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TEFL For Beginners – Top Tips, Problems and Suggested Solutions

Although teaching beginners strike fear into the hearts of some teachers, many teachers claim that teaching beginners is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of EFL teaching.

In this article, I will give you top tips for succeeding in TEFL for beginners and I will introduce some problems and suggest their solutions.

We can classify beginners into the following four categories:

1. The Absolute Beginners

They are the students who have no English at all. They are the students who need a lot of initial work on basic literacy skills and a lot of reading and writing practice.

2. The False Beginners

They are the students who have studied or been exposed to English previously but have not retained much language. They are able to produce a few simple structures.

3. The Young Beginners

They are the younger beginners who lack motivation as they haven’t usually made the choice to study English. As a result, they cannot see the benefit of learning a foreign language.

4. The Adult Beginners

They are adult students who have made their own decision to learn English and are highly motivated in studying it.

Top Tips for Teaching Beginners

Teaching beginners requires special skills and psychology. The first four things to think of when teaching beginners are as follows:

  1. Beware of their needs.
  2. Have clear and realistic aims.
  3. Choose the right techniques and methodology to achieve your aims.
  4. Always Motivate them.

Regarding the techniques and methodology, here are my tips for you:

  • Always adapt your teaching to suit the learning environment.
  • Be as visual as possible.
  • Take care with your board work.
  • Use clear, simple language.
  • Give clear, simple instructions.
  • Pace your lessons according to their levels.
  • Use choral and individual repetition.
  • Use pair and group work.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Encourage them to speak English in class as much as possible.
  • Don’t use their mother tongue even if you know it.
  • Revise constantly.
  • Always give homework assignments.

Regarding motivation, here are my tips for you:

  • Do not over-correct them.
  • Do not have their books open all the time.
  • Be sensitive to their feelings and emotions.
  • Respond to them as individuals.
  • Create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
  • Praise and encourage them.
  • Focus on what is easy, not what is difficult for them.
  • Explain the methods and techniques you use.
  • Give them a sense of achievement all the time.

Five Possible Problems with Beginners and Suggested Solutions   

1. Teaching a mix of real and false beginners:

Give them all more practice on basic structures.

2. Teaching weaker students:

Pair them with stronger students. Give them extra work to allow them to catch up.

3. Unable to Get Through the Learning Material

Don’t rush through it. The most common mistake teachers make is going too quickly without ensuring that students keep up with the material. Instead, save some for next time and always do revision classes.

4. Running Out of Material in a Lesson:

If it happens, simple revision and review activities can be used as fillers.

5. Students Cannot Understand the Listening Text:

Play it again. Listening skills take time to develop and students should gain as much exposure to different accents and speech patterns as possible.

If the students still can’t understand after a number of listening materials, the teacher can give out the listening script (usually found at the back of the course book) or read it out more slowly. This should be the final option.

Thanks for reading

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