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The Differences Between Teaching Live and Teaching Online

POSTED ON October 9th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Teaching, according to Britannica is “the profession of those who give instruction especially in an elementary or a secondary school or in a university”.  Teaching is a significant job that helps create an impact on the lives of others and its history can be traced to Confucius (561 B.C.) – the first private teacher in history.  In term of numbers, teaching is regarded as the world’s largest profession and according to statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 68.8 million teachers will be needed over the next 14 years in order to provide every child with basic primary and secondary education.

Live teaching in classroom

Source: Unsplash

Over the years, teaching has evolved from being done in a typical classroom or auditorium setting based on a strict schedule to the modern day use of technology for communicating ideas, getting access to materials and planning lessons. Indeed, the way we learn has transformed and, in this article, I’ll share the differences between teaching live and teaching online.

Student Enrollment

Student enrollment is higher during online teaching and this is simply due to the fact that access to internet irrespective of location is all that is needed. The anonymity of students of online learning is also an advantage because most learners who are shy or disabled are brave enough to participate in the virtual classroom. The teacher is also able to reach a higher number of people which otherwise would have required a larger auditorium and teaching assistants to manage the crowd.  Professor Daphne Koller – the founder of Coursera in her TED talk gave an example using the Machine Learning class (a big class) which typically has about 400 students enrolled every time it’s offered but when it was offered to the public online, 100,000 learners enrolled.


Teaching live requires the teacher to only explain the materials in a classroom environment and when needed, divide the students into groups in order to make the activities run smoothly. In an online classroom, the teacher has to rely on virtual classroom and eLearning conferencing tools to run the activities smoothly and as such he/she incurs the additional responsibility of providing technical help when problems arise during a course.


Getting feedback from the students is also relatively easier in a traditional classroom as this can be evaluated visually (based on the look on students’ faces) as opposed to the use of questionnaires, online polls and breaking lessons into chunks to check that students are engaged during the course.

Teaching online on Preply

Source: My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

Student Engagement

Both modes of learning require discipline and motivation from the student, however more is required during online learning and the teacher has to devise creative ways to keep the students glued to the end. Online teachers have to pay more attention to personal interaction (via emails and chats) with their students, get them talking with the rest of the class, provide ongoing encouragement and other incentives to keep them committed.

Preparation of Syllabus

As opposed to traditional teaching where the syllabus can be prepared as the term/semester progresses, for online teaching the entire syllabus has to be prepared and ready before the learners begin the course. This is simply because learners determine the pace of learning when taking online courses and having the entire syllabus ready before starting the course will help them plan better.


Teachers have the opportunity to earn more when they explore online teaching opportunities. This is simply because a wider audience can be reached irrespective of their location. You can sign up a part-time tutor via platforms like Preply and increase income from the convenience of your laptop without having to be physically present in a traditional classroom.

In summary, despite the differences between teaching live and online teaching, both methods can be used to attain significant results. Although online learning requires a lot of independence and discipline, it engages a diverse group of learners because of the convenience and flexibility it offers and attracts non-traditional learners such as parents, working students, military personnel etc. It’s also worthy to note that in the fast-changing globalized world we currently live in, more people are embracing online education as a way to improve skills, learn a language etc. So, what about you? what do you think about both methods? Do let us know in the comment section.

Teaching Adults English: Tips for Teaching Business English

POSTED ON August 28th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Teaching Business English has some similarities to teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL); however, there are also some differences. If you are here, reading this article, you are on the right track as we are going to explore their similarities and differences by discussing 6 tips for teaching Business English.

1. Set Motivations and Goals

As with teaching general EFL, in Business English is it also important to know what your business students’ motivation is for learning English as well as their goals; i.e. what do they want to achieve.

For any Business English class, remember that your students are busy adults who deal with working towards goals as part of their daily work life; therefore, at the start of the course, your students need to be clear (with themselves and you) about what they would like to achieve realistically. But what does this mean? The answer: Break down their goals into skills, like writing more effective emails, how to better chair meetings or take minutes, and so forth. Use the needs of your students to set clear goals and also share the ‘needs analysis’ and use it to keep your students both motivated and engaged.

2. Be Business-Like

In teaching English as a Foreign language, and especially if you have young learners, you might find that you are or can be a ‘crazy’ teacher, super energetic, and try to get your students to laugh while you teach and they learn. In teaching Business English, you still need to have a good energy in the class while teaching; however, you also need to be very professional (read business-like) as you are teaching business professionals. This is not only for how you teach in class, but extends to what you wear, your behaviour, as well as what you say – in and out of class. And whether you are working in-company or not, you need to be punctual, competent, and professional.

3. Not a Teacher, but a Colleague

In any general EFL classroom, you, as the teacher, are seen as superior to your students. This is not necessarily true for your Business English class, as being or acting ‘superior’ might not be the best approach to teaching and gaining respect from your students. Similar to in the workplace, colleagues work together to achieve objectives; in this case, the goal is language learning and improving Business English skills. Your Business English students might be more receptive and more willing to work with you and towards their goals of becoming more proficient in Business English if you treat them as equals and as the professionals they are.

But still, even professional students want to have fun from time to time: Adults Want to Have Fun, Too! (Games for Beginners)

4. Assess Your Students

Not all of your Business English students will start their learning journey with you at the same level. Some students might be both beginners in general English and for any business-related English skills, while others might be at an intermediate level in general English and just lack Business English knowledge. Therefore, it would be a good idea to take time at the start of your journey with your students and do an assessment to see just how competent or proficient they are in the English language. Get some ideas on how to do so here.

