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  8 TIPS for teaching  pre - intermediate students / taken from English File 1 Teacher's Book / Oxford University Press/

  1. Teaching elementary learners often involves 're-motivating your students'

The high level of motivation that characterizes beginner groups can often fall slowly away in students' second year of English.

Beginner groups have in-built motivation: everything is new, progress is rapid and visible. In the second year, disenchantment can easily set in: the novelty wears off, the sacrifice of time and effort is made less willingly, progress seems slower, and the size of the task they have undertaken can begin to seem insurmountable. As students' knowledge increases, so does the effort required to remember everything. The introduction of more complicated tenses and concepts inevitably makes learning less straightforward and progress less measurable to the learner. Group dynamics, so important to the morale of a class, may diminish as some students leave and others take their place, changing the class atmosphere. 'It isn't the same as last year' is a complaint familiar to teachers of students in their second year of English.

So, you will need to spend time and effort trying to maintain students' enthusiasm and 're-motivate' those students who begin to 'run out of steam'.

  1. Be aware of your students' needs and interests

If you don't know your students already find out straight away why they are learning English, where they've learnt previously and what problems they have. Do they have a very particular aim, e.g. to pass a written exam or to travel to an English-speaking country?

  1. Have clear realistic aims and share them with your students

Make the aims of the course very clear. Adult students in particular want to know where they're going, what they're going to learn, and what they'll be able to do by the end of the course. If possible, use a progress chart to help students monitor their progress and see what new grammar and vocabulary has been and will be studied.

Have a clear aim too in each lesson and tell students what they're going to learn. Explain the aim of a particular exercise, e.g. in a speaking exercise to practise oral fluency explain that the emphasis is on communication and not to worry about making mistakes.

Try to move forward at a speed which is realistic for the majority of your students - don't get pulled along too quickly by a few stronger ones.

  1. Be sensitive to your students and create a supportive class atmosphere

Learn your students' names and find out what you can about them. Make sure students learn each other's names too and that they change partners regularly so they all know something about each other. Nominate a 'handout partner' for each student. They can collect handouts when the other is absent and pass on homework instructions to each other. Eye contact in class is very important - include everyone as you speak. Respond to students both individually and collectively. Try to talk to students individually sometime in the break. It's a good idea to set aside one class per term to counsel your students individually and to discuss their progress.

Try to create a class atmosphere which is fun but also positive and businesslike. Be sensitive to the atmosphere of the class during a lesson. Are the students tense or bored? Are you overloading them or letting an activity go on too long?

  1. Praise and encourage

Students need to be told that they have done an activity well, even if it's only pronouncing a word correctly. It's vital too for individual and class motivation that you instill a sense of achievement and progress. This is arguably more important at second year than first, especially when students begin to lose motivation. It's easy to let this aspect of your teaching slip as the course goes on. Emphasize progress, reminding students of how well they're doing and how much more they know compared to a year ago. Students need to feel they are moving forward and that you care about their progress.

  1. Adapt to suit your situation

No two teaching situations are the same. Adapt, personalize, and localize the course to suit your students. Spend more time on structures and sounds which students have problems with because of L1 interference. Use the names of locally-famous people, events, and places to generate interest and humour. Adults may respond better to a light-hearted, humorous approach than adolescents who will need a tighter rein.

  1. Make sure students come to class

Beware of attendance drop-off as motivation levels out. Elementary students sometimes feel that they can 'afford' to miss a class in the way that beginners don't. Patchy attendance is very negative for class morale and class progress. Insist on the importance of coming to every class and ask students to warn you if they are going to have to miss a lesson. Try to find out why students have been missing classes. Sometimes a quiet word after class makes the difference between a student giving up or carrying on.

  1. Explain your methods

Tell students why you are doing what you're doing. New students may not be used, for example, to working in pairs or even talking in English to other learners. Be aware of different learning strategies. Not everyone learns in the same way, so try to vary your techniques and discuss and explore learning strategies with your class. If you leave out activities or lessons, explain to your students that there is a reason behind it.


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