How-To: Preparing for a New Class (TEFL, ESL, English Trainers)
Research the Company
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If you are teaching English at a company, research the company. Find out if they have multiple locations, subsidiaries, what they do, and learn their company history. If the company is a production company, try to find out a little bit about their production. This will help you so much in the future. Students will often try to explain things about their job and need assistance with the vocabulary. If you are familiar with their company, you will be able to help them so much better. Moreover, you will be able to tailor the lessons more specifically to their job.
For example, if the topic includes something about processes. Get them to explain their processes. Maybe even have them create a flow-chart documenting how their product is made. By researching the company in advance, you will be much better equipped to help them.
Study the Students
There are several things that you should try to find out before the class starts. If you don’t have everything sorted out before the class starts, then try to learn as much as possible on the first day. Here is a short list of some things that I try to find out about all of my students.
- Their current language level and target language level
- When and where they use English
- Their job tasks and responsibilities
- Which department they work in
- The last time they had an English class
Note: The reason why I try to find out the last time they had an English class is because if it has been a long time, chances are that they have a much stronger passive understanding than an active one. This means that typically they demonstrate a stronger level in comprehension as opposed to actively speaking.
I try my best to give lots of energy in all my lessons. But we all have days where we don’t feel our best or didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. However, for the first lesson you really need to bring it! Tell them how excited you are to be there and how much they are going to learn by the end of the course. Say things like: “I’m really excited to be here and to meet all of you. By the end of the course you can expect to have learned X,Y,Z.”
Tip: Be careful that you don’t overpromise and underdeliver. If promise your students that they will be amazing English speakers and by the end of the course and they don’t feel “amazing”, it could make your life difficult. It’s better to promise specific learning objectives (to get them motivated) rather than subjective things like fluency, confidence, or abilities to do certain things in English.
Do you agree with my tips? What are some things that you do to prepare for a new class? Have I forgotten something important on this list? Please let me know!