5. Lessons to Fit Profession

A fifth tip for teaching Business English is to keep in mind that any business professional who studies English does so for a specific purpose that is directly tied to their profession. Thus, it is important that every lesson you teach relates to your students’ specific business environment. So, when you can, try to make use of actual business memos, proposals, charts, and manuals.

6. Be Flexible

You should be aware that your Business English learners could have high expectations and they might ask for (and expect) classes during their lunchtime, at the end of their workday, or even before they start work. In addition, due to unforeseen business-related problems or situations, they might have to cancel class at the last minute. This can be frustrating as work is (and should be) their priority. Therefore, to reduce stress on your end, negotiate for some kind of cancellation policy with the company or with your student if you teach individuals.

Furthermore, you may not always have the same number of students attending each and every class – you might have as many as 8 students in one Business English class and as few as one or two students. It is good if you can anticipate this – make sure that every class for would work for the maximum and the minimum number of students you can expect.

Bonus Tip

Student talking time in a Business English class should be much higher than in a general English class, and as such, it is good to make sure that there are more than enough opportunities for your students to do speaking practice and work on tasks collaboratively. Leave reading and writing for self-study and/or homework.

Still need help teaching adults? Maybe check this out: 3 Differences between Teaching Children and Adults

Last Thoughts

As you can see, Business English has many similarities with general EFL, from knowing your students’ motivations and goals to making lessons contextual, as well as differences in the times expected to teach, short cancellation notices, and that you should be more of a colleague than a (superior) EFL teacher. Nevertheless, by using these tips for teaching Business English, you can make your classes successful!

Want more teaching tips? Visit our Teaching Tips blog. Are you a teacher looking for a new opportunity? Visit our recruitment arm at Saxoncourt Recruitment.

About the Author

Denine Walters currently works in the events industry and freelances as an EFL teacher, writer, and proofread/editor. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world, and before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In what free time she has, she likes to travel, watch Netflix, read, and do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes.

5 More Games That Every TEFL Teacher Should Know

POSTED ON August 14th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Whether you’re a newbie teacher or have been imparting your knowledge for years, you can always do with some extra games up your sleeve! Following on from our article ‘Top 5 games that every TEFL teacher should know’, here we have 5 more games that you can introduce to your language lessons. Whether you teach children or adults, high level or low level, you’ll find a game you can implement.


This is one simple game that can be used for a great variety of vocabulary sets and is adaptable to suit different ages and levels. The basic principle is to think of words in different categories that start with different letters. For example, you might have recently studied animals with your class and want them to brainstorm some of their new vocabulary words. You might give them the letters C, F and T and they’ll come up with Cat, Frog and Tiger. One way to run the game is to have one category (for example, animals) and get students to find one word for each letter of the alphabet – it can be tricky for letters like X, Y and Z! If your students are lower level, just choose a few letters to work with. Another way to do it is to pick several categories (for example; animals, food, body parts) and then just one or two letters (B – bear, brownie, brain). For higher level students, you can have several letters and several categories, or make it harder by giving the students blends that the word has to start with (th, sh, ch, ca, bu…) or the letter that a word ends with. This makes a great activity for pair work or teamwork.

Age/Level: From A2 up to C2+, and great for teens and adults but can also work with middle school children.

Stage of lesson: Good for a warmer to recap, or as a cooler at the end of the class.

Prep/Props: You can get printable tables online, make one yourself or ask students to draw one. You can also prepare a bag of scrabble tiles / letters on paper to pick which letters to use.

Easy Board Games

The area so many simple board games that you can use in your classroom and most of them can be used for all ages and levels. Here are just a few ideas: Hangman is a great way to review vocabulary and practice spelling. Pictionary can be played on a whiteboard as a class, on mini whiteboards in teams, or on pieces of paper. It’s a fun way to review language. Dice Throw Dictation is a great way to create a quirky picture as a class. If you’re reviewing body parts vocabulary, draw a monster on the board and roll the dice for each body part you draw – three eyes, six legs, two noses… To review farm animals, draw a farm with a dice throw for each item – six farmers, one cow, five cats… Be creative!

Age/Level: Any level and age, but particularly good for younger learners.

Stage of lesson: A fun warmer, great to review between activities, or as a cooler at the end of the lesson.

Prep/Props: Whiteboard and pens

Get the most out of your whiteboard: How’s Your Board Work?

Party Games

Remember the games you used to play at children’s birthday parties? Those can make great activities for your ESL classes. Simon Says is a fun way to let a student lead an activity, to get creative and recap language learnt. Musical chairs/statues might not practice a whole lot of language speaking, but it’s good fun and gets the kids moving. You can also adapt it to practice language – when a student is out, ask them to make a sentence using the target language. Duck, Duck, Goose is obviously great for getting students to practice farmyard animal vocab, but you can also adapt it to whatever you’ve taught recently. Why not ‘cat, cat, pig’ or ‘pizza, pizza, hotdog’ or ‘fireman, fireman, doctor’? What’s Missing? Is a great game to use realia with – prepare a tray with different items, then secretly take one away for students to guess which one.

Age/Level: Great for lower levels, and for young children up to early teens.

