23 Jun My First Day as an English Language Instructor
Sidd S. shares his first day as a TESOL Instructor
Even as a native speaker, it’s not easy teaching someone a new language. Prior to starting my TESOL course, I thought, “I’ve got this! How hard can it be to teach English? I’ve been speaking it my entire life!” Well, it’s a lot more challenging than I thought. There are many factors that go into teaching a language course.
Getting to know your students
The first lesson can be nerve wracking, but the key is to stay calm and confident. I had 12 students on my first day. Some of them knew each other from previous classes and some didn’t.
I decided to ‘break the ice’ by asking the students to write down three interesting facts about themselves on a piece of paper. The folded pieces of paper went into a box and then the students chose one and read out the ‘facts’ while the other students guessed the person. It worked out great!
This activity served two purposes for me. One, we all got to know each other a little better and two, it gave me an idea about each students’ level of language. They got a good chuckle out of the more interesting facts; someone said they like to climb trees! I mean, who doesn’t? By the way, I included myself in this activity too. I remember my TESOL instructor saying that people love to talk about themselves. It was amazing to see students get excited and engaged doing such a simple activity.
Down to business
Prior to my first class, I had prepared a detailed lesson plan. My first lesson was on ‘should/have (got) to/must’ and when to use them correctly. I found that about a third of the class had an idea about the topic while the rest did not.
One of the things I learned from the TESOL course was how to illustrate meaning in context and to use gestures and body language to convey meaning to the students. I asked students to use the new vocabulary and grammar by asking them to form sentences on their own and by working in pairs and groups. It was important for me to ensure that the lessons were more student-led than teacher-led. This gets students talking and practicing more, and also keeps them from falling asleep!
Time management and adapting to situations
Whilst planning my lesson, I didn’t think I had enough activities to cover a two-hour lesson. I realized the opposite was true. What I thought was going to take only 5 minutes took twenty. I did not account for my anticipated problems and solutions during a topic. This was something my TESOL instructor loved to stress, and she was right. My students had questions on each new topic. Instead of answering the questions myself, I followed a typical TESOL technique by getting students to figure out the answers on their own or in groups, thereby facilitating more student talk time and adopting a more inductive approach to teaching.
Students aren’t always used to this type of methodology so at times you do get them staring at you like a deer caught in the headlights. Eventually they get used to it and start thinking more about the language for themselves. Additionally, I also had to adapt to new students coming in midway through the lesson. I made sure the new students weren’t all sitting together and instead paired them with students that had been there from the start.
My first day as a TESOL instructor went smoothly and a lot better than expected. I felt ready and prepared despite the jitters. I’m not sure whether I would’ve been able to pull it off without the TESOL training though! Following basic TESOL techniques, along with applying a bit of each one of its methodologies and tweaking them to fit my personality, is what made my first lesson a fun and successful experience for me. Yes, there were some minor hiccups, but I’m proud of my first lesson!
Final word – this is definitely something I see myself doing for a long time to come!
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