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Teaching English? 10 Ways to Become a Better Teacher

Teaching has a reputation for being an under appreciated occupation. Thankfully in Hong Kong, teaching English is a career often viewed with respect, helping to make the job all the more worthwhile and satisfying. Of course, no measure of job satisfaction for an English teacher can compare to knowing your students enjoy their lessons and are making strides in their foreign language skills. For passionate teachers, education is a continual process, not just for students but for the teachers as well. Here are 10 ways you can improve teaching skills and become an even better English teacher than you already are.

1. Find different ways to teach a new lesson or concept. Everyone learns differently; some students learn better with visual cues while others learn with greater ease if they are allowed to apply it in real-world situations. To ensure more students are grasping new concepts and lessons, try employing a variety of ways to present the material to your class. 
2. Be approachable. Students can often be shy or afraid to ask questions in front of their peers. Present a friendly, approachable demeanor so that students can feel comfortable reaching out for assistance when they need it. Be sure to offer open office hours for students to meet with you in private for any questions or concerns that they might have.

3. Make learning fun. Learning English is often a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be boring or something to trudge through. By making your English lessons fun and engaging, your students will be more motivated to learn the subject matter. Some ways that you can make learning fun include playing games and turning activities into contests with positive reinforcements like prizes or additional game time. 

4. Prepare in advance for class. Coming into class with the misguided notion that youcan just “wing” a lesson is never a good idea. If you fail to prepare in advance for classes, your students will notice and your “laissez-faire” attitude towards teaching will rub off on them in their learning. By preparing lessons and materials prior to class, you show students that you’re serious about teaching and that sets the tone so that they will be serious about learning. 

5. Encourage verbal practice. Learning a new language requires the use and practice of different regions of the brain. Oftentimes, teachers can forget to utilise all aspects of learning. With English, it’s easy to focus on the correct grammar and developing vocabulary while overlooking verbal practice. Help students gain confidence with their verbal ability by rotating practice and conversational activities regularly throughout the curriculum.

6. Put technology to good use in your lesson plan. It’s no secret that Hong Kongers love their technology. Instead of shying away from it, embrace the different ways technology and new media can aid in the learning process. For example, a Brazilian 
school made a splash in 2013 when their grammar lesson consisted of students politely correcting celebrity tweets on Twitter. There’s no limit to the learning opportunities you can take advantage of with the help of technology.

7. Be understandable and forgiving. Learning a new language is one of the hardest undertakings a student can go through so be understanding of their struggles and forgive their mistakes.  

8. Make connections between the lessons and your students’ lives. Studies show that people retain information better when the material has a direct impact on them. Use topics that affect your students’ daily lives in your lesson plan and help them connect the dots to how the things they are learning in the classroom will benefit them out in the real world.

9. Challenge your students. Nothing kills the desire to learn more than boredom. In tandem with making sure your students are not feeling overwhelmed with their studies, be sure to keep them challenged and engaged with each new lesson.  

10. Review materials often. It should be part of any teacher’s daily routine to spend the first few minutes of each lesson reviewing the previous lesson’s material and allowing for any remaining questions be asked. Once you’ve determined that everyone has a good grasp on the past material, move onto the next exciting lesson.

Teaching English in Hong Kong is a wonderful, fulfilling occupation. Hold yourself up to the same teaching standards as you do your students in their studies and you will ensure that English class will be everyone’s favorite lesson of the day.