Mistakes New EFL Teachers Make

Talking too much

In an EFL class, what is the most common reason students are enrolled? They want to SPEAK English! And what happens when the teacher speaks most of the time? They don’t have enough chances to actually practice their speaking skills. Those who are new to EFL teaching often make this very crucial mistake: They take up too much of the talking time, either because they feel uncomfortable around silence or long pauses, or because they are over-enthusiastic to share their knowledge. So clearly, hogging most of the talking time is out of the question. But, how to find the right balance between student talking time and teacher talking time?

As a general rule of thumb, students should speak for 70% of the class time, while teachers speak for the remaining 30%. These percentages could be tweaked in cases where students are absolute beginners (50-50), or at the other end of the spectrum, very advanced learners in need of intensive speaking practice (90-10). This means that in most cases, your participation should be limited to giving instructions and explaining essential points, but above all to eliciting response from students and facilitating all types of speaking activities.


Inconsistent classroom management

This is one of the mistakes that is often made due to a lack of experience. Classroom management is not an exact science; it’s not like teaching grammar. Each group of student is different and rules must be set as a group. The problem stems from the fact that new teachers may not have a clearly defined teaching style. So, they either become too strict or too lax. There are plenty of articles you can read on effective classroom management; you may agree with some of the techniques, you may disagree with others and choose to implement your own. It’s not about being stricter, but rather being consistent. There’s nothing worse for a group of students than empty promises or weak threats. Once you define how you’ll manage your class, stick to it!


Forgetting cultural differences

Some teachers are so focused on teaching things about the English culture, they completely ignore their students’. Some gestures EFL teachers commonly use in the classroom, like the gesture for OK, may be very rude in other cultures. In some countries, students may be used to lecturing, and may not react positively when you propose a game. This is a mistake EFL teachers make above all in foreign countries where the culture is very different from Western culture, like Arabic or Oriental cultures. Learn about their customs, especially greetings, and use this information to create a positive learning environment.


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