Teach English in Majie Zhen - Shangluo Shi

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It has been said a seasoned confident teacher can give a solid EFL lesson with nothing more than a whiteboard marker and a moment's notice. But for the rest of us, we need planning and preparation. Not all of us have the experience and confidence to walk in armed with just a marker. In fact, some teachers don't have the confidence to go into a classroom at all. A teacher's apparent level of comfort in the classroom matters, not just to help the teacher sleep at night. For the students, their teacher's confidence level in the classroom will translate into whether the teacher is perceived as knowledgeable. In turn, the students' confidence in their teacher will affect many other aspects of class time, from their willingness to participate to whether they'll ask questions. What can a new, or not confident, teacher do to feel at ease in an EFL classroom? Prepare. Preparation is the key to a new teacher making the classroom their kingdom. A solid lesson plan, with backup plans and activities, makes everything fall into place. Planning will help a teacher look like they are in complete control, even if he or she doesn't feel it. Having a load of 'fun stuff' to fill class time, of course, is not the way. Activities put into play in lessons should be based on decisions. There should be objectives and reasons behind everything done in a lesson and a well-thought-out lesson plan with clear aims will help build the confidence and skills of everyone in the room. Although a lesson shouldn't be exactly scripted, and should be simple, there is a lot the teacher can decide on long before entering the classroom: methods, order of activities and type of presentation or discovery, type of warmer, classroom arrangement, and even how information will be written on the whiteboard. Those well-planned lessons should be student-centered through elicitation and student-focused activity. The more students have to do the better. It's better for them and better for the teacher. The learners get a lot more English practice time and the nervous instructor can step out of the spotlight. When the lesson is well designed, an EFL teacher has plenty of time for monitoring, observing, and note taking for feedback. The teacher can also discretely check in the lesson plan for what to do next if he or she is unsure, while still looking as 'cool as a cucumber'. It's good to have a backup plan, or at least backup activities. Planning is a great help, but a teacher can’t know exactly how a lesson will turn out and there should be flexibility to meet learner needs. If it feels like an activity is tanking, a new teacher can be free to throw it out and go with something different if they have a Plan B, or even C. If an activity is not going over well, the students and teacher will appreciate the change. New teachers should always have more carefully chosen materials and activities available than they think they'll need. Confidence can be built by going through the lesson plan multiple times in his or her head before class time. There is also a lot to be gained by making sure everything is ready for the lesson: all the materials and the classroom too. In time, as the teacher gains experience and confidence, lesson plans will naturally loosen up. Just as important as having a solid lesson plan is having solid English grammar and spelling skills. A new teacher will find lessons easier when they know each grammar point very well. The hard work at the beginning of a career to build grammar skills will pay off immediately, and in the long run, in ease of teaching and increased confidence. Also helpful for confidence building and smooth lessons is making sure students have the English vocabulary they need to work in English in the classroom. Even absolute beginner students can be easily taught through visuals and Total Physical Response (TPR) the necessary English vocabulary, like 'stand up' and 'listen', to be used in class so that English lessons are done in English. Higher level students can learn full sentences and questions to help them operate better in English in the classroom. (For example: What does that mean? How do you spell that?) When English increases in class time it's very satisfying and it means more confidence for all -- teacher and learner alike. Another good, but smaller, idea is for a teacher to reserve a top corner of the whiteboard as a space to note and list grammar points and vocabulary covered as the lesson is worked through. At the end of the lesson the teacher can refer to the list in that corner. This recap with the students before they go home will remind the teacher and the students of all the good work done that day. A teacher who doesn’t feel confident may also like to be in the room as the students come in before the start of the lesson, to greet them and get a head start on the daily ice breaking. It’s also a good idea for any nervous teacher to remember that half the class is probably more nervous than the teacher is. In the end, a teacher should try not to worry too much. If the teacher is pleasant and fair, and earnest and well-prepared, everything will work out just fine.