5 tips for ESL teachers who are new to the classroom

Being an ESL teacher about to set foot in the classroom for the first time can be a little bit overwhelming – especially if you are teaching overseas! It’s hard to know what to expect as each classroom is different, but today we’ll be sharing a few tips for new teachers, what will hopefully help you settle into the classroom and become the best teacher you can be.

Use metaphors and illustrations that they’ll understand

In a way, the art of teaching has something in common with marketing. The main thing that compels young children to learn faster and more enthusiastically is the same thing that compels people to try well-marketed products: relevance. Using relatable images and metaphors will give the students a much easier time digesting your lesson.

Ask active questions that invite deeper input

Don’t just ask students what the answers are. Ask students to explain their thought process, and get to know the way they logically piece things together. Not only does this improve participation, but it will help you know them better too.

School plan board
Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

Clearly communicate your biggest rules and commit to them

Though you naturally want the class to trust you and enjoy your lessons, as a teacher, you are still an authority figure. It is your responsibility to take initiative in establishing the frame of the environment, or the children will do it themselves. Some of the more rebellious or mischievous students may go out of their way to push the boundaries you set as tensile test of your resolve, and when this happens, it’s important to firmly demonstrate that the boundaries are to be respected. It’s also important to have a plagiarism discussion to make sure students know they are expected to submit original work and not something they’ve copied off the internet.

Try to identify what the students’ individual strengths are, and positively reinforce those strengths

It will take more than just the first class to understand each of the students’ unique talents, but from the moment that they introduce themselves, be on the lookout for when they share or unconsciously show their innate gifts. Use honest positive reinforcement of their gifts to motivate them, and think of ways that their gifts might be translated into ways that they could excel in the classroom.

Ask for advice from teachers with more experience at the school

Don’t hesitate to reach out to senior teachers and ask if they’d be willing to give you a crash course in their most successful techniques and strategies. Try to establish positive relationships with your fellow faculty members, learn a bit about all of their different styles, and see if there are common denominators.


You won’t just be teaching facts, but molding minds and serving as a prominent formative adult figure in multiple lives. Immerse yourself in the journey, and being an ESL teacher might even teach you something that you never expected.

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