Mark Beales

Experienced teacher and author of 'Teaching English' (How to Teach English as a Second Language)


Expect the unexpected

Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow and stop asking questions.

Staffrooms vary from school to school and from country to country. Some local teachers will go out of their way to show you around; others may barely acknowledge your existence.


An overview of teaching writing skills

Focus on the basics first!

Writing can take many forms, and it’s good to create lessons that show students the differences. A letter to your bank manager is likely to be pretty different from one to your girl or boyfriend, while an e-mail to a mate is probably not written the same in tone as a job application.


Teaching reading skills to your students

Teaching reading can be tricky. There always has to be a reason for the students to read something.

Reading, like any activity, needs to be introduced properly. Begin a class by presenting your students with a chapter from Harry Potter and telling them ‘read this’ will result in blank stares. Ask your students to tell you five words associated with Harry Potter and you’ve got the start of a lesson.


Longer classroom activities

Here is a selection of tried and trusted longer activities that are much than just lesson-fillers and warmers.

Activities for all ages and levels including role-plays, debates, grammar focus and some simply to get students using their imaginations.


How to make lessons interesting (warmers)

A good selection of warmers and lesson-fillers for a teacher to keep up their sleeve

Warmers are an important part of a lesson. They aren’t just there to fill time while you figure out what page they’re on today. A simple warmer should be either used to review the previous lesson or set the scene for the day’s class. If done well, students become interested and are then easily led into the main task.


Regaining control of your classroom

Some discipline tips for when things start to go pear-shaped

The famous yellow and red card system is often a winner. Get some coloured cards and every time a student is bad, present them with a yellow card, football-style. Two yellows equal a red and a punishment. Works especially well in all-boy schools.


Learning difficulties

Dealing with students that have special needs

If you get the chance to talk to the teacher you’re replacing, ask them if there is anyone to look out for with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in the class. Otherwise, you could be in for a shock.


Discipline in Thai Schools

How to deal with unruly students, cultural differences to watch out for and more.....

Sooner or later you will come up against students who would prefer to play up than knuckle down. Even in the best of classes, discipline is always something a teacher needs to be aware of.


More on lesson planning

looking at three lesson components; warmer, lesson stages and plenary.

With a little bit of practice, lesson planning will become second-nature and, once you have everything in place, the actual teaching side of things will also become a whole lot easier - and more rewarding.


The importance of planning lessons

Planning lessons also includes seating arrangements don't forget.

Get a notebook and jot down how you see your lesson going in your head, from the warmer to the presentation to the summary. This doesn’t mean you’re teaching by numbers; it just gives you a basic framework.


On entering the classroom

On your first day as a teacher, winging it is not an option.

The best way to be confident is to be prepared. Have a broad idea of how your first few lessons are going to go. If you can get hold of a lesson plan or course book beforehand, then wonderful. If not, at least have a ‘getting to know you’ type of lesson up your sleeve.


Ways of teaching

Do you know your TBL from your ESA and CLT?

Great debates rage as to whether PPP is outdated, if TPR works for everyone and if ESA is really PPP in disguise. The good news is that the basics remain simple – keep students entertained and give them a chance to use what they are learning.


How do students learn?

Creating a variety of lessons that will appeal to most of your students

Theory often comes near the bottom of the pile when it comes to teaching, but there are several things worth knowing about how people learn and how best you can teach them.


There's a wide range of students out there

Who would you prefer to teach - young kids, teenagers or adults?

Some students are eager, some are recalcitrant; some students are delightful, some are dire. However, the good news is that to a large extent the kind of student you get is related to the kind of teacher you are.


The good, the bad and the downright unlucky

The different kinds of foreign teachers who end up teaching in Thailand

Wherever you end up teaching, the chances are that you are going to be alongside people you'd never normally work with, which can make the whole experience more memorable, one way or another.


The TEFL job interview and what makes a good teacher?

Getting past the interview stage and deciding what roles to play in the classroom.

Think back to your favourite teacher at school. What was it that made him or her stand out? Chances are if you ask 10 people this, they’d come up with broadly similar qualities.


Don't get too upset with the job ads

Thailand's employers can be brutally direct about who they want to hire

It’s worth being aware that some schools are pretty fussy about what they are looking for. Glance at any jobs section of a newspaper and you’ll notice that such pedantry is common.


What will my school be like?

An overview of different types of institute in Thailand and the students who go to them

At the highest echelon are the international schools. Internationals are nearly always based on the British or American curricula, and employ career teachers.


Getting started as an English teacher

A quick overview of TEFL certificates, degrees, work permits and visas

If you didn’t go to university, don’t pretend that you did. You may be able to bluff your way through an interview and produce a certificate upon which the ink has just dried; however, all it takes is one phone call to immigration and you won’t just lose your job, you could lose your freedom.


Why become an English teacher?

A job that brings challenges and rewards every single day

When it comes to picking your dream job, some options just leap out at you. Wine taster, travel writer, movie critic: who wouldn’t fancy any of those? Teaching, on the other hand, is a more maligned profession.


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