Stage of lesson: Great for warmers and coolers, or for livening up a class that is going a bit flat.

Prep/Props: Depends on the game.


Another game with very little prep which can be adapted to your lessons. To review recent vocabulary, ask students to act something out for their peers to guess. You can prepare flashcards or slips of paper with items to choose from, and they can pick out of a hat to make it random. Ideas include – acting out different jobs, action verbs, collocations, different animals… be creative!

Age/Level: Middle-grade kids up to adults.

Stage of lesson: A great way to review.

Prep/Props: Slips of paper with charade hints.


What could be simpler than answering a question? Well, if you’ve played the Yes/No game, you’ll know it isn’t as easy as it sounds! Students need to ask each other questions and can’t reply using the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s a good idea to start by brainstorming alternative responses, such as: maybe, sometimes, I couldn’t say, not often, I’m not sure… Make it more difficult by saying that each response needs to be unique.

Age/Level: Good for teens and adults.

Stage of lesson: A fun warmer.

Prep/Props: No prep required!

Want more teaching tips? Check out our Teaching Tips blog. Or if you’re looking for a teaching job, visit our recruitment division at

About the Author

Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer and TEFL-trained English teacher who spent five years teaching in Asia. She specialises in travel writing and writing for children, and has a penchant for knitting. Celia is the author of Knitted Sushi (easy knitting patterns for beginners) and Ben and Maki – Let’s be Friends (an English/Japanese bilingual picture book). To contact Celia about freelancing work, check out her Upwork profile or contact Celia through her website.

Top 5 Games That Every TEFL Teacher Should Know

POSTED ON July 31st  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Every TEFL teacher has their favourite games and activities that they use time and time again. There are many games which are better suited to certain age groups (or even certain nationalities!) but there are also games which can be adapted to suit any learner group. When you’re starting out, learn as many new games as you can to get a good foundation to choose from. In this article, we’ll talk you through a number of ‘bread and butter’ games which many teachers add to their collection of favourites.

Fly Swat/Flashcard Game

The Game: When teaching or reviewing vocabulary, flashcards are an invaluable tool. Once the students are familiar with the words, you can review by calling out a piece of the target language and getting the student to touch the correct flashcard. You could place the flashcards around the room (so that they have to run to the correct one – great for young learners) or you could line the flashcards up for the students to whack with a fly swatter (great for competitive pair work, or one-by-one for shy/unconfident student groups). For older learners, mini flashcards are better than big, cardboard ones – they could be just the text, just the picture, or both.

Age / Level: Any age or level, but great for young learners and lower levels
Stage of lesson: Great for a review at the end of the class, or for consolidation after a presentation stage
Prep / Props: Cardboard printed or hand drawn flashcards, fly swats to make it more of a game

Ball Pass

The Game: If you want students to practice speaking, but only want one student speaking at a time, use realia. A ball is a great prop because it can be passed, thrown or rolled. Even adults will get on board with a pass-the-ball game (as long as the ball isn’t, for example, bright pink and covered in Hello Kitty!) You can use ball passing games to practice anything from single vocabulary words to dialogues. For an alphabet game, get the students to pass the ball and say a word starting with the correct letter of the alphabet (apple… beach… chaos…). To practice a certain lexical set, just set the boundaries – for example, animal alphabet (anteater… bear… camel…). You can get students to practice target language with a sentence starter to be completed (on the weekend I played golf… on the weekend I ate fries…). Or you can use the ball pass to ad lib a conversation around the class (Hello, what’s your name?… I’m Maria, and I love pizza… oh, me too! But I love chicken wings best… yuck, I can’t stand meat!) Be creative, and remember that with a ball throw game, it makes it more fun to throw randomly rather than just in a circle.

Age / Level: Any age or level, but great for young learners and lower levels
Stage of lesson: Great for a warmer
Prep / Props: Write sentence starters/target language on the board, a ball/beanbag/soft toy

These not catching your interest? Maybe you need 15 Simple Flashcard Games Your Kindy Kids Will Love

Call My Bluff

The Game: A super-easy verbal game for intermediate learners. Typically, students will write down three things about themselves. Two are true, and one is a lie. They then read out the sentences (or do it as pair/group work) and the other students guess which one the lie is.

Age / Level: Teens / adults, and intermediate or above
Stage of lesson: Great for a warmer
Prep / Props: Paper, pens, whiteboard

Shopping List

The Game: Another great verbal game (that also tests memory!) this is actually quite a flexible game for practising target vocabulary. Basically, you have a sentence starter with a list at the end, which grows each time a new speaker repeats it (for example: “I like pizza… I like pizza and fries… I like pizza, fries and bananas”). You can use it for shopping (I went to the shops and I bought…), or for sightseeing/holidays (I went to the beach and I saw…), for future tenses and conditional forms (if I win the lottery I will buy…) specific lexical sets, such as animals (I went to the zoo and I saw…). Just be creative!

Age / Level: Middle school to adults, pre-intermediate upwards
Stage of lesson: Great as a warmer or to consolidate
Prep / Props: Nothing but a good memory!


The Game: Want your students to review before a spelling best? Try this game. Write a target word on a piece of paper and cut it into individual letters. The students then have to guess what the word is and rearrange the letters. You can also do this on the board by scrambling the letters. For example – donkey… e-o-d-n-y-k. This can also be done with target sentences, for example – I like to eat cheese… cheese-eat-like-I. Make it competitive by having students work in teams.

