Teaching English lessons is always challenging―whether you are teaching people for whom English is the first language, or for those for who English is a foreign language. It always take a lot of preparations and forethought―you might have to plan lessons according to the levels of the students, and make sure that your lessons will become interactive, so that all students will feel free to participate. Always bear in mind that, it is when students participate in your class, you are well on the way of becoming a successful teacher.
Pay Along with the Levels of the Students
If you are teaching people who already know the language, then your primary intention is to make them evaluate the beauty of the language and get them to appreciate literature. You have to remove the errors they make in speaking the language―you have to replace their colloquialisms with refined language. You have to prepare your lessons in order to fine-tune the language that your students are already speaking, and avoid them from making obvious grammatical mistakes. This is a daunting task in itself, since people who already converse in English will find it quite difficult to change the language they are accustomed to, even though it is wrong.
And if you are teaching students who are alien to the language, then it's a whole new ballgame. Your primary intention then is to create in them basic conversation skills for the language. You might have to begin with the most basic approaches at conversation, and then work your way upwards. The plus point is that these students might be more receptive at learning, and will probably hang on to every word that you say. Hence, you will also need to speak slowly.
Be Unpredictable in Class
Quite often, we find that language training can be quite a bit of bore, especially if the students already have an indication of the methods of their tutor. That is the reason why teachers, especially language teachers, have to keep changing their strategies time and again. This will enliven the lecture, and will also prevent the lessons from being boring for the tutor itself.
As a tutor, you can do several things to keep your classroom active. Playing games is the most effective thing you can do, and you can browse the Internet for various games on building vocabulary, grammar, and conversation skills, that you can adapt to the classroom format. But make sure the games are interesting to the students, and will teach them something. Do not repeat games too―that becomes again predictable and boring.
Play acting is also a very good method, which is subtle and keeps up the interest alive. I sometimes use a format in which I establish roles for myself and for a small group of students, and have a mock conversation. For example, I might play the role of a ticket issuer, and make the students play the roles of customers. We would play a scenario in which they are asking for tickets and I am asking them questions on what they exactly want. This really helps in making them more confident in the language and shedding inhibitions in conversing with people too. For a higher level class, you can have more sophisticated conversations.
Elocutions, debates, extempore speeches, recitations―all of them help build your student's conversations. Every once in a while, conduct an English workshop in class where students can participate in such events.
Test Your Students Regularly
You will go nowhere with your class if you do not take time out to test your students. You, and the students themselves, need to know where they are getting at. Hence, you must devise various means to test them. Keep these as soft tests, that is, tests in which you can be assured the students will perform well. That will give them a confidence boost, and they will actually look forward to more tests.
Comprehension is the best way to test an English class, and you can raise the difficulty bar based on their level of competency. Written comprehension tests are good, but if you conduct audio or even visual comprehension tests, then they would be much better. Make students listen to a simple audio clipping of two people talking, and ask them questions on it. You could also make them hear a song, and ask them about the lyrics. Keep the song simple, especially for beginners; something from the oeuvres of Peter, Paul & Mary or The Carpenters would do very well for beginners.