Teaching English as a Foreign Language For Dummies
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Teaching English as a foreign language is an exciting and challenging experience. Here, you will find words of wisdom on everything from choosing a course to lesson planning, and all the stages in between.

Lesson planning checklist for teaching English

No matter what country you are teaching in, use this handy checklist to make sure that you’re really prepared for each lesson when you’re teaching English as a foreign language.

  • I know what level my students are at.

  • I know who my students are — their nationality, language, background, and so on.

  • I know how long the lesson is.

  • I set aims and objectives.

  • What I want to teach fits in with the course syllabus.

  • I know what my students need to know about this piece of language — its rules, patterns, etc.

  • I have an appropriate context for this language point.

  • I anticipated problems and have thought of ways to prevent them from occurring.

  • I have a planned activity or exercise for providing controlled practice.

  • I have a planned activity for providing free practice.

  • I have any materials I need.

  • My activities are communicative, which means the students spend some time interacting with each other to complete a task.

  • My teacher talking time is 30 percent or less.

Presenting grammar in English lessons

When you teach English as a foreign language, you can show what the grammar actually looks like when, for example, you manipulate verb tenses in different ways. Here are some examples:

  • Positive: He had written it.

  • Negative: He had not written it.

  • Question: Had he written it?

  • Contraction: He’d written it.

Here are other useful points for presenting grammar:

  • Pronunciation: Consider any features you need to highlight and drill.

  • Function: Demonstrate exactly when you use the grammar by putting it in context. Timelines help to represent this visually.

  • Examples: Use realia (examples from everyday life) or pictures, as well as sentences, to explain.

  • Concept check questions. Use questions to check that students understand what they are being taught.

  • Comparison with other grammar if necessary. Use examples from what the students have already learned to help clarify new ideas.

Marking students' written work with correction codes

Most teachers use a correction code when they mark written work so students can do some self-correction. You can devise your own symbols but this table shows some possibilities.

Mark Error Indicated
/ A word is missing
/ Start a new sentence
// Start a new paragraph
Gr Grammar error
Sp Spelling error
P Punctuation error
Art Error with articles (a, an, the)
c/unc Countable/uncountable error (you can use a/an before countable nouns but never before uncountable noun)
Wo Wrong word order
Ww Wrong word
Wt Wrong tense
Wf Wrong form
Irreg Irregular verb
? Unclear

Effective classroom practices

Here are some general points of good practice that you’ll find helpful in almost all situations when you are teaching English as a foreign language:

  • Plan ahead.

  • Ask for and welcome feedback.

  • Start off quite strict and ease up later, if you can.

  • Start and finish on time.

  • Respect your students.

  • Maintain a sense of humor.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Michelle Maxom has been teaching English throughout the UK and Italy since 1997 and has the Trinity Certificate and Licentiate Diploma in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TEFL). Formerly director of studies at Avalon School of English, she now trains would-be TEFL teachers and runs one-on-one and executive English courses.

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