Teacher Technique Articles

Ideas covering teaching methodology to elevate your effectiveness in the classroom and fully engage your students

The Differences Between Teaching English Online and Abroad
Geddy Gee
Exploring key distinctions between teaching English online and abroad, from flexibility and income to cultural immersion and career growth

Top 5 Strategies to Better Connect with Your Students
Armando Pannacci
The following five strategies to better relate to your students will pay off big time by both improving student performance and making your job easier

6 Mistakes Not to Make as an ESL Teacher
Armando Pannacci
To help you in your quest to be the best teacher you can be, here’s a quick guide on the more common mistakes that new ESL teachers make and how you can avoid making them yourself

7 Tips to Cut Teacher Talking Time
Altiné Moumouni
Managing teacher talking time (also known as TTT) is one of the most important areas to develop, yet most TEFL teachers neglect it

Please Don’t Say “OK?”
Josef Essberger
And especially don’t say “Do you understand?” or “Does everybody understand?” or, even worse (if that’s possible), “Does anybody not understand?” OK?

Teaching Students With Delayed Social/Emotional Development
William Peters, Ph.D.
William Peters suggests ways to resolve the learning difficulties experienced by students whose social/emotional development is delayed

Pronunciation Problems For Spanish-Speaking Learners Of English
Alex Case
Pronunciation problems and solutions for all speakers of Spanish

How To Teach The R Sound (2)
David Bolton
This, the second of a two-part article on how to help your students pronounce the American “R” sound, looks at “The Way of Analysis”

How To Teach The R Sound (1)
David Bolton
This, the first of a two-part article on how to help your students pronounce the American “R” sound, looks at “The Way of the Parrot”

How To Teach the Unreal Past
Alex Case
Presenting and practising past tenses for hypothetical situations

How To Teach Dealing With Enquiries
Alex Case
What to teach and how to do so with the surprisingly tricky topic of answering questions

How To Teach Ordinal Numbers
Alex Case
Presentation and practice for “first”, “second” etc, as well as trickier ordinals like “thirty-first” and “seventieth”.

Putting Yourself in Their Shoes
Graham Skerritt
When language teachers become language learners they learn much more than a new language

15 Ideas for Checking Answers
John Rogers
Tips on making the process of checking answers more engaging and beneficial for learners

Planning Versus Improvisation
Michelle Worgan
Why versatility and flexibility may sometimes win out over rigid adherence to a carefully prepared lesson plan.

Giving Students Individual Attention
Alex Case
Some very practical tips on giving individual attention to students in larger classes, or at least helping them feel as though they are getting it.

Respect and ESL Classroom Management
Shelley Vernon
The importance of two-way respect in the ESL classroom, and some tips on how to achieve it.

More Ways of Using Questionnaires in Class
Alex Case
More creative ideas for activities with questionnaires.

Using Questionnaires in Class
Alex Case
Imaginative ways to create and make use of questionnaires in class.

15 Top Tips for Learning Articles
Alex Case
These tips are given below in the approximate order of how often I tell students and trainee teachers about them- because they are easy to understand, easy to remember or something they are not likely to have heard from other teachers. 1. Always write articles on your vocab list/ the whiteboard/ worksheets For example, tell […]

Things Not to Do with an Interactive Whiteboard
Alex Case
1. Replace all your instructions language with it One of the most useful and genuine pieces of communication in the classroom is the teacher telling the students what to do, and replacing that with written instructions on the board all the time takes away a great source of comprehensible listening. For new teachers, it also […]

Solutions for Mixed Motivation Classes
Alex Case
There are whole books written with theories and tips on teaching mixed level and mixed ability classes. Personally, though, I have found it much more difficult when I have had classes where some students are desperate to improve their English and will do anything to get there and others just see it as a hobby […]

Learner Autonomy Problems and Solutions
Alex Case
The idea that learner autonomy (that students should take responsibility for their own learning) is a good thing seems nearly universal and never to go out of style

Things to Teach About Apologizing
Alex Case
…and how to do it 1. Excuses/reasons In some cultures it is impolite to give a reason why something happened, as this can be seen to be taking away from your apology by giving excuses. This is true in the very strong apology “There is no excuse for what I did”, but generally in English […]

Things to Teach About Sentence Stress and Rhythm
Alex Case
…and how to do it

Classifying Classroom Questions
Alex Case
Analysing the kinds of questions you and teachers generally use in class can be useful for thinking about increasing the amount of English used in class (and therefore cutting down on L1), increasing involvement and speaking time for the students, increasing the variety of interactions and language produced in the classroom, and shaking up your […]

15 Ways of Eliciting Vocabulary
Alex Case
Most of the ideas below can be combined (and in fact need to be!). 1. Opposites This works for certain adjectives, verbs, nouns, adverbs, determiners etc, e.g. “What’s the opposite of dark/ stop/ an idiot/ suddenly/ few?” 2. Ranks, sequences and sliding scales We can extend the idea of giving opposites to include things that could be […]

Good Groupwork Organisation
Alex Case
What are the criteria you should consider in organizing groupwork?

