Common mistakes to avoid as a TEFL teacher
Reflective Diary submitted by TOBY.
In the process of becoming a qualified TEFL teacher there will always be mistakes made along the way, but the main goal is to try and eliminate those that can really have a detrimental impact on your student.
One fundamental mistake that is common amongst first- timers is not following the “Teacher Talking Time” rule (TTT). Not following this rule leads to a negative imbalance in the ratio of talking time that the student should be having. The more time you spend talking the less time students will have to correctly process the information, understand the questions and feel comfortable enough to reply to them. It really does depend on the level of the student you are teaching, but there tends to be a rule of thumb that you should only be speaking to the student for around 30% of the lesson. From the experience i have had teaching these past 6 weeks, I have tried using various techniques to encourage the student to talk as much as possible. Such as asking open ended questions, pin pointing topics they are interested in and giving the student time and patience whilst they think about what they are going to say.
Another mistake that is common amongst teachers is allowing the student to heavily use their native language. This problem really depends on what type of student you get and what level they are at. Obviously, A1 beginners will need a lot of help in translating words and phrases back into their native language, in which case it’s important that the teacher makes an effort to do this. However with any level above this, it’s important to make sure they are not asking you questions or replying to you in their native tongue. If ever you do use their native language, this should always be preceded firstly in English. From the classroom, I have devised certain techniques to use for A1/ A2 students, whereby i translate the important verbs or vocabulary in a sentence to help them with the general comprehension and then get them to note each one down. With B1/B2 i speak 95% of the time in english, however helping them with all queries about vocabulary , grammar etc.
In summary, there are will always remain mistakes that teachers make unknowingly, therefore it is important for a colleague to make an observation from time to time to make sure you are in line with the goal of effective teaching. However, as long as you make sure the key mistakes as mentioned above are not made then all will be well.