Teaching Tips for First Year ESL Teachers

The following are 6 teaching tips for first year ESL teachers:

ESL students reacting in the classroom

Set the tone for the year.

On the first day of class you want to let your students know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. You want to be firm yet approachable; this may seem like a difficult balance to strike, but you’ll be glad you did so sooner rather than later. As the school year progresses, students can sometimes get bored and start misbehaving. It’s difficult to regain control of the class once you’re down this path, so clearly outline your expectations from the start.

Bring extra activities to class.

As a first time teacher sometimes it can be all too easy to fly through the lesson, (either due to nerves or the lack of student participation), and then find yourself with an extra 20 minutes to spare and nothing to do. Always plan a back-up activity or two just in case things go a little faster than you expected.

Create a seating chart.

It’s nice to give students the opportunity to sit next to their friends provided that they can behave themselves. It shows that you have enough confidence in them to allow them to choose where to sit. However, if you find that certain students are distracted by the person next to them; it’s time to take action. The same goes if you see that students in the back of the class are slacking in their work. A seating chart will you give you the opportunity to reorganize the class and arrange students in a way that will be more conductive to learning.

Ask your fellow teachers for advice.

Your co-teachers are one of your most valuable resources. Most of them will be able to give you tips and ideas on what has worked for them in the past and what hasn’t. They may have also taught some of the classes that you now find yourself teaching, and it that case, you may be able to get some ideas on how to structure a certain lesson or what activities to incorporate.

Implement a reward system.

Reward positive behavior in the classroom. For younger students this may come in the form of stickers, for older students this may come in the form of verbal praise. You can also reward the class collectively at the end of the semester if they have worked well together. For example, if the class is able to reach a certain overall average, you may decide to have a pizza party on the last day of class to celebrate their achievement.


If you are considering teaching English overseas, it is a good idea to earn your TESL/TEFL/TESOL diploma. This will give you the training you need in order to be an effective teacher in the classroom, especially if your background isn’t in teaching. Also, in some countries holding a TESL/TEFL/TESOL diploma means that you will have a competitive advantage over other applicants, and in many cases you will be able to earn a higher salary.

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