There is no doubt that teaching English can be a challenging job. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can manage your classroom effectively and with ease. In this article I’m going to talk about three ways the 120-hour TESOL certificate course offered by OnTESOL prepared me really well for teaching English in Toronto.
1- Classroom Management
Although adults are more motivated to learn than children, there are times when teachers face challenges with those students who struggle to stay motivated or to participate. The assignments in the OnTESOL course taught me to reflect critically on effective classroom management strategies and helped me to know how to approach my students in a way that would support them to improve. When I am faced with challenging students, speaking with them directly and in private has worked well at getting to the root of the problem. I often come from a compassionate approach and remove all blame by asking the student to come up with solutions we can both implement. This way the student feels supported but is clear that the behavior in question, or whatever may be the challenge, needs to be improved.
2- Organizing a Lesson
It is very important to know how to prepare your students for a task and to set them up to be successful. Before approaching any reading or listening task, I always prepare my students with a good warm up task, such as thought provoking discussion questions that are shared as a class and in pairs. I often try to include the language point in my discussion questions so that students are already using the grammar structure without even thinking about it. Once we reach the listening or reading task, I write two to three questions on the board with information they need to listen or read for. This way they are actively listening and using the required skill effectively. Finally, pre-teaching vocabulary is an essential task that should be done in almost every level to ensure students understand what they will be reading or listening to. These are just a few simple tasks that add up to help give structure to your everyday plan and to promote effective learning strategies.
3- Eliciting Information Through Concept Questions
It is important to know how to take the information presented in the textbook and ‘make it come alive,’ otherwise it would be very easy to get caught up in using the direct method, which does little to enhance students’ learning. Furthermore, we often don’t know when our students have understood what is being taught. This is where eliciting information through concept questions becomes very useful. When teaching grammar, I try to provide example sentences using the language point and then have the students tell me, for example, the time and tense of the verb in the sentence or the meaning of a word or phrase after I’ve written it on the board. For example, to check their comprehension of the present perfect with “She’s just come back from India,” I would ask the students: Did she just go to India? Did she go a long or short time ago?