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Teaching Tips: How to Survive Your First ESL Class

Walking into the classroom to teach your first class is nerve-racking no matter the amount of training you have had. As a new teacher in China, you can expect to be thrown into the classroom unprepared and expected to teach right off the bat.

I myself had an awful first class in front of 30 children who constantly asked me where their old teacher had gone….

This situation may be unavoidable but to stop yourself from bombing completely I have compiled the top five things you can do to make it through your first class.

1) Use Google! (I mean Baidu…): Whether you are teaching in a University, primary school or Kindergarten spending 5-10 minutes to research appropriate teaching content and methods is crucial. Do not turn up to your first class of 30 kindergarten students trying to teach Western culture. Sounds ridiculous but I saw it happen…

A quick Google or Baidu search can help you here!

2) Plan! Plan! Plan! Make a plan! A SHORT plan. Making a lesson plan is really useful but I see so many teachers with 30 minutes to fill because they didn’t plan successfully.

Don’t be that guy!

Instead, make a SHORT plan, just a few bullet points and try to remember them.

You can find a post on how to make an excellent teaching plan here.

3) Practice Makes It Less Cringey: It’s embarrassing and no one wants to do it but have a little practice by yourself, pretend you are in front of the class and run through your plan.

Remember to find somewhere with no people before you start acting and talking to yourself… awkward!

4) Prep Time is Important: Again it sounds obvious but people will forget this. As you become more experienced you will need less and less equipment and preparation time. For your first class, you should look to spend at least five to ten minutes beforehand getting used to the classroom and preparing any props or materials you may need.

5) Relax and Go With the Flow: If you are too lazy to do the five steps then at least remember this one thing RELAX.

Relaxing will make the students feel more comfortable around you and will make your lesson run smoother.

Remember it’s only your first class no one expects you to win an award for the world’s best teacher so relax, make it through the 20 – 60 minutes and you will soon find yourself teaching classes without the slightest of worries.

If you follow these five steps you can survive your first ESL class and all the rest after.

Happy teaching 🙂

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