How to Cut Out or Limit L1 Use in Class
Alex Case
15 ways to encourage students to use only English in the classroom.

Putting Students Into Groups
Alex Case
1. Gestures For example: point to pairs of people who should work together while saying “Student A, student B- work together”; use your forearms and open palms to “cut” between people to divide the class up; show the spot on the floor someone should move their seat to; make a sweeping circle motion

More Ways to Boost Your Teaching Confidence
Alex Case
1. A priority Setting a single priority for how to improve your lessons will make the job seem more manageable, make it easier to see improvements, and make it easier to ask for help from your boss and other teachers. Try to make it an aim that is very specific and where the results will […]

15 Ways to Stop Students Translating
Alex Case
The fashion for the use or not of L1 in the classroom and language learning more generally tends to come in waves, and the present trend is to write about how an English-only classroom is unrealistic, non-politically correct or an unfair advantage in the market place for native English speaking teachers. I absolutely accept all […]

Ways to Boost Your Teaching Confidence
Alex Case
1. Read or reread a teaching basics book For example, How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer (rather than The Practice of English Language Teaching, which has got rather complicated since my days on the CTEFLA) or the Oxford Basics Series. This will: give you a boost by showing you how much of that stuff […]

Ideas on Classroom Management in YL Classes
Anita Kwiatkowska
During my career as an ESL teacher I have come across plenty of teachers who dread teaching children. Because they are naughty. Because they cannot concentrate. Because all they want to do is run around and make a lot of noise. Having taught kids for six years now I wholeheartedly agree with all the aforementioned […]

15 Ways of Dealing with Students Who Pause Before They Speak
Alex Case
1. Shadow reading In this well-known activity students try to read aloud along with a recorded dialogue, keeping the same speed and rhythm as the people speaking on the CD. You can then try turning down the volume to zero while they are speaking and turn it back up towards the end of the dialogue […]

15 Ways of Dealing with Pre-experience Business English and ESP Students
Alex Case
This is one of the most common problems for teachers of Business English and English for Specific Purposes (Medical English, Financial English etc) – students who know nothing about their own subject yet and so have as much problem understanding the concepts in the textbook as they do the English language. Here are some ideas […]

15 Ways to Bring Lucky Chances Into Your Classroom and Lesson Planning
Alex Case
According to most books and teacher training courses, making your classes more professional consists mainly of making them more systematic. Most teacher (like many artists or sportsmen) would be happy to admit, however, that many of their best ideas came through some kind of lucky chance or spontaneous interaction, be it a worksheet found in […]

15 More Ways of Using a Book That is Too Low Level for Your Class
Alex Case
1. Prepare for an exam at the same time For example, spend some time on the language and task types of FCE, TOEFL or IELTS. Even if students aren’t going to take the exam, you can justify this by telling them that it will help them really test their level and know their strengths and weaknesses, […]

15 Ways of Coping with a Textbook That is Too Easy
Alex Case
1. Use higher level communication games For example, with a class with an intermediate level textbook take the supplementary activities from Advanced Communication Games. 2. Add exceptions and extra meanings For example, if the book presents “Use any for

Yet Another 15 Ways of Dealing with a Book That is Packed Full of Material
Alex Case
1. Combine the small talk with the classwork If you have a class who want to be asked about their weekend (and that is almost anyone as long as they don’t think it’s a waste of time for language learning purposes) but lack classroom time, try to lead naturally on from that conversation to the […]

15 More Ways to Adapt an Overloaded Textbook
Alex Case
1. Miss out some complications and exceptions For example, cover exactly the same basic syllabus as in the students’ book but leave out things like explaining the difference between “Can I have some tea?” and “Can I have any tea?” etc. 2. Set a fixed time for each unit And then move onto the next […]

15 Ways to Adapt a Textbook with Too Much Stuff in it
Alex Case
1. Leave out a unit or units For example, leave out the first two units of the book because they already know that stuff or leave out the first unit when a new grammar point is introduced as there is a contrasting two tenses (e.g. Present Perfect/ Simple Past) unit later on that does it […]

The Relationship Between Language & Culture and the Implications for Language Teaching
Aubrey Neil Leveridge
The relationship between language and culture is deeply rooted. Language is used to maintain and convey culture and cultural ties. Different ideas stem from differing language use within one’s culture and the whole intertwining of these relationships start at one’s birth.

Common Complaints About TEFL Workshops
Alex Case
… and how to respond to them. As the number of workshops about teaching English I have attended and given is well over a hundred, I’ve heard and made a fair number of complaints over the years and tried to respond to those grumbles when planning the occasional workshops I give now. Below are some […]

Criteria of a Good Needs Analysis
Alex Case
An effective and popular needs analysis: 1. Looks at their needs in many different ways E.g. analyses the language they need by function (complaining, making polite requests etc.), skill (e.g. more emailing than speaking), genre (minutes, reports, job interviews etc), and formality, and analyses other factors such as the nationality they will be speaking to […]

What Makes A Good Free-Speaking Activity?
Thomas Topham
Points to consider in devising free-speaking activities for your students.

