Tips and Ideas for ESL,EFL Teachers

Powerpoint, Lesson Plans ,Board games, multimedia, Kids activities, crosswords, word searches, music & video worksheets

Kids are fun to teach.

On this site you will find tons of free teaching materials for kids developed thanks to Kieren McSweeney, a highly dedicated and specialized TEFL teacher of kids. His generous contributions include among others, flash cards, kids’ games, phonics worksheets, kids’ activity worksheets and more. Kieren’s favorite phrase is, “kids are fun to teach”.

The first time I found myself in an EFL kids’ class, I realized how dreadful it could be. Armed with only TEFL theories of teaching kids, I found myself defenseless in front of these innocent “monsters”. Not only was their concentration span short, but they only seemed to want to play. This made me feel like a case study of TEFL failure. How intimidating the thought was! I asked the school for a teaching assistant and although she managed to control the kids’ unruly behavior, I soon realized I was confronted with a whole new problem of boredom. Not only were the kids bored by my teaching but I also got bored teaching them and I was never looking forward to those lessons.

This first experience is not new to many new TEFL/TESL teachers. Well what I thought would be best would be to journey into the mind of a kid. How? It’s easy. Sit in an office building or a hidden position and observe kids very careful from a distance. That is one giant step into your journey. Then recalling some of your childhood memories would be another. Then you unearth the mysteries surrounding this world of kids. This is what I found. Play is at the centre of everything. Kids are always having fun in the form of a game or an activity of their own. The world to them is one blissfully happy place rich with great potentials for entertainment.

So all too often a kids’ lesson without fun appears too boring to follow. The only best possible ways to teach kids would be to adapt your language points into some playful activity that does not even give them a clue as to what they are learning. It is not surprising why they easily relate to games, music (songs), art etc. Not any game or activity will often do the magic. The best language games to start with, are those that are similar in nature to games the kids are at least familiar with. I have even had kids change the rules of games in a much better way than I imagined.

Try this. Observe kids play in a free environment and document the type of games they come up with. Build an English lesson around these games and tell me what you find. In my case, what I found was a livelier lesson that I soon enjoyed myself.

In a nutshell, to teach kids, teachers must be one with kids

PowerPoint in the classroom:

On this site, I have shared and continue to share some fantastic PowerPoint (ppt) presentations ready-made for use in ESL/EFL classrooms. I am not giving you anything I have not tried. Many teachers including me have used them without any problems. If you need a lesson plan on using any of the PowerPoint presentations on this site ask me. Check out my PowerPoint video tutorials for English and language teachers.

Why use PowerPoint presentations ( ppt)?

Teaching ESL, EFL especially to large classes of kindergarten, primary schools and absolute beginner students, can prove to be a nightmare at times. As a teacher of large classes especially, I found the use of ppt presentations a great aid in my teaching. (Note: by large classes I mean classes of 40-80 students). If you have taught English in places like China , such large classes are not uncommon.

Not only did powerpoint (ppt) help me drive home the language points to the students easily, but also it reinforced the language in form of games, quizzes and other activities, all built around ppt. An example is this Places around memory game. As a highly advanced user of ppt in the classroom, I have adapted many EFL, ESL classroom games to meet the needs of large classes especially. If well planned, using ppt to teach English to large classes takes away at least 50-70% of the difficulties of teaching large classes.

Don’t get me wrong, ppt presentations are not only great for large classes. I have developed ppt presentations for self-study with good results. High level ESL students consider it a professional and modern tool for teachers. Not only can you add sound into ppt for listening exercises, but you can also customize slide transitions, and insert action buttons for interactive exercises. It is a highly versatile language teaching tool and the extent to which you can use may only be limited by your creativity.

Modern technology can sometimes be a subtle dictator. As a language teacher I found that more and more classrooms get equipped with computers and projectors, making it unlikely we would escape from using them. The question is, why try to escape in the first place. These modern equipment are very tameable.

I’m sure some people out there will be wondering how to use ppt in classrooms without computers or overhead projectors. That is exactly what I thought a few years ago. This led me to start converting PowerPoint to DVDs which can be played on most DVD machines, PowerPoint video files, PowerPoint to flash videos for individual studies.

Crosswords and word searches for vocabulary:

We keep updating the number of crosswords and word search activities on this site for use in the classrooms. Crosswords and word search activities are not only good supplements but they help to strengthen vocabulary and spelling learnt.

Watch a student concentrate on a word search activity and you count the number of times he/she repeats the word silently to himself while looking for it. Then you would appreciate the value of these activities as great vocabulary reinforcement tools. Crosswords facilitate teaching vocabulary and spelling. They are just indispensable in ESL, EFL classrooms. For English vocabulary teaching, crosswords and word search activities have been freely given to you on this site. The difference between the crosswords and word search on this site and other lies in the fact that they have been maximized to improve vocabulary and spelling. You can download wordsearches here and crosswords here.

Using English videos and music in EFL, ESL classrooms.

Since language and culture always appear like a pair of identical twins, it is therefore not surprising that music and videos comfortably feature in most TEFL  teachers’ lesson plans.

a) Music:

English songs can be used for a wide variety of ESL learning and teaching activities. They can start discussions on a topic or even become the centre of debate. This is especially true of songs that develop a particular theme. Songs are also great for teaching listening. One of my favorite exercises with music is completing the blanks as students listen or listening and choosing the correct words from two words than rhyme, for example cry and try. You can teach grammar with songs in many ways. Most English songs sometimes sacrifice grammar for smooth rhyme. This makes them very good grammar teaching tools. You can ask students to find the mistakes or ask them how we would normally say it. Most songs reflect the background of the singer, why not do activities on something like varieties of modern English; or simply by comparing two songs ask students to figure out where the speaker is from and why. This is especially good for lessons that show the differences between British and American English. Of course you can teach new vocabulary with songs and students would understand them better within the context of the song. These are just a few of many ideas for using songs in ESL/EFL teaching. See the section on using music in ESL classrooms and download sample worksheets.

b) Videos:

Like English songs English videos can be used for an assorted variety of language teaching and learning. The main difference lies in the fact that you see and hear. Television is however a lazy medium, providing little challenges for the mind, by spoon-feeding the mind with sounds and sights, thereby providing little room for one’s imagination to thrive. So how do we make this lazy medium a useful classroom tool? Lots of ideas come to mind. How about turning of sound and asking students to create the dialogue from a scene? Or how about, getting one part of the class to watch and describe to the others? Yes! How about simply using a freeze frame technique where you watch and pause when it gets very interesting, then ask your students a number of questions about what happens next? View some worksheets on how to use videos. One video I often use is MR. BEAN. It is great for prompting students to describe what they just saw.

       By Futonge Kisito


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