Key to motivated students and classroom management

When I came to China as an inexperienced new teacher, I was ready for an adventure. I’d completed all the modules in my TEFL courses and felt like I had learned a lot, but I was worried about classroom management. The thought buzzed around my head like a fly as I sat on the plane, and it felt like I was staring at me in the mirror as I brushed my teeth before my first day at school. I was determined to get this one aspect of teaching “right” because good classroom management can greatly enrich your experience as a teacher, and a well-functioning classroom increases the amount of information the children can learn from you. Designing the Reward System: Finding Your Style During my first week, I watched my Chinese coworkers during their classes and realized that I wanted to have a more relaxed style than they did in the classroom. I wanted students to take risks and feel like we were working toward English mastery as a common goal. I spoke to experienced foreign teachers in the area and m…

5 life skills gained from teaching ESL

So, you’re wondering what to put on your resume after a year or more of teaching ESL – especially if the career you’re looking to move into is completely unrelated to teaching. Well, good news: teaching ESL gives you so many useful experiences and skills that apply to just about any situation you may find yourself in. Here are five examples of life skills you’ll learn as an ESL teacher that will carry over into whatever you do next in life.


As an English teacher, you’re literally a pro at communicating and connecting with people. Think about how many times you’ll find yourself standing in front of a group of kids with very little common language, and with all the responsibility for teaching and keeping them engaged for an hour or more. Communication is more than just knowing how to creatively express your thoughts, too. It’s understanding how to express things diplomatically and tactfully, without offending or upsetting anyone – and you’re guaranteed to get plenty of practic…

How to teach preschoolers - preschool games and activities

Preschool is so much fun. It can be difficult to teach a second language to children still trying to grasp their own and who cannot yet read. It can also be really enjoyable because these students have the flexibility to learn languages more quickly and are usually very enthusiastic.
How to Teach PreschoolersActivitiesKeep everything as simple and short as possible. These students do not have long attention spans and are easily distracted so you should try to be the most interesting thing in the room at all times. Students may also have a hard time sitting still during class so plan activities that let them move around. Simon Says is excellent for preschoolers. You can also have them make groups with the same number of people as the number you say aloud so if you say “Four” students have to make groups of four. This is another very fun, fast moving, and active game. With decks of vocabulary cards that have pictures instead of words, students can play simple games in small groups. A ver…

What activities get my students to talk?

What should you do in class? Really, it doesn’t matter. Just keep in mind: to improve your students’ spoken English, you must get them to talk. If you adhere to this principle, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Let your imagination run wild. Your students will make progress, you’ll have more fun, and the entire field of TEFL stands to benefit. That said, there are some standard “spoken English class activities” that I’d like to sort of “review” here. Note that never do I say “you should use this activity” or “you shouldn’t use this activity.” You should just keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of each kind to get the most out of them, possibly creating your own variations to maximize advantages and minimize disadvantages. Any of these activities could be a huge success for you. SSONGSI’ll admit, I’m a bit biased against doing songs in class because I can’t sing. Chinese students are always asking me to sing (and they’ll do the same to you!), and I always refuse them. They don’t re…

200 Common phrasal verbs with meanings and example sentences

Phrasal verbs are an important part of learning the English language. Most phrasal verbs consist of two words (verb + adverb or verb + preposition) but a few consists of three words. Think of them as you would any other English vocabulary. Study them as you come across them, rather than trying to memorise many at once. You can use the list below as a reference guide when you find an expression that you don’t recognise. The examples will help you understand the meanings. Like many other verbs, phrasal verbs often have more than one meaning.
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200 phrasal verbs with meanings
Phrasal VerbMeaningExampleAct onTo take action because of something like information received.The police were ACTING ON a tip from an informer and caught the gang red-handed.Act outPerform something with actions and gestures..They ACTED OUT the story on stage.Act upBehave badly or strangely.My computer’s ACTING UP; I think I might have a virus.Add onInclude in a calculation.You have to ADD th…