Age / Level: Middle school to adults, pre-intermediate upwards
Stage of lesson: Warmer, cooler or consolation
Prep / Props: Paper, pen, scissors, whiteboard

Need some games to keep kids moving? Check out Active Games for Young Learners


There are countless games that can be played in a TEFL classroom, and we all have our favourites. Learn new games by observing seasoned teachers, by watching Youtube clips and reading pedagogy blogs. Favourites are great, but it’s always good to mix it up!

For more teaching tips, visit our Teaching Tips blog. Are you looking for a teaching job overseas? We’re hiring through our recruitment division, Saxoncourt Recruitment.

About the Author

Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer and TEFL-trained English teacher who spent five years teaching in Asia. She specialises in travel writing and writing for children, and has a penchant for knitting. Celia is the author of Knitted Sushi (easy knitting patterns for beginners) and Ben and Maki – Let’s be Friends (an English/Japanese bilingual picture book). To contact Celia about freelancing work, check out her Upwork profile or contact Celia through her website.

Student and Parent Guide: What to Do Over the Summer Break

POSTED ON July 24th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

The upcoming summer break is an opportunity for all students to rest and “recharge their batteries” for the next school year. However, the excess of free time can have negative effects if it is not fulfilled in an interesting, but also a useful way.

Taking a two-month break in learning may have a harmful effect on students because it can make it difficult to start a new school year.

Namely, after merely ten days, children start with additional animation requirements, which are now mostly reduced to games, TV and playing on the computer. This is especially the case if they do not leave town and visit the countryside or the sea, but they stay in the city, in the apartment or at home, and if both parents are working.

Having this in mind, parents should try to “smuggle in” some educational content into their children’s daily games. Plan on how to spend your vacation and organize activities for the little ones to relax while maintaining their working habits.

Organize Family Game Nights

Once a week, you could organize a family game night and opt for games where the kids will strategically think and plan. You should also include games with reading, writing, or counting. You will all have fun, and children will learn in a casual and relaxed manner.

In addition to the typical games, you can combine or design your treasure hunt games (especially for younger children) where they have to look for letters that create words that lead them to hidden objects.

Crafty games, where you make shapes out of clay and your opponents must guess what they are, are excellent for developing motor skills.

Encourage the Children to Create

The best way to focus children’s curiosity is to provide them with the opportunity to self-innovate, design and create.

Give them the material and instruct them to make a variety of things: figures, buildings, vehicles or anything that comes to mind. Such activities will improve not only the development of STEM skills but also imagination.

If LEGO and similar toys do not fit into your budget, try cardboard boxes, smaller and larger, which are ideal for such activities.

Gardening and Imagination

Learning can also be done in the yard. Nature is full of opportunities to learn something, and planning, planting and harvesting in a small garden can be the same as exercising math and mastering the lessons from biology.

With children, you can choose foods and explore how to plant and care for them. Use a ruler to measure and decide where you want to plant the plants, and then read the instructions on how to properly grow them and care for them. Ask your children to measure them every day and monitor their growth.

Once your garden has fruits, you can also organize a mini market with the children where they will take care of the money from the sold fruits.

There are more ideas you can find on the Internet, along with instructions for those who have no experience in the garden, as well as ideas on how children can use gardening tools.

Make Reading Fun

Reading is one of the best ways for children to not feel the negative consequences of the summer break. The youngest children who are not yet able to read can be asked to search for specific letters or words as well as to find as many specified letters or words as possible for a given prize.

With older children, you can play Q&A games where you will ask them specific questions from the texts that are read. Instead of giving them a lecture, you can also provide them with the choice of books that interest them and then ask them questions.

Here are some games from the classroom that can maybe be adapted to home: 5 English Practice Games for Reading and Writing

Play Math Games

Use different coloured chalk to draw squares with numbers that will serve as the targets, and then give the children small stones or bottle caps and tell them to aim for the squares.

You can ask them which number is the lowest and which the highest, as well as assign operations with them. Younger children can do so by identifying numbers.

For these types of games, you can also use their favourite toys.

Leave Some Room for Creativity

It has been proven that art encourages the development of cognitive, social and emotional skills. Why not make a kind of diary, scrapbook or an album called Summer 2018?

Another good idea is to make home-made soap or clothes for your child’s favorite toy.

Plan a Variety of Tasks and Activities for Each Week

Planning fun activities for your children will make their learning experience on holiday more exciting and diverse.

If you make a scrapbook, you can use it to put photos of all the summer activities you did together.

Stay Active

High temperatures often limit us to spending time in the house. When we add to this the fact that the children have no physical education classes since it’s the summer break, it is clear to us why it is difficult for some of them to stay in shape.

However, we also know that children will almost never refuse to go to the park, to the trampoline or the water slide, no matter the weather. Most children will also never say no to the old good splashing game: you do not need water guns – make some holes in several water bottles and the entire family can enjoy the game in the yard, regardless of the heat!

Leisure time is perfect for activities that you otherwise do not have time to do and that is why it is precious. Children could use a break, but make sure that they do not spend too much time playing on computers, but to refer to playing and socializing in nature. For the little ones, it is essential that during the holidays they rest, socialize, enjoy playing games, experience something entirely new and stay active. (And don’t forget the kinesthetic students who NEED to move around to learn.)

