Ten Tips Shared by a Long-Time Volunteer Teacher

Connie and some of her students during a field trip to the library.

Ten Teaching Tips Humbly Shared for your Consideration:

by Connie Bernhardt (4/11/23)

  1. Trust yourself (your heart and your efforts). Despite our missteps, our students are learning.
  1. Carefully preview the organization of the Teacher Book and the Student Book well in advance of Day One.

I find these sections of the Confidence and Connections books are especially helpful:

  • Scope and Sequence (pg. iv)
  • The consistent format of every lesson
  • The Reviews and Progress Checks (Lessons 8 and 16)
  • The Quick Reference Guide of Regular and Irregular Verbs (pg. 93 in the Student Book)
  • Conversation Practice and Language Tools (pgs. 98-99)
  • The grammar definitions and examples (pg. 100)
  1. Develop a welcoming and relaxed learning community. Begin on Day One with a name game. Try to begin every class with a short (5-10 min.) warm-up activity where students are practicing conversation. I prefer that students are standing for this practice. It’s more like normal, casual conversation.
  1. Read and reread the Teacher Book suggestions before every lesson. Even if you can’t remember everything, you’re sure to find a few ideas you can easily use in the lesson.
  1. Try to allow time for students to converse in pairs or small groups twice during every class. I like to begin and end with conversational activities.
  1. Use different methods for matching students with partners. Students should have opportunities to partner with everyone in the class.
  1. Correct all exercises together, including the homework, by asking students to read the sentences aloud. I go round-robin around the room so everyone participates. It’s important that all students are given multiple opportunities to answer in class.

 I also ask volunteers to read their Journal entries aloud to the class. I encourage them to write by showering praise on those willing to share. If I  hear a grammar error that we can all learn from, I write the sentence on the board and we correct it together. But, for the most part, I want my students to enjoy the challenge of writing a few sentences and feel rewarded for sharing.

  1. Look at the Reviews and Progress Checks ahead of time. You probably won’t finish every exercise in the lesson in two hours so prioritize. If you study the Reviews and Progress Checks (tests) in Lessons 8 and 16, you will get a good idea of what’s essential.

As part of their homework, encourage students to reread every exercise in the lesson aloud at home. Students learn more quickly when they read, speak, and listen to the language often. It trains their ears to recognize correct English.

  1. Watch the clock and develop techniques to keep the lesson on track. This will come easier with practice.

I always do the introduction, Vocabulary Words & Phrases, Pronunciation, Listening, Language Tools, and Grammar Practice. I choose an exercise in Real/Life/Your Life for a paired conversation activity.  I also sometimes assign the exercises we didn’t do in class as additional homework and go   over those at the beginning of the next class. That homework can also be used for paired conversation at the beginning of that next class.

  1. Finally, enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy the class, it’s likely that your students will, too. It’s good work, sharing English with immigrants that are eager to learn and grateful for your help. Teaching for Intercambio is a reminder that we have so much in common and, despite all the chaos, it’s still a beautiful world.
About Connie:  Connie Bernhardt was a well-regarded teacher with Arlington Public Schools (VA) for 35 years. She began as a junior high school English, speech, and drama teacher but spent most of her career teaching high school English, creating numerous staff development projects, and eventually becoming Wakefield High School’s Senior Project Coordinator. After retiring, she developed an interest in volunteering as an ESL teacher. In Virginia, she gained valuable experience working with two different adult ESL programs. After she and her husband relocated to Louisville, Colorado, she began volunteering with Intercambio. During her 4+ years with Intercambio, she has taught a variety of classes.

Do you have a teaching tip you would like us to feature? Submit it below.

Share with others:

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest