It is important to emphasize to teachers that students are the ones in the classroom that should be talking and communicating not you, the teacher. Many teachers seem to forget this simple truth and like to go on their rants on a frequent basis. Control yourselves please. Students learning a language need the practice more than you. Their primary reason for being there, is so they can practice the language skills they are trying to improve, as well as acquire some new vocabulary or discourse in the process, maybe even from their classmate, not necessarily from the teacher.
It is crucial to keep students engaged and involved in the lesson. The best way to do so is to let them engage with the others in their class who, theoretically, are there for similar reasons – to improve their language skills. Let students help each other. Teachers get the wrong impression that they need to plan every single moment of the lesson, follow a rigid plan throughout, and stay in control. NO!
Let go, allow your lessons to wander, sometimes it could take you down paths that can be incredibly useful to your students. A teacher might discover a weakness in their students’ abilities that they hadn’t noticed before, or students themselves might realize a weakness and point it out to their teacher for future practice. Interesting topics of discussion could come up, the same way they do when you are socializing and meeting people in real life. We don’t normally enter a conversation with people with a plan so don’t force that kind of thinking in your class.
Be spontaneous, and your students will be grateful. Give students the freedom to explore their language abilities and communication skills. Challenge them not with mind-numbing exercises but with communicative activities and topics that allow them to engage, connect and listen to each other. Don’t be a tyrant be a nurturer, only then will you see REAL progress in your students.
Finally, if you feel that you need to cover a grammar point try to avoid too many exercises and set it in the appropriate context. If this is outside of your comfort zone, that’s ok, that’s how we improve as teachers – by taking risks from time to time. Providing appropriate context for grammar points, allows students to understand the importance in using that grammar.
So, be adaptive, don’t lesson plan every minute of your lesson, take a risk, explore and see where that leads you…