you are going to write on the board. You can imagine an A4 paper as your board and write on it your text in advance, and then copy this prepared text to the classroom board.  Be focused and write as quickly as you can.

3. Keep it neat:

Try your best to make your writing look neat and clear. You can walk to the back of the classroom and check how your board looks like. Your writing should be big and straight enough. If you think something is not clear enough, do rub it out and write it again.

4. Keep students’ attention:

While writing, keep your students’ attention by reading the key words and phrases aloud. You can also pause for a while and ask a student to read what you have written.

5. Give clear instructions:

Tell students exactly what you want them to copy and at which time you want them to finish copying. After you finish, stand back and let them complete copying. When time finished, say “Stop copying. You can continue copying when I finish explaining”.

6. Organize your board:

Divide the board into three sections: the left one for key vocabulary and phrases, the right one for questions or home assignment, and the center for main structures or language focus. Try to leave a space under each section for temporary items that you can rub out as you go along the lesson.

7. Make important features noticeable:

important features are the points which you want your students to distinguish and remember such as auxiliary verbs, irregular endings, pronouns, contracted forms, … etc. You can do so by underlining them, using different colored pens/chalk, circling them or even making them italic.

8. Use tables for prompting:

Build these tables with students, then use them for controlled practice that are aimed at achieving accuracy such as substitution and transformation drills.

9. Use diagrams, mind/word maps and time lines:

You can use these aids on the board to clarify time, space, quantity or to increase the stock of vocabulary.

10. Stick items on the board:

You can use the surface of the board to display all sorts of items such as posters, flashcards, pictures, … etc. and have students to come out to the board for oral work pointing to or talking about these items.

Six Back-to-School Ideas for the First EFL Class.

Back to school. Finally! In Egypt. The first day of school is a special day for students and teachers. It is a day full of emotions. Teachers get anxious about how to start their first lesson and students feel nervous about how their teachers are like. I agree that first impression counts, so it’s necessary for each teacher to plan for a successful first lesson that will set a good tone for the rest of the lessons of the course along the school year. Here are some useful back-to-school ideas for the first EFL class.

1. Get to know your students and let them get to know you:

First, introduce yourself to your students telling them what subject you are going to teach. Give them some detailed information about yourself such as your likes and dislikes, your hobbies, your favorite football team, … etc. and then get to know your students asking them questions to find out a little more about them.

2. Do some activities to break the ice with your students: 

Plan for some warm-up activities to create a friendly and comfortable atmosphere in the classroom. Make it fun and always encourage students to communicate (in English if possible) with you and others comfortably. Remember, some students may feel shy on the first day; it’s probably the first time they’re meeting you and their classmates. A good way to help students overcome their shyness and lighten up the mood is to use icebreakers.

3. Go through the textbook with them:

Talk about what they are going to learn, and the specific skills covered in each unit. Tell them what they will be able do at the end of the course and how it is very interesting. Focus on the fun they will feel if they engage in the lessons.

4. Set the tone for all future classes:

Your first lesson is the perfect time to set your rules and expectations. Go over what you want out of your students, but also tell them what you plan to do for them if they stick to the rules. You can write the rules onto a piece of poster board to be shown clearly for all students every day.

6. Talk about possible disruptive behaviors and their consequences (For Adults):

You can mention some classic examples of disruptive behaviors such as:

  • Insults or put downs,
  • Bullying,
  • No respect for other students and their personal belongings,
  • No respect for the teacher,
  • Unwillingness to participate in the activities,
  • Not following the rules agreed upon beforehand,
  • Cheating,
  • Not completing tasks, assignments, homework,
  • Untidiness and littering, …etc.

And then, talk about what happens if a student do one of the previous behaviors. It is recommended that you tell them a system of punishments and rewards as well. You may choose to give them a warning first; the second time, they lose a privilege, like going outside to play; the third time, a call is made to his or her parents.

5. Get an idea of your students’ skill levels.

Plan activities that test the four basic English skills: listening, speaking, writing and reading. You can make a short quiz to know brilliant students and low achievers.

6. Let your students have a way to reach you.

Tell your students that you are in the school to help them and they can come to you for any problem they encounter in the course. Be precise and tell them exactly where and when they can come to meet you in the school. You can also give them your WhatsApp number to connect with you at any time.

Have a Great First Lesson!
Having a great first lesson sets a great tone for future lessons and makes students look forward to your classes. All you need is a good attitude and a few activities prepared beforehand. Treat your first lesson as a meet-and-greet rather than a classroom lecture and be sure to have fun! Start your first class in a fun way. That’s ALL.

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Ten Things Students Expect From EFL Teachers in the Classroom

When students enroll on an EFL course or enter an EFL class, they always have their list of wants and needs. When they feel these things aren’t right and their expectations aren’t addressed, they start complaining or stop attending the course. So EFL teachers should take the following things into consideration:

1. Determining students’ levels of English.

Students come to your class with different objectives, needs and levels in English. So, you need first to start with doing something to identify each learner’s level. You can conduct a placement test to know that. Classify your class into groups according to the level of each one and adjust your activities accordingly.

2. Giving students the chance to feel they make progress.

Students need to feel a sense of progress and achievement. You can do so by telling students with the objectives of each activity they do in the classroom. Then give some quizzes to measure their progress giving them immediate feedback.

3. Encouraging students and inspiring them.

Students need encouragement to keep going in their journey of learning. Encouragement for students is like the fuel for the car. Praise any little progress and provide support all the time. Plan not only to teach students but to make difference in their life. Always instil positive attitudes in them toward English learning and creativity in using it. Make them convinced that content they are being taught is meaningful and useful for their progress in life.

4. Creating interesting experiences.

When you plan your lesson, you should put in your mind that today’s students are different. They have control on their choices and spend their time differently so if you want your students to learn, learning experiences should be planned to be interesting and motivating. They should be inspiring, engaging, exciting and empowering them.

5. Providing useful learning materials.

Learning materials can support student learning and increase their success. Learning materials should be tailored to the content in which they’re being used and to the students they are using. The availability of these materials is very important. The Internet has many resources for teachers, most of them free, that can help them make their own materials. And then teachers should upload them to all students to be available at any time everywhere.

6. Covering the four main language skills.

Language skills relate to different aspects of using language such as listening, reading, writing or speaking. Skills are our ability to do these things. They are usually divided into two types: receptive and productive. Receptive skills are those used in understanding, reading or listening. Productive skills involve producing language, speaking or writing. It is important to consider the four skills when designing language learning materials. This helps to identify the objectives of each activity or lesson. It is generally accepted that receptive skills should come before productive skills, however, it is important to remember that communication is interactive and requires the use of all skills most of the time. Learning materials based on covering all skills are realistic considering the real use of language everyday.

7. Keeping good relationship with students.

Students come to the EFL classroom expecting that they will enjoy friendly and intimate atmosphere. Comfortable learning environment is very important for students to learn and memorize what they get. Teachers should start their classes with a big smile asking students about how they are and call each student with his/her name. when the teacher starts questioning, he/she should avoid threatening or embarrassing any student. The teacher should be just a facilitator or a guide to students not a boss.

8. Being aware of native speakers’ culture.

Foreign language is more than knowledge of some theoretical aspects like vocabulary of grammatical items. When communication matters, Fluency becomes more important than accuracy, ideas and opinions more exciting than grammar and vocabulary. EFL teachers in the classroom should combine linguistic competence with cultural awareness. It is the knowledge of communicating beyond words. By understanding, appreciating the other’s values, customs and beliefs and the awareness of the different cultures among and around us, students will be able to absorb the foreign communicative language more easily and consider how it is different from their native language.

9. Providing immediate correction and feedback.

For students to feel a sense of achievement, they should receive immediate correction and feedback for their spoken or written answers. Such feedback can help students learn more efficiently; and if used correctly, feedback can function as a very powerful tool to motivate students to learn.

10. Being fair and flexible.

Even life is not fair, but students expect classroom should be so. To be fair means being clear, helpful and caring for all students all the time. In addition, you should be flexible with your students. you should have the ability to change to suit the different situations. Your adaptation to new and different circumstances is the key factor that leads to success in your career of teaching EFL.

Seven Tips to Speak English Fluently

You may have been studying English for many years but still feel that English is stuck in your mouth and you can’t express yourself freely to people. When it comes to talk, you may realize that your English is frozen and you don’t remember any word. You may think that your English level isn’t enough to speak fluently and you need more practice to increase your level from intermediate to advanced one.

Feeling stuck is frustrating and discouraging. Sometimes, you might lose confidence and give up. The good news is you can fix this problem. Here are some tips you can use to begin to move forward and avoid feeling stuck in your English.

1. Make English a part of your everyday life:

Practice English regularly, just for 10 or 15 minutes daily. Do something in English every day. For example, listen to different English podcasts every morning, read something in English before you go to sleep, watch something in English in your free time.

2. Read out loud and record yourself talking in English:

Read aloud to practice the pronunciation. You can also record yourself talking about what you understood. Record yourself talking in English and then you can see what you need to improve if it is grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation.

3. Engage in a conversational class:

Enroll in a class of English conversations to learn how to express yourself in each real-life situation. In this course you can learn new vocabulary and grammar and how to use them in conversations. Moreover, you will practice speaking and listening.

4. Watch series or movies in English without subtitles:

That way you will sharpen your listening skills plus you will get the real language that native speakers speak. In this case, there is a great chance to remember the spoken language because of your high concentration and desire to know what they are talking about in the movie.

5. Listen to music lyrics with their scripts:

It is fun for you and you can learn new words from lyrics of songs you love. These new words you learned are used in sentences so it is easier to remember them.

6. Use what you learn the same day:

If you learn a new word, a new phrase or some grammar, you should use it the same day. For example, you can write a comment on Facebook or an email, tell your friend or relative about it.

7. Communicate with a native speaker:

The best way to develop your confidence in English is to communicate with native speakers so they can help you practice authentic English.

Five Things You Must Do Well If You Want to Be Effective Teacher of English

There are some important characteristics and skills which are a must for any teacher of English to do his job effectively. Without these things, it’s preferable for the person to try another job or for the teacher of English to teach any subject other than English language. These things are as follows:

1.Talk well:

As a teacher of a language, you will not be able to teach it if you prefer to be silent most of the time especially during the class. You should be a model for your students in talking well using the language. Talk and encourage your students to talk to learn the language.

2. React well:

Good reactions are the main element in the learning process. You should have the ability to react to your students’ talk, questions and responses. Your reactions should not only be in a verbal way. Non-verbal reactions are often more effective. In your reactions you should use all means you have to give the suitable and effective feedback.

3. Explain well:

The core of teaching is explanation. You need to learn how to clarify language items to your students. Explanation includes many skills; e.g. giving examples, presentation, clarification, wrapping up, … etc. it’s a joke if you are a teacher and not having the skills of explanation. But it is not too late. You still have the opportunity to learn to teach, I mean to explain.

4. Enjoy:

Learning a new language is and must be usually an enjoyable experience. Suppose that you don’t feel excited when you learn or teach the language, how come to make your students enjoy learning this language. Enjoyment and excitement make learning permanent and guarantee achieving all learning objectives.

5. Create:

Teaching a language does not only mean presenting some certain individual words or teaching grammatical rules directly using very controlled activities but it should include creating real-life situations to use the new language. If the teacher of a language is not creative, students will not have the opportunity to live with the language. Language will be something stable for them. Teacher of English should go beyond controlled and guided tasks to free production stage. This kind of transfer will not be possible unless the teacher has the sense of creativity and encourages the students to be creative, too in their use of the language.

Start the School Year with Teaching Students These Four Skills

I recommend teachers help their students develop the following four skills from the very beginning of the school year as they set the tone for powerful, engaging and self-directed learning.

  1. Researching

Tell your students that your main job nowadays is not to give them the information but it is to teach them how to find the information.

  1. Contribution

Encourage students to make meaningful contributions to their surrounding environment. Teach them how to do so. When they have the opportunities to make such contributions they will be motivated and working hard.

  1. Working on projects

Let and help students determine projects that they are passionate about to work on during a certain period of time. Teach them how to plan their projects and provide them with useful resources.

  1. Working together

Help your students build teams or groups. Teach them the rules of teamwork.

20 Tips to Develop Thinking in the Classroom

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If you want to increase your effectiveness at teaching, the first thing you should do is to encourage your students to think, and then develop their thinking skills. Here, I would like to share with you some actions to do in the classroom to encourage students’ thinking and develop their thinking skills.

  1. Act the role of a facilitator or a guide not a lecturer or a preacher.
  2. Show enthusiasm for challenges and complex tasks that require students to think.
  3. Present your lessons in a logical and organized sequence.
  4. Use the kind of language that invites students to think (e.g. compare, classify, predict, suppose that, etc)
  5. Ask open-ended questions, wh-questions, why do you think so?, what if? and other kinds of questions of higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy that require students to think.
  6. Create problematic situations and encourage students to find creative solutions for them.
  7. Encourage students to ask and answer each other’s questions that provoke thinking.
  8. Encourage students to apply their past knowledge and experience to new situations.
  9. Move around the class and encourage students’ mobility.
  10. Encourage students to interact and cooperate in doing certain projects.
  11. Organize your class in various and different ways for different activities (e.g. pairs, groups, individuals and whole class)
  12. Value thinking and show creative works of students around the class.
  13. Use a variety of visual media to facilitate learning and encourage thinking (e.g. charts, wall sheets, videos, maps, pictures, flash cards, body language, etc)
  14. Encourage students to respond in any way without fearing of making mistakes and give supportive comments on incorrect responses.
  15. Create various and different evaluation activities.
  16. Always ask students to clarify and justify their answers.
  17. Always ask for alternatives or different points of view.
  18. Ask students to expand their answers adding more points.
  19. Encourage students to reflect on their thoughts or points of view.
  20. Ask students for clear and realistic ideas and asking about how to apply them to everyday life.

Hard but not impossible

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Learning a new language is not easy. It is hard for adults and busy people to learn a new language that sounds differently from their mother tongue and that they don’t use outside the classroom.

It is really hard, but not impossible. Recent studies suggest that you can get better at a foreign language simply by listening to it, without speaking it yourself.

In other words, if you listen regularly to podcasts in the language you’re trying to learn, you will learn it at the end.

One hour listening practice a day following with some simple tasks is a good start to improve your listening comprehension and increase your ability to distinguish sounds.

Also, it is recommended to watch TV shows or short video clips and read material written in the language you are learning.

The goal is to be surrounded by the target language at all times and immerse yourself in it. Still, you should be both passive and active when you learn a foreign language, that is to listen and speak, read and write. In other words you should receive and produce something in the language you are learning EVERY DAY.

 

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