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How to Speak to English Language Students

New teachers often have problems trying to decide how to speak to students so they understand them best.

Should they keep their grammar‏‎ really simple? Should they avoid unusual words‏‎? Should they slow down? Should they speak to students as though they were speaking to young children even if they are adults?

First to remember is that the way in which you speak to your students…

Just a Minute – speaking activity

Just a Minute is a very popular British radio quiz game which is ideal for the TEFL classroom and great for practicing speaking skills.

It’s very simple to prepare and great fun to play. Best for small groups but it can be played with larger groups if you prepare it well. It works best, perhaps, with Intermediate and above level students.
The principle of the game…

Building Diