Thursday, June 08, 2006

Five Tips to Become An Expert English Teacher

Although there are scores of variables that can directly or indirectly affect rating as an EFL or ESL English teacher, many of them are out of your control. The school environment, the class profile of the learners, available materials, schedules, curriculum and most administrative aspects are among these.

There are many others that you can and should take control of, using them to your best advantage at all times. Examples of these elements include your individual skills and abilities as an EFL or ESL professional, materials you create for the use of your learners, your character, personality and approach to English Language Teaching (ELT) and your knowledge of the teaching / learning topic – the English language itself.

Here are five basic tips you can use on a daily basis that will enhance your notability as an ELT professional. Here they are:


1. Learn everything you can related to English Language Teaching and Learning

Attend classes, short courses, workshops and seminars. Read ELT methodology books and magazines both online and off. Subscribe to education-related magazines that will help you in your career. There are many available at no cost online. Try out www.techlearning.com for example. Just like a surgeon who must purchase tools and equipment so he can practice and improve his skills, you must invest in the tools that will make you a better English teacher.

2. Read everything you can get your hands on.

Read texts, non-fiction, biographies, read everything you can find. When you become a voracious reader, you become a more knowledgeable, better teacher. There are no short cuts to excellence. Look online, at professional organizations like TESOL, Inc. and IATEFL. Check local public, private, language institute and university libraries for collections of high-level technical materials. The internet has so much material available online at no cost, it would be embarrassing not to take advantage of it. Immerse yourself. Learn and grow. The payoff will show up in the classroom – in more ways than one.


3. Become active in professional organizations and SIGs (Special Interest Groups)

There should be at least a couple of professional organizations available in your country or region, like those mentioned above, that have SIGs. Find an area that interests you and go for it. Don’t just sit on the sidelines, get out there and DO something. Participate, share your opinions and ideas, ask questions. Then apply what you can to your teaching to maximize the experience. Try something new on a regular basis.

4. Increment your academic production

If you’re not writing articles, opinions, journals, commentary, reflections and even lesson plans that you post online for the perusal and use of other ELT professionals worldwide, you need to get cracking. Your learners aren’t the only ones who are interested in what you do in the classroom and beyond. I want to know too – yeah, really. There are local, regional, national and international technical publications that will take your work as well. No, you don’t need a PhD either. If you have a tip or technique your students love or that helps to get you through a tough teaching point, curious minds around the world want to know. Share it with us online at one of the more than 100 EFL / ESL Teacher websites like www.eslbase.com Not sure how to write it up? I’ll be glad to help you outline and draft your piece to share with the world.


5. Attend ELT Conferences, workshops and seminars

Not only do those professional organizations offer opportunities to grow and learn, but you can share your ELT knowledge, skills, experiences and abilities too. Attend all the sessions that you can, but by no means stop there. Skilled, knowledgeable presenters are always in demand. Set a goal to prepare and present a workshop, poster or academic session. Hone your research, writing and Power Point skills in the process. Do “test runs” on your colleagues at your school or institution for your and their enlightenment.


So there you have it. If these tips sound like you need to do some work, you do. But the work you put into fine-tuning your knowledge and teaching will be reflected in the number of smiles and high-scoring communicative learners you’ll produce. If you begin to notice the difference, so will others in the front office. That’s where the money comes from. The pride and satisfaction comes from those faces in front of you. Finally, if you’re the bashful type and need a gentle push in the right direction, please feel free to e-mail me at lynchlarrym@gmail.com with your question or concern. I’ll be glad to help.

1 comment:

nabi said...

Hi Larry,

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www.eslreflections.blogspot.com