Want to get (and give) more in your EFL classroom? Visit our Teaching Tips blog. Are you an EFL teacher looking for work? We have schools in a number of locations, so someone’s always hiring from our recruitment arm, Saxoncourt Recruitment.

About the Author

Milica Madić is a freelance blog/article writer from Serbia with experience in teaching and working with young learners.



How to Develop Student Self-Efficacy

POSTED ON July 17th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Student self-efficacy is a fancy term which educators use when talking about students’ confidence and belief in their ability to learn something. A student with strong self-efficacy learns quicker and is more confident using English than a student who does not believe in their ability to learn. Confident students are more likely to keep trying when they make mistakes, be eager to try harder tasks, stay motivated to learn the language and feel more at ease when using English than students with low efficacy. Developing your students’ self-efficacy should, therefore, be high up on your agenda.

Albert Bandura, a renowned psychologist from Stanford University, published extensively on the topic of self-efficacy. His 1994 paper on self-efficacy is particularly influential and the theory from that paper is applicable to the classroom and you can use it to help your students to grow as learners.

Badura explains that there are four main factors which contribute towards self-efficacy. Knowing about them will help you to boost your students’ confidence and could also help you to become a more self-efficacious teacher.

Personal Experience (Mastering Skills on Their Own)

According to Bandura the most effective way to increase confidence in our abilities is through getting first-hand experience at doing something. The idea is simple: when students master a new English skill or successfully complete a language task, their belief in their language abilities will increase.

The important thing here is that you gauge the difficulty of the tasks correctly – tasks that are too easy will not challenge your students, while tasks that are too hard can be discouraging. If your students get used to always succeeding at easy activities, they might get easily put off trying when they are faced with more difficult language exercises. To ensure your students succeed at complex tasks and reinforce their self-efficacy, take time to explain how to approach these tasks and what needs to be done to complete them. Completing sufficiently difficult tasks will help your students to become more confident in their language abilities.

Vicarious Experience (Seeing Others Succeed)

Seeing someone else attempt and complete a task can help us to imagine ourselves doing the same and hence increase our self-efficacy. According to Bandura the more similar the person completing a task is to ourselves the stronger our belief that we can have the same accomplishment. A language classroom provides a perfect setting for learning by observing peers, as all the students are there to learn English and quite often also share many other common traits, such as age, cultural background and previous experience.

To facilitate peer learning in your classroom, make sure to include many group activities in your lessons. For some brilliant ideas for pair work, follow this link to a Shane English School Teaching Tips article.

Social Persuasion (Receiving Verbal Encouragement)

Sometimes it’s possible to simply persuade your students that they are good at something. This can be done by reminding them of past achievements and encouraging them to continue, letting them know you believe they will succeed. Praising your students when they did well is also important, but you need to be genuine and credible, so don’t exaggerate achievements.

When giving feedback and encouragement, rather than comparing students, focus on the student’s past performance. If a student failed at the task, explain why they were unsuccessful and what they can try to do differently next time to improve. Highlight that failure is not a reflection of how smart they are and encourage your students to try again. If you succeed in encouraging your students to persevere and complete a task, then your words will aid them in getting that valuable first-hand experience mentioned above.

Somatic and Emotional States (How Learning Makes Them Feel)

Your students will have different feelings about learning English, some will enjoy it, while others might find it an intimidating experience. A tense and stressed student is more likely to negatively interpret their language abilities, while a happy student would be more likely to have a higher opinion of their language skills. Our emotions do not just affect our mental state but can also how we feel physically. Stress, in particular, can cause your students to feel fatigued and have trouble concentrating in class.

To increase student self-efficacy, try to make your classroom a welcoming, relaxed, friendly, and as stress-free a place as possible. If your students feel at ease they are bound to perform better and consequently feel more comfortable using English.

Your Own Self-efficacy

As well as working on developing your students’ self-efficacy, remember to also work on developing your own. If you are confident and comfortable in your teaching you will be a positive role model for your students. With strong self-efficacy, you will also find it easier to motivate your students and to try fresh teaching methods in the classroom. If you need some advice on how to become more confident when speaking to your class, check out this blog post from Shane English.

About the Author

Aleks Kaye completed a blended CELTA course while working full-time in Student Support at a university in the UK. Since 2016 Aleks and her husband David have been on the road, travelling the world. You can read about their adventures at

Why You Should Include Activities in Your Classroom Instead of Games

POSTED ON July 10th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

ESL classes are meant to be fun. They’re often an additional class that your students take outside of their regular school classes, so it’s good if you can make the classes fun and enjoyable for them. That way, they won’t mind coming to them during the hours they would usually spend playing on the computer or spending time with friends. But that doesn’t mean that your classes should be full of games. Games are fun sometimes, but they aren’t always good for learning for a number of reasons.

Why Games Aren’t Always the Answer

Teaching English abroad is meant to be fun and so are your ESL classes. That’s why lots of schools and literature on the subject talk about the importance of games. But in reality, using games all the time during your classes can damage your students’ learning. Dice games, ball games, games that make the students run from one end of the classroom to the other, they’re all noisy and disruptive. And they don’t always help the students learn. Some of the most serious problems with games in the classroom are the following:

Your students will be thinking about winning.

During your class, you want your students to think about how to say the language and how to use it properly. But they can’t do this if they’re busy competing with other students.

