10 good tips for language teachers

You’re in Japan and found some students. Cool! But are you really ready to teach?
Here is a list of 10 simple tips you should keep in mind. Some of them are obvious but it’s always easy to forget one or two of them, isn’t it?

1. Be prepared. There’s no better tip we could give a teacher. Have some “introduction” lessons ready for different levels (beginner, advanced …).
Prepare these lessons with the greatest care : when you meet someone, first impression does have a huge importance, doesn’t it? About teaching, it’s the pretty same : if your first lesson is well prepared, motivating, your students will definitely be eager to have some more with you. If you’re not ready and prepared, your students will feel it and start running away.

2. Give your students the greatest attention : never forget there’s a human being behind every student. Encourage them, cheer them, make them feel it’s worth attending your lessons, and keep contact with them regularly. They’ll feel cared and keep a better image of you and your lessons.

3. Get to know your students. No matter how much you prepare and care about your students, if they’re not interested in your lessons’ topics, you’ll hardly keep them.
Ask them to tell you their hobbies and interests, and adapt some of your lessons to their tastes. Any topic is good to teach new vocabulary and grammar rules. Your students will be more interested in the lessons and feel you prepare for them : once again it can only be good.

4. It’s good to cheer your students’ progress, even better to show them how and where they improved. For each new lesson, review quickly the progress made last time, and at the end of lessons, do a quick sum up. Your students should clearly see where they improved after each lesson.

5. Be organized! Hold a notebook and take notes regularly about each student : some information about them, their hobbies, their tastes, their learning problems, the number of lessons you had yet, the topics you introduced … (almost) any kind of data can help you preparing better lessons and show your students you’re serious about teaching.

6. Share your culture. Many students learn a given language because it is spoken in a country they are interested in. And it may well be your country of birth! Letting students know about your country’s culture and good places to see can give them extra motivation.

7. Use medias. Don’t forget to give your students a copy of your texts, vocabulary lists … it is very important to them to keep something concrete from lessons, something they can work on until the next lesson, not to forget everything!
If your students are still working on pronounciation, you can send them sound files by mail : words or texts read with a perfect pronounciation. It will help them a lot.
You can also send them interesting videos about a topic you taught, so that they can improve their oral understanding, vocabulary …

8. Be serious. Seriously.
Well, this tip is important for first lessons mainly. Once your students attend your lessons regularly, you can be more friendly, less formal.
However, for first lessons, it is important to look serious : do you easily imagine a good teacher going to a first lesson wearing shorts and cap? We do not. Neither do students.

9. Always give your students a teaching plan for the next 3-4-5 lessons. People rarely enjoy unfinished business, so they will come back if you show it’s worth coming to the next lessons. Short term goals can be motivating, but you should always mention there’s something “after”.

10. Entertain your students. Not by making a fool of yourself! Interactivity, language games (crosswords …), oral expression are always welcome and funnier than formal (who said boring?) text reading and “fill the gap” exercises. Well, the latter are still necessary at some point, so you should find a good balance between all these things.

If you have any more ideas, freely share them with us, we’re only aiming to improve our listing!

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