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Learning Communities

Started by Allan Richards in Teaching and Methodology Oct 27. 0 Replies

Hey everyone!I am new to the forum and am curious how you feel learning communities benefit educators when it comes to developing a collective responsibility as educators. Do you feel a forum like…Continue


Started by Christina Shepherd in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Oct 26. 1 Reply

How does implementation help you out throughout the year? I am curious to know what things have worked for you and what things have not worked for you through an implementation standard.  Continue

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 19. 76 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Top 5 Game

Started by susie silver in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 17. 14 Replies

Hi David Maybe its obvious to some but I'm not sure how to play and I also want to create a top 5 game as well. What is the point of it. There are always 5 answers. Do the students guess according to…Continue

Tags: 5, top




How I learned to teach English to non-English speaking students

Starting out in any profession is tough. When you have no formal training, are in a new country that doesn’t speak your language and are suddenly before a classroom of fresh-faced youngsters, things suddenly take on a much more sinister haze.  

Georgia McCann, a fresh arts graduate with no prior teaching experience, found herself precisely in this position when she put her hand up to teach English in Seville, Spain.

The English Language Teaching (ELT) sector is huge. In 2012, around 1,500,000 people travelled to an English speaking country to learn English. But what of those who can’t, or don’t want to move countries to learn the global lingua franca? Amongst the resources available for EFL learners in English-speaking countries, there are plenty of programmes that send budding bilinguals across the world to share their linguistic expertise.

In Spain, demand is just as huge. Until the death of Franco in 1975, French was the primary second language taught in schools. Now that it’s English, there’s some lost ground to cover in staffing quality tutors. Unfortunately, figuring out how to teach is left up to you. Or, as it were, Georgia.  Here’s how she taught herself the art of teaching.

  1. Learn names

It may take some time, but when you make the effort to know the names of your students and actually use them, they will feel more connected to you, and will be more willing to learn.

As a native speaker teaching English as a foreign language, there are already enough barriers to communication: linguistic, cultural, social. Learning names is a (relatively) simple way of helping to breach these barriers and open new channels of communication.

  1. Eye contact! Also smile a lot.

It may seem obvious, but body language is everything. As the teacher, you have to open up every possible avenue for your students to consider you as a person with whom they can communicate, rather than just listen to. Eye contact is essential. Looking at a student in the eyes and smiling further breaches those aforementioned barriers; they recognise that they are important, and are much more likely to engage.

  1. Be yourself

For me, a somewhat anxious-in-front-of-crowds type person, the more open I am with my classes the more I relax. Through embracing my lack of experience and nerves, the more at ease I become and the more my students respond. If they feel like they at least partly know you, they open up in kind.

  1. Show an interest in their language and culture

In doing what I’m doing, you’ll inevitably encounter some resistance by those who couldn’t care less about English. If you demonstrate an interest in who they are, and what they’re trying to say, they will be much more open to you and to learning the language. I find that students, especially young students, often need things to be related to them in order to be interested. Try to ensure that your lessons don’t simply focus on topics foreign to the students. Such an approach can be dense, and a little boring.

  1. Learn to laugh (especially at yourself)

Don’t take yourself, or the learning process, too seriously. If you’re comfortable making some fun of yourself, or making light of the classroom situation, they will in turn feel more comfortable making mistakes (an inevitable and essential part of learning a language).

  1. Start your lessons in a relaxed, pressure-free manner

I always start my lessons with a bit of relaxed conversation. Obviously, the nature of the conversation changes according to the age of my students, but the idea behind it is the same.

I start every lesson with the same bunch of questions, as repetition is one of the keys to learning a language. This tends to relax the students and give them a bit of confidence. If they feel like they can understand things then they’re more willing to try throughout the class.

  1. Walk around the room: don’t simply stand at the front of the class

In a class of 25, at times it can be impossible to interact with everyone. It’s very easy to just teach those who are outgoing, and forget those who are shy. Make an effort to move your way around the room and try to work with everyone.

  1. Don’t apply the same strategy to all students

Again, this sounds obvious, but speaks volumes in practice: everyone learns differently. I try to target my teaching to everyone individually as I get to know them. It can seem almost impossible at times, but I’ve found that as I’ve stuck at it it’s become easier to figure out how to connect with a specific student.

  1. Figure out your own strengths and weaknesses

In the beginning, my ‘strategy’ was to not really have a strategy. I had no experience and so tried to just be myself. I pretty much ‘winged’ it, until I was able to take a look at myself and put a finger on my own limitations.

You need to be honest with yourself, and confident in working to fix your shortcomings. If you don’t trust what you’re saying, your class won’t, either. You can’t just copy others, because they’ll see right through that, too.  Learn what you’re good at, and then work with it.

  1. But take advice

Pay attention to other, perhaps more seasoned teachers, and steal their ideas. They won’t mind. I found this particularly important when learning how to teach English as a foreign language. It is a particular form of communication, and it’s very important to watch how it’s done in order to get a sense of what you should be doing.

In Spain, the methods of teaching are completely different to what I experienced growing up in Australia. Listening to the teachers and watching how they interacted with their students taught me a lot.


Georgia McCann is currently teaching years 1 through 6 at C.E.I.P. El Algarrobillo in Seville, Spain. After just one academic year working as a teacher, she seeks to pursue the profession upon her eventual return to Australia.  

Georgia McCann is currently teaching years 1 through 6 at C.E.I.P. El Algarrobillo in Seville, Spain. After just one academic year working as a teacher, she seeks to pursue the profession upon her eventual return to Australia.  

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