Your students will rush.

It’s the nature of games, isn’t it? When you play a game, whatever you have to do, you do it fast so you can beat other people. This isn’t the way you want them practising new grammar or vocabulary.

Everyone gets excited.

If you’ve ever designed a really good game for the classroom, you know how fun it can be. Everyone starts laughing and jumping around and there’s a general air of relaxation in the air. This is the ideal situation in certain situations, but it’s not the right kind of atmosphere for learning. When your students are laughing and mucking around, chances are they aren’t speaking English. And this is the opposite of what you want.

When to Play Games

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for games in your ESL class. Games are a great icebreaker when you have a new class that’s full of students who don’t know you or each other. They’re also a great way to wake up a tired class, particularly if you’re teaching in the evening when the students have been at school all day and need to get moving and show some energy. And as long as you keep the games short, to the point, and surrounded by more beneficial activities, they shouldn’t disrupt the learning atmosphere too much.

You can find some game ideas here and here.

Activities vs Games

The difference between activities and games in the classroom can be subtle. Activities will encourage students to speak clearly and to think about what they’re saying rather than rush through them to get an advantage. The challenge is in getting it right, not in getting to the end, and that’s the most important advantage of ESL activities.

Planning activities rather than games can help your students learn, keep your classroom calmer, and will help you be a better teacher who has better students. To help you achieve all of those aims, here are some great activities to try:

Find the mistake.

Write a number of sentences on slips of paper with a grammar mistake in each. The students take one slip of paper. Let them mingle and use rock-paper-scissors to determine who speaks first. The student says the sentence with the mistake. Their partner has to listen and say the sentence correctly. If they pick out the mistake, they get the slip of paper. If they don’t, the students swap roles. The student with the most pieces of paper at the end is the winner.

Investigative Journalist

This activity is an old one, but it works. It can be adapted to any level, and it puts the emphasis on correct structures and thought. Pair the students and get them to interview each other on any subject. They have to write down the other students’ answers and then present the findings to the class. For beginner classes, you can have them interview each other about families, their likes and dislikes and even their everyday activities. For more advanced students, the sky is quite literally the limit.

Draw a Picture

This activity can also be used at any level as long as you encourage the right type of grammar and vocabulary. Tell your students to draw a picture without showing anyone else. And then they have to dictate the particulars of their picture to their partner, telling them how to draw the picture. The closest match wins. Just make sure the pictures are sufficiently detailed and that no one cheats!

Crossword Puzzles

Great for improving the cognitive functions of people of all ages, crossword puzzles are a great activity in ESL classrooms as well. Pair the students off and make sure the words and the clues are at their level and you’ll be sure to have a busy silence in your classroom while they work it out.

Tell Me a Story

This activity can be a little more difficult, but if you choose to scaffold the vocabulary and grammar that you want the students to use, it can be used in all but the very beginner classes. Students pair off and one tells the other a story in English. The other writes it down. They then swap roles. The students then edit their work for mistakes because they have to present each other’s story to the class.

These games are all fun without being overwhelming, and they focus on precision rather than competition. This is the best way to ensure that your students get the best of both worlds in your ESL class.

About the Author

Gayle Aggiss an ESL teacher and a dedicated traveller. She’s taught in Fuzhou, China and Hanoi and she much prefers smaller cities to the larger options. When not on the road, she lives in Perth, Australia.  She writes about education, ESL teaching specifically, and you can view more examples of her work at






Discipline in the Classroom: 5 Things the Teacher Has to Know

POSTED ON July 3rd  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Children and teenagers do not like discipline, and therefore often refuse to obey and follow the rules. To avoid the problem of poor discipline in the classroom, it is necessary to determine the rules of behaviour in the classroom.

There is no teacher who hasn’t faced this problem. While some deal with indiscipline relatively easily, others need to make great efforts to create even the basic working conditions. It usually depends on the personality of the teacher himself and their experience of working with children.

It often happens that teachers simply can’t maintain the order in the classroom. The pupils are undisciplined for various reasons – they are bored, they want to attract the attention of their peers, or test the patience of their teachers because they do not like authority.

Lack of discipline is not unique to one particular age. Seventeen-year-olds can be as equally noisy and ready for mischief as seven-year-olds and refuse any kind of cooperation.

In order to establish order and enable smooth work, it is necessary for teachers to adhere to certain rules. There are lots of tips out there – from experts’ advice, colleagues and even parents, but the most important thing is to persist in adhering to certain rules:

Come Prepared for Your Class

Preparing the class in advance allows the teacher to be self-confident. Students easily feel the insecurity of teachers and thus have a suitable ground for mischief and inattentiveness.

If you know exactly what you want to present to your students that day and in which way you want to do it, things will run much smoother and it will be a lot easier for both you and them.

Students can also sense when the teacher is unprepared and if you take too long between activities, that will only motivate the pupils to make noise and be mischievous.

Don’t Raise Your Voice at Your Students

Raising your voice could contribute to creating even more noise in the classroom.

A calm, steady voice is much more effective. Sometimes, non-verbal reactions are the best means of stopping the noise – eye contact with students who are restless; facial expressions that show dissatisfaction due to misbehaviour; moving your hand to stop the noise.

As far as verbal reactions are concerned, it is best to lower the tone of your voice and address the student who is making a fuss about the material that is being worked on.

