As English teachers and tutors there is a wealth of information on ESL strategies and teaching methods that are designed to help our students improve their language skills based on their level and needs. There are many things that we can do during our lessons to make sure that our students are reaching their full potential. However, there are also things that we do as teachers, often without realizing it, that can slow down the learning process for our students. In today’s article we wanted to go through some of these ‘teacher mistakes’ and give you advice on how to avoid them.
1. Not gathering enough information about your students
Here at Fluentify we do one-on-one English lessons with students from all different backgrounds and levels. But even for larger ESL classes, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a teacher is not gathering enough information about your students.
- Why are your students there?
- Why are they learning English?
- How is what they learn now going to affect them in the future?
- What are your students interested in/ passionate about?
- What are their strengths? Weaknesses?
Being able to answer these questions will help you plan your lessons to make them effective, useful, and interesting. When working with adult students, it’s really important to understand their motivations and English needs, which are usually a little more urgent, to ensure that your lessons are appropriate.
2. Having bad time management
Sometimes your lessons may fly by while other times it may seem like the clock is stopped. However, managing your time well during your English lessons is key. First, structure is important for students whether they’re older or younger learners. Having a clear structure allows students to set their expectations and keep their work organized.
During one-on-one lessons, good time management skills will allow you to complete all of the tasks you’ve outlined and make sure that your student is prepared for their next English challenge. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask your student how their weekend was, but when they have a big presentation in a few days you know that you need to dive into practice as quickly as possible.
3. Talking (alone) the whole time
One mistake that we can easily fall into as English teachers, especially during one-on-one sessions, is talking the whole time and not allowing our students to get a word in. It happens to the best of us- you’re telling your student a story about your last vacation and you realize that the session is over and you haven’t given the student any corrections or notes because they haven’t said a word. Especially on Fluentify where our main goal is to help our students improve their fluency, it is necessary that our students have the opportunity to speak as much as possible during our sessions. Be aware of your speaking time during lessons so that your students aren’t only working on their comprehension, but their speaking as well!
4. Ignoring teacher-student boundaries
At Fluentify we are all about creating genuine relationships with our students. However, it’s really important during this process to have student-teacher boundaries. First, keeping a certain level or professionalism will maintain the integrity of the learning environment and it allows the student to view you as his/her guide, coach, or teacher in this learning process. Second, we never want to put ourselves or our students in an uncomfortable situation. Don’t ask your students too many personal questions about their lives or families unless they volunteer this information first and be mindful of how much you share about yourself. While these boundaries are clear and strictly enforced in many classroom settings, we also need to keep them in mind for our online or in person one-on-one English lessons.
5. Not listening to your students
This doesn’t mean just on the surface level, but really listen to your students. They could be trying to give you signals about how they feel that the lessons are going or on which things just aren’t working. If they tell you that every activity you’ve sent them has been impossible, instead of telling them to just keep studying, maybe you can send them a different kind of activity or something more appropriate for their level. If your student tells you that they’re discouraged because they don’t feel like they’ve made any progress, make sure to point out where they have improved or recommend some other activities that they can do outside of your lessons together to help them work on their English daily. It’s important to listen to your students to understand if you’re meeting their needs or how you can improve your lessons.
— REMEMBER —
For most of our students, learning or improving their English is extremely important for them. This job can be very hard, but we have to keep our students’ goals in mind and work in a way that will allow our students to reach that next level and become English speakers.
Are there any other common mistakes made by ESL teachers that we didn’t mention? Comment below!