10 Quick Classroom Tips for Teaching English Abroad

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Many gapers (i.e. people taking gap years) and travelers have found that teaching English abroad is a great way to travel, get paid and meet lots of new and interesting people all at once.

Because so many people in lots of different countries (such as those in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe) are eager to learn English, there is a great demand for English-speaking people to go out there and teach them.

For more information on overseas teaching jobs (primarily how to get the right qualifications and how to find teaching jobs abroad), check out this article.

Let’s say you’ve got your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification and you’ve found a job teaching English abroad. How do you ensure that your pupils listen to you and don’t run riot? How do you make your lessons both educational AND interesting, without discouraging the slower learners in the group?

I’ve compiled 10 quick tips for teaching English abroad that should help you when you get into the classroom:

1. Look and Act the Part

When you first walk in to a classroom you want there to be no doubt in the pupil’s minds that you are the teacher. You can demonstrate this by the way you dress and by the way you act.

You should also make an effort to set out student-teacher boundaries, so that they know what is acceptable and what isn’t (this is especially important with children).

Although it can be fun to be seen as a ‘cool’ teacher, a little discipline and respect goes a long way. For example, have the children call you ‘sir/madam’ or ‘Mr. Jones/Ms. Jones’.

2. Organize Your Classroom Effectively

In every classroom there will be lots of different personalities. You’ll often find that the quieter (or the naughtier) students will attempt to hide at the back of the classroom (especially with kids), whereas the louder, more confident students will sit up at the front. By subtly switching around the design or the seating plan of your classroom you can make sure everyone is equally involved in the lessons and that the more enthusiastic students aren’t ‘hogging all the learning’.

3. Preparation is the Key

Spend a good amount of time planning out your lessons in advance so that you know exactly what (and how) you’ll be teaching before you go in each day. When teaching English, lessons should be divided into four key skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening.

“Plan your work and work your plan” – Margaret Thatcher

4. Use Visuals to Bring the Language Gap

Most classrooms (wherever you are in the world will world) will have some kind of blackboard/whiteboard that you can use to draw/write on. By using this (as well as any other visual aids you can find) you’ll be able to explain things (such as the meaning of a word) more clearly to your class.

5. Express Yourself (Especially When Teaching Children)

As well as using your voice to get your point across, make a conscious effort to express yourself using your body and your facial expressions. Using exaggerated movements and enthusiastic gestures will enable you to communicate with your class on multiple levels and will enable them to have a greater understanding of what you’re trying to say.

Teaching English

6. Keep Focus and Stick to the Lesson Plan

Teaching someone a new language can be one of the most difficult things to teach (especially for a new teacher) as it’s easy to veer off topic and lose focus on what you’re trying to get across.

Teaching English not only requires hard work and discipline from your students, but also from you, as it’s your job to stick to the lesson plan and not confuse things too much. Straying too far from what you’re supposed to be teaching will just confuse and overwhelm your students.

7. Don’t Force it

Remember that learning a new language can be extremely hard (especially for young children), so if they’re having trouble with something don’t be afraid to take a step back, focus on something else for a while and come back to that later.

The last thing you want to do is to frustrate your pupils and lose their attention because the lesson is too hard.

8. Realize that Children Get Embarrassed

After explaining something to the children you might ask them if they understand. The majority of the time, what you’ll see from children is nods and smiles. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they do understand what you’ve just been trying to teach them, however, as some children might be too embarrassed (or proud) to tell you that they don’t understand. To really find out (and to further cement the lesson you’ve just taught), set them a task or ask them a question to test their knowledge.

9. Personalize Your Lessons

Whenever you’re teaching something, it’s a good idea to use real-world examples (that the children can relate to) as you’re explaining it.

Pupils will show much more interest if you’re talking about things that are relevant to them, as they’ll be able to connect with and understand what you’re trying to teach them more easily.

10. Get the Children Actively Involved

Instead of having your class sitting down the whole time while you stand up at the front and preach to them, why not get them up and active every now and then?

For example, instead of having your class write out sentences at their desks, why not cut out large cardboard words and have them arrange them on the floor?

This is a great way to mix things up and can be a lot of fun for the children.

Teaching English abroad can be a really enjoyable and challenging experience if you dive in and embrace it head-on.

One the main differences between teaching at home and teaching English abroad is that the classrooms will typically be bigger (i.e. with more children per class).

In addition to this, you won’t typically have the same tools you’d find at home (such as overhead projectors). Because of this, it’s important that you exercise a great deal of creativity and enthusiasm to make the classes educational, fun and interesting.


Related posts:

  1. Overseas Teaching Jobs – A Definitive Guide Teaching English Abroad
  2. How Teaching English Abroad Can Lead to a Gap Year-Like Lifestyle
  3. Jobs Abroad for College Graduates
  4. Jobs Abroad for Couples
  5. Travel Safety Tips – Staying Safe While You’re Abroad




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  • sophia joseph

    I am going to teach English in Europe and these tips are really going to help me a lot thanks for sharing these tips with us and as you have mentioned above personalizing your lessons will really going to help the students a lot.

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