It is very important that criticism is addressed to the student’s behaviour, and not to the student themself.

Remain Unbiased at All Cost

Unbiasedness is essential, although sometimes it is extremely difficult to escape from one’s subjective feelings. Favouring or singling out individual students is not allowed. It is imperative to alert students who, otherwise, might be diligent and attentive when it is deserved because it is natural that they also happen to be restless and noisy.

On the other hand, always praise those who are not always attentive when they deserve commendation. Children easily feel the injustice, and the objectivity of the teacher is a quality they value very much. The more students respect their teachers, the more the working conditions will be better.

Be Consistent with Your Actions and Reactions

Consistency is something that is closely related to the rules of conduct. The teacher sets them together with their students at the very beginning of the school year. The consistency in the teacher’s actions makes students gain their trust.

If the teacher responds differently in similar situations, they will confuse the students and the students will then not know how to behave. Such a teacher loses the trust and respect of his pupils, and respecting the teacher is half the work done to establish discipline.

Make Sure to Motivate Your Students

Motivation is the primary weapon for establishing discipline. Today it is very difficult to motivate students and teachers constantly lead an unfair fight with modern technologies – video games and numerous TV channels that offer fun but inexpensive content that is easily accessible to the students.

Teachers need to make a good effort to get their classes to be interesting. Being bored in class is one of the most common reasons for indiscipline and that is why making changes and introducing new activities often is very important.

Evaluations have always been the main motive for students to study, and teachers are there to show that learning is not only an obligation but that it can also be something that can be enjoyed.

The problem of indiscipline is the biggest problem for teachers when it comes to direct work with children, and from year to year, it is getting bigger. Although it is most often impossible to achieve an ideal atmosphere for work, the teacher can always work on improving it. There is no unique and simple recipe, but each teacher has one of their own, more or less successful. It would be nice to share those better ones.

For more teaching tips, visit our Teaching Tips blog. Are you looking for a teaching position? Visit us at Saxoncourt Recruitment.

About the Authorlin

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

Digital Stories in English Teaching and Learning

POSTED ON June 26th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Digital stories represent an extremely effective tool in the English language learning. In combination with computer animations in younger classes, especially with students aged 7 to 10 years, acquisition of simple knowledge and skills is improved, as well as basic grammar, active learning and motivation.

More students are getting less and less interested in books by the day. Reading is simply no longer “in.” It is difficult to say what is the reason, but knowing how much time our students spend in front of a computer, it is indisputable that modern technologies have contributed to the undermining the joy of reading.

However, there is no reason not to use technology to try to encourage students to read.

Why don’t we show them how to create stories themselves? What’s stopping us from getting immersed in the same world of imagination? Why not start a whole new adventure together?

There is really no reason not to do so.

Digital Stories

We have at our disposal a whole set of simple computer tools that we can use in class and – depending on the age of the students – tell digital stories tailored to today’s digital age.

Digital tales will encourage creativity and innovation among students. They contain not only pictures and text, but also sound and videos. They can be real or fictitious, shorter or longer. They are talking about personal or historical events.

What is certain is that they will surely make the lessons interesting, as they will turn the written word into a magical adventure and thus perhaps encourage students to reach for the “right” book.

Almost all digital storytelling tools come from English-speaking areas, and therefore they provide the students with what they need to practice their language skills by following instructions.

Although it may seem that all of these tools are best suited for teaching English, experience shows that most of these tools are convenient for repetition or learning material from all other subjects as well.

What tools we use will depend on the age of the student and surely the pictures and drawings will be more interesting to younger students, but those in higher grades will undoubtedly enjoy them too.

Picture Books

Picture Book Maker is a very simple digital tool to draw and write a picture book. It is suitable for lower-grade students who are just being introduced to the secrets of digital stories. Students edit book covers and pages using ready-made illustrations whose size and position can be changed. The characters are animals from the zoo. Once the picture book is finished, it can be printed, sent by email, or saved to the gallery, which will require registration.

My Storymaker is a tool where students can choose characters, objects, and settings from the suggested templates. At the bottom of each page, a text that automatically adjusts to the interaction between characters and/or objects can be written. It is not possible to use any language other than English, so this is the perfect tool to be incorporated into your classes.

After the student has finished the story, it cannot be edited again. However, they could request a “magic number” by which they can save the story to their own computer, which is recommended since the stories get removed from the website after a while.


Zimmer Twins is a cartoon-drawing tool in which the main characters are 12-year-old twins Edgar and Eva Zimmer and their cat named 13. A basic knowledge of English is required as pupils get to choose between offered animated templates in English.

Zimmer Twins, apart from being an amazing tool for learning English, can also be used to explain textual tasks in mathematics or physics, describing a chemical experiment or a historical event, and any other theme from other subjects. If a student wishes to save their own cartoon, registration is necessary.


OurStory is a tool for creating timelines using photos and. It is very useful for teaching English as it contains sets of hundreds of questions that students can answer and thus create a kind of a time travel. Questions are sorted by topics, e.g. My Story, Love Story, Travel Story, Remember When, or Timeless – a set of 340 questions covers areas that range from our hobbies and desires to your favorite food and our achievements. The photo gallery in the completed timeline can be public or private, and can also be uploaded to a blog. Registration is required.

Photostory is a great program that enables us to make an album in just a few clicks and our photos. Once we have selected the photos that we want to use to create an album, we will simply import them into Photostory and move them, make them bigger or smaller, add titles in different fonts and colors.

