Tips for Teaching English

Helpful Tips for English Teachers

A few basic tips for teaching English based on my experience teaching English to university students in Korea. These tips also work for teachers around the world with any age or level so keep on reading. My goal is that you will be able to make your classes even more awesome than they currently are.

What’s your Target Language

The key to having a great ESL lesson is to have a goal. This goal usually involves target language, either some vocabulary, grammar point, or both. Write the target language on the board or have it up on the PPT so that the students can see what’s going on and know what they need to focus on! In general, it’s always a good idea to give students two ways to pick up the language-written and spoken, unless you’re specifically working on listening practice.

Need help with lesson plans? Check out: University ESL Lesson Plans

What’s Going On During your ESL Lesson?

Always provide a simple agenda of what you’re covering in class that day. People like to know where they’re going and have the big picture in their heads. Students like to see the progress that they’re making because it makes them feel good!

Big Picture First

Always teach the big picture first before getting bogged down in all the details.

I play a lot of board games and one of my big pet peeves is when someone starts with the little stuff instead of telling you what the ultimate goal of the game is. Or, they start telling you the most minor of details instead of just telling you the few basic things you need to actually know how to play. Teaching is the same!

In my experience, the smaller details are often best worked out by the students when doing practice. You really don’t need to explain every single little thing to them in a presentation–this method is way too teacher-centred.

For an idea of how I conduct my lessons, see: How to Teach English to University Students

Pause Often During ESL Classes

I had one Korean teacher who would never give me time to think and would just cut in with the answer when I just about to say it. Since that terrible experience, I now wait patiently for responses, even if it takes a few seconds. Be patient! Students usually can respond to a question with at least a word or two, but it often doesn’t happen instantly, especially for lower-level students.

Review is Necessary for ESL Students

I never used to do much review, assuming the students would do it on their own except that this most often isn’t the case. Learning a language is all about repetition, so help your students out by doing lots of review. It’s far better to know a few things well than to know a million things not really at all.

Need some help with review? See: 39 ESL Review Activities for Teenagers and Adults.

Need some Awesome ESL Activities?


If you answered yes to this important question, then you’ll need to check out: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. It’ll cut your lesson prep time in half, guaranteed!

You can check out the book over on Amazon. It’s available in both digital and print formats. If you’re looking for ESL activities to make your classes even better than they already are, it’s exactly what you need!

—>101 ESL Activities: For Teenagers and Adults<—-

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