Difficulties in Teaching the Language of Describing People
Alex Case
…and how to cope with them 1. What is he like? / What does he like? This can be a classic example of students mastering one form then coming across a form that is similar in some way and the confusion seeming to put them back to zero- which at least we can say is […]

Ways to Help Your Students Forget
Alex Case
Although memory is something that is not really given the position of importance that it should be in EFL (how often have you seen a standard lesson plan format that has a “Ways of making the language memorable” or “Types of memory used” box at the top?), helping your students forget is something that is […]

15 Criteria for Kindergarten Worksheets
Alex Case
Choosing a good worksheet is even more difficult for pre-school age students than for other children and adults, as they are not only more likely to find a bad worksheet boring but might also be totally unable to write, draw or read what you what them to. Here are some tips that should

7 Tricks To Help Remember New Words Quickly & Easily
Paul Turner
Words, words, words…so many to learn and it’s so hard to remember them all, let alone use them, right? Well, today I’ve got seven tips that should make learning & remembering new vocabulary easier, faster, more fun, and

Helpful Student-Centered Classroom Management Tips
Aubrey Neil Leveridge
Classroom management tips which work. These have been collected over the years and have proved successful in student-centered teaching.

15 Stages of Using Pre-school English Songs
Alex Case
These stages can be used to introduce the use of songs in your pre-school classes for the first time (especially useful if you are not used to using them) or as the stages to use with a particular song that is new to you and/ or your class so that you can introduce a song […]

First 15 Stages of Using Worksheets in Pre-school English Classes
Alex Case
1. Colour anyhow Very young children will colour a picture without paying any attention to the colour of the real thing it represents nor to the lines that are supposed to mark its limits. As these things will develop naturally with the help of practice in their other classes, there is no need to push […]

15 Ways to Personalize Your Young Learner Classes
Alex Case
Personalization (making sure students can use the language to talk about themselves) is commonly accepted as a vital part of language learning, but it is one that often gets lost with low level classes or when the students are far away from the teacher in age and so chatting about themselves is not straightforward. It […]

15 Criteria for a Good Kindergarten English Song
Alex Case
1. Memorable For children who can’t yet read in English and don’t live in English speaking countries, singing English songs to themselves is about the only practice they can get outside class without the help of their parents. Ways of making this happen include using a song with a catchy tune, using a seasonal

6 Ways to SHUT UP
Thomas Topham
Essential techniques to help your students speak more and you speak less. Required reading for all TEFL teachers

15 Criteria for a Good TEFL Workshop
Alex Case
1. Makes teachers’ lives easier tomorrow As much as we might know going to workshops is a good idea and have examples of ones we have left energised and inspired by, if they mean giving up time off when we are run down for any reason the resulting tiredness could mean that our lessons on […]

15 Reasons Why PPP is so Unfashionable
Alex Case
Anyone who has ever taught using the technique of presenting the language, practising it in a controlled way and then giving students the chance to use it in a free communication production activity will know that it is far from

Transform Your Teaching by Tapping Into Different ESL Learning Styles
Shelley Vernon
We are all individuals and we do not take new information on in the same way. ESL language learners are no different. The traditional classroom teaching techniques often leave students struggling with concepts and unable to make progress. Many students feel frustrated or that they have reached a plateau

Cool Corporate English Consciousness
Dante Cuevas
Giving your corporate classes the best approach Teaching in today’s EFL corporate classroom requires a “Cool Corporate English Consciousness”. Because of the great emergence of multinational companies and globalization there has been a surging demand for corporate English training all around the world (English has long ago been established as the standard language for international […]

The Chairperson
Glenn Huntley
A technique to give responsibility, and make English purposeful This technique is probably an extension of what many Business-English teachers have already been doing for a long time when they teach meeting skills, though with a special emphasis on the chairperson’s role. This method can, however, be applied to a much wider range of situations […]

Fluency Versus Accuracy
Stefan Chiarantano
The value of fluency in teaching young learners I’d like to share with you my experience with teaching young learners. Perhaps it may spark some thoughts for you in your context. I believe that the role of the EFL teacher is to encourage, motivate, stimulate and even lessen the anxiety of learning a foreign language, […]

Stefan Chiarantano
Examples of words that mimic the sounds they make I was having coffee with a colleague when he suddenly asked me if I knew the word in Spanish for dog. “Pero”, I said. He was surprised. From there, the conversation led to onomatopoeic words and their relevance in teaching language, and thus, the topic for […]

Teaching Absolute Beginners
Michael Curry
Overcoming difficulties with children who are completely new to English

Top Teaching Banana Skins (and How to Avoid Them)
Alex Case
Solutions to the top three teaching mistakes