We can also attach a voice recording to every single image. If we want, we can add a song that will serve as a musical background. We can save the finished story on our computer where we will be able to play it using Windows Media Player.


Windows Movie Maker is a tool with which we can convert recorded videos into a movie. After we’ve uploaded the video to Windows Movie Maker, the tool will automatically convert the recording into snippets that we can move around and shorten and view each part separately.

As music background, we can add any song we desire, and it is also possible to assign a different song to each clip. We can play with transitions between snippets, titles and add various effects. In short, with Movie Maker, students will make the movie as if they were real professional directors.

The possibilities offered by the Internet represent an infinite source of teaching material, and it is up to the teacher to choose suitable websites that will suit the students’ needs and according to their age. The effects of multimedia and digital content in learning English are not only reflected in the knowledge of the students, but also in their love of the language they learn. Students become motivated, and motivation is the prerequisite for every successful acquisition of knowledge.

Looking for more teaching tips? Visit our Teaching Tips blog. Or if you’re a teacher looking for your next opportunity, check out Saxoncourt Recruitment.

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

Top 5 Problems When Teaching EFL

POSTED ON June 20th  - POSTED IN Teaching Tips

Any classroom, whether you are teaching in Taiwan or Guatemala, has its set of challenges and problems when teaching EFL. If you haven’t taught before and came across this article in preparation for teaching EFL, then this might sound scary: There isn’t a way to avoid these problems. However, there are, of course, ways to prepare for these challenges that can arise.

Let’s have a look at the top 5 problems when teaching English as a Foreign Language.

1. Students Don’t Speak English In Class

If you have a class full of young learners, then it is very likely that they will speak more in their native language (L1) than in English.

The Solution:

You might be aware that every class is different. However, it doesn’t matter what the students’ English proficiency level is or how old they are; every student in class needs to understand that, at the very least, they need to try to speak as much English as they can. For young learners, awarding points for speaking only English in class could work very well.

2. Dependent Students

This EFL problem occurs when the students in your class are constantly seeking attention or assistance. There are two scenarios here: They may either ask you to assist them in completing an exercise or say they cannot or do not know how to complete the task on their own.

The Solution:

It is vital to empower your students and let them feel as if they are able to complete the exercises. For example, say they have to complete an exercise on choosing ‘many’ or ‘much’ with countable/uncountable nouns, you can do the first or first two exercises on the worksheet with them. Ask the students, “Is it many apples or much apples?” They should answer “many”; then ask them why – the answer should be something along the lines of apples are things you can count. Your students may simply feel overwhelmed by the exercise, but by nudging them in the right direction, they should have the confidence to complete the rest of the exercise on their own.

3. Students Take Over

On the other hand, students taking over the class is another common problem and can easily happen when you are a new teacher or just the new teacher of that particular class. Two possibilities are (1) when a student comes in all excited over something, tells the class, and then the class gets all excited or (2) the students think they can improve the activity you have picked for them.

The Solution:

The obvious: Take your control back. But how? You need to let them know – firmly and kindly – that the lesson needs to take place, but that if work is finished in time, they can have some time – a few minutes, really – to talk about whatever it is that they are excited about. Or, as for the second case, you need to let them know that you have already planned this activity or game, but will consider their ideas for the next one.

4. One Student Takes Over

This third problem when teaching EFL is related to the third challenge above; however, in this scenario, only one student – usually an eager beaver – dominates the lesson by blurting out the answers or raising their hands first. These students typically like to win and are quite competitive.

The Solution:

There are quite a few ways that you can deal with this. One way is to take straws or pebbles (or something like this) with you to class. Consider the lesson and how many times – ideally – there are questions to answer, etc. Give each student, for example, 4 straws – meaning that they have 4 opportunities in the lesson to answer questions or say something. Once the straws are finished, they have to stay quiet, unless you call on them. Turn this into a game for young learners, whereby there is some sort of prize for having no straws left at the end of class. This will also help the quiet students – hopefully, they will want the prize and speak up a bit.

Another solution for this eager beaver student is to make them the helper for the day or lesson. The student can help you to give out books, write things on the board when necessary, or help other students find the right answers or complete an exercise.

5. Unmotivated/Bored Students

For any EFL teacher, no matter whether you are still a newbie or very experienced, this problem when teaching EFL is something that is bound to happen from time to time. Your students’ eyes will glaze over – whether it is from no motivation, no interest in the lesson, or because what (or how) you are teaching is boring.

The Solution:

It is easy to blame the students, the grammar you are teaching, or even the course book you have to work from. Unfortunately – and this is the truth – the reasons for your students’ boredom or lack of motivation is you. After all, you are the teacher and, thus, you are responsible for keeping the students engaged. There are always ways to make the lesson more fun – doing research on the internet, seeing what other teachers do, and adding your own interesting ideas should be a priority.

Last Thoughts

There are of course some other problems you can experience in an EFL classroom, from students being late and not doing their homework to not doing what you ask them to do; nonetheless, the problems when teaching EFL discussed in this article are the top 5 that any teacher can and will encounter in their class.

About the Author

Denine Walters currently works in the events industry and freelances as an EFL teacher, writer, and proofread/editor. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world, and before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In what free time she has, she likes to travel, watch Netflix, read, and do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes.