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The Five Most Common Mistakes New EFL Teachers Make


“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes,” said Oscar Wilde.

This is true for everyone starting in a new career, and EFL teachers are no exception.

Since anyone can learn from their mistakes, then we should certainly learn from the following five mistakes beginner EFL teachers revealed they made.

1. Taking too much of the talking time

In EFL classes, students should practice speaking English so, when the teacher speaks most of the time, students won’t have enough opportunities to practice their speaking skills.

It is often a very crucial mistake that you take up too much of the talking time because students in this case will feel uncomfortable around silence or long pauses, or because they will lack the enthusiasm to share their knowledge.

Teachers should find the right balance between student talking time and their talking time by allowing students to speak for 70% of the class time, while they talk for the remaining 30%.

Your participation should be limited to giving instructions and explaining essential points, but above all to eliciting student response and facilitating all types of speaking activities.

2. Being too strict or too lax

Each student is different and rules must be set as a group. The problem stems from the fact that beginner teachers may not have the experience to achieve effective classroom management. So, they either become too strict or too lax. Realizing classroom management is not about being stricter, but rather being consistent.

Once you define how you’ll manage your class, stick to it!

3. Forgetting cultural differences

Some teachers focus only on teaching the English culture and completely ignore their students’ cultures. Some gestures ESL teachers may use in the classroom, like the gesture for Bye, may have different meanings in other cultures.

This is a mistake EFL teachers make when the culture is very different from Western culture, like Arabic or Oriental cultures.

So, teachers should learn about their students’ customs, especially greetings, and use this information to create a positive learning environment.

4. Collecting no information on students’ learning levels and needs

Many beginner EFL teachers start a class with a new group and don’t even find out where they’ve studied English before, how long, and with which results.

There may be a student who studied English over the last 12 years but is still at an intermediate level. So, it is important to collect this kind of information.

It doesn’t matter if you collect this information from your department head or the students themselves – this is essential information to get if you want your students to make progress in their English language skills.

5. Making no notes of the lesson that had been finished

Teachers should reflect on their lessons to improve their future teaching practices.

In my point of view, your success starts and your experience accumulates when you – as a beginner teacher – implement “Reflective Teaching” which is observing and reflecting on your teaching and using this observation and reflection as a way of bringing about positive change.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes!

Mistakes will surely be made and they may be valuable to be made when there are valuable lessons to be learned from each mistake.

If every beginner teacher tries to avoid the ones listed above, they will start their teaching career off on the right foot.

Thanks for reading

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