Learning timing as an EFL teacher.
Diary submitted by Fruzsina B. Madrid
Learning timing and effective lesson planning as an EFL teacher can definitely be a challenge.
I have already had some experience in teaching English as a foreign language before starting my TEFL internship in Spain, as I have been working as a private English teacher since September 2015, giving lessons that are 60 minutes long to primary and high school students and 90 minutes long to adults who are preparing for an exam and, in my opinion, can also keep their focus for a longer time.
In these lessons, I usually leave ten to fifteen minutes in the beginning for revision about what they learned in chool, making sure they understood the grammar and vocabulary; then around fifteen minutes to practise the grammar point, then around the same amount of time speaking about either a specific topic, or about their week and everyday things. Then the last ten to fifteen minutes can be reserved for some review and games. The 90 minute classes are more or less the same, except for leaving more time for every activity I have mentioned (apart from games). For instance, it is crucial to leave sufficient time for speaking, as this is the area that most Hungarian students struggle with. Apart from leaving time for general chat about their week or more general topics, it is also important to practise the specific topics that can come up at an exam, such as environmental issues, technology, etc.
However, my own ideas about timing were challenged very fast when I started my TEFL internship in Spain. I had a hard time getting used to the specific method. I had forty minutes at my disposal for each student, but something that was very strange for me was that those forty minutes were only reserved for speaking. The first forty minutes were for the listening exercise, the middle part was for the speaking, and the last forty minutes were for individual revision and grammar.
Therefore, I must confess that I have struggled a bit with timing at the beginning of my internship. I found it difficult to fill all of these 40 minutes with a valuable lesson. Of course I had set questions that I had to ask each student about the text they have listened to, but even after they have answered all of the questions, I was often left with another twenty minutes that I had no idea how to fill. I usually resigned to personal conversations but of course that was not ideal.
According to ESL base, if there is not enough material planned, new activities should contribute to the lesson, and one should avoid trying to fit in exercises that do not add value to the lesson – and this was what I struggled with the most. However, after getting some advice from the staff, I started to use the text as a resource for a topic to develop my own questions. For example, if the text was about smoking, I asked the students about their personal opinion of smoking, and about the smoking habits in their country, like whether smoking inside is allowed in Spain, etc. This encouraged the students to talk and led to interesting discussions and soon enough I was able to provide my students with a valuable forty-minute lesson.
In conclusion, I believe that learning timing as an EFL teacher is a life-long process, especially because of the different teaching methods used in different language academies that require different ways of timing. It is important to be open and flexible when it comes to new methods, and of course, practice is vital – teaching English as a foreign language is one of those jobs that are never truly statics and the majority of ideas are formed as one goes along, adjusting to every kind of situation.
- “TEFL lesson planning.” Eslbase, www.eslbase.com/tefl-a-z/lesson-planning. Accessed 26 Aug. 2017.