Advice for an English Language Assistant abroad

I offered an ELA abroad some advice. Being in a bit of a rush, what I wrote was not thought through as much as it might have been, although it drew on my own experience of being an English Language Assistant to teenagers in a lycée in Paris a few years ago. I thought it worth sharing because I think it’s quite revealing about (a) the problems I had, and (b) what I think is manageable for a new teacher in a short amount of time. I’d be very interested in your responses.

Start your lessons the same way each time with a short task that gets them working on their own, head down. Egs: phrase match up/ translation task/ quiz on previous lesson/ questionnaire (especially for first lesson). They build up a routine with you and this allows you to sort out any issues at the start of lessons because the other kids know what to do.

Stand square on in the middle of the room. Don’t rock to and fro on your feet. Don’t shout. Smile when they are being good. Raise your eyebrows and confront those who are messing around. Say thank you for following your instructions.

Set up a simple routine for getting silence. Egs: “3-2-1 silence look this way” or raise your hand up straight and stand still until they look at you. Explain to them explicitly what you expect from them when you do this, and then practice it, then praise them for doing it right.

Have a clipboard with you when you teach with their names on it so you can log how many contributions they are making. Also makes you more authoritative and in control.

Aim to teach a small amount to mastery, rather than a large amount.

Have a medium-term plan (over about 6 lesson) so there is continuity – what words/phrases/topic do you want them to learn over half a term? How will you test it at the end? Write it out, decide on it, share it with them.

Focus on them getting good at things, don’t worry about making it “fun” yet – that will come as they experience success with you…and because you are who you are, and because you’re novel, it will be fun already.

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3 thoughts on “Advice for an English Language Assistant abroad

  1. Pingback: Lost in Translation? Simple tips for teaching English abroad » The Brilliant Club

  2. Pingback: Uncommon Schools Training – practising to perform » The Brilliant Club

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