italki Teaching Tips: Should I prepare before a lesson? and if so what?

Our italki Teaching Tips are real teaching tips from real italki teachers who have first hand experience teaching different students from all over the world.   We share these tips to help you become a better teacher.

Should I prepare before a lesson? and if so what?

prepare_classesYou must prepare before class.
The teacher should know exactly what materials and in what order he will give the lesson.
Prepare presentations about grammar rules, exercises, audio and video.
It is better to send all materials by e-mail or Skype before the class, therefore unforeseen circumstances will not spoil your lesson.
Having a plan and well prepared materials are essential to a successful lesson for you and your students.

Should you prepare or not, I don’t know.. you must be prepared!
Preparing will help you:

  • echo the previous lessons and help your student memorize.
  • prevent you from making mistakes (e.x. doing the same unit twice)
  • anticipate the student’s questions

Indeed, the more experienced you are, the less preparation who will need.

You should always have something prepared ahead of time. Maybe you won’t get to that topic because the student had something interesting to share and the conversation goes in completely different direction. This is good! That is what happens in real life. I use pictures, youtube, articles and an online whiteboard for my sessions and I have a topic and appropriate materials planned before the start of each session.

Teacher preparation is an important part of every lesson! Start by reviewing your student’s long-term goals. Perhaps you can break these down into smaller objectives. What does your student need to master before he or she achieve their long-term goals. Center your lessons around these smaller objectives. For example, if your student wants to improve their conversational skills, determine several different conversations they should be able to have and plan a lesson around each type of conversation.

Once you have an objective for a lesson, consider how you can teach it to the student. Are there any resources that would be helpful? If so gather these in advance. I like to use visual aides when possible. Finally, consider how this student will best be able to practice. Would a written assignment be best or a practice conversation with you? Once you know what and how you want to teach, write out a brief plan that tells you how long to spend on each activity. Of course, you can always alter the plan as you go along, but its best to at least have an idea of how long you think each thing will take before you start. Having a plan helps you maximize your time with the student and ensures you are moving them closer to their language goals.

I prepare for every lesson for several reasons. First, I want to “build” upon their previous lesson. For example, if they struggled with a specific grammar point such as future perfect tense, I would have more exercises and activities ready for them so that we can work out any remaining issues before going on to the next grammar point. Secondly, I like to use a variety of teaching techniques and there is not enough opportunity in one hour to use all of them. Therefore, I rotate techniques, activities and strategies from lesson to lesson. While there can be some similar activities used for multiple lessons such as a grammar warm up, there should be some differences and distinctions. Also, when a student notices that you planned a lesson exclusively for them, they will feel special and thus sign up for more lessons. That’s why it is important to take notes during a lesson and then go back before the next lesson to review specifically what the student needs more practice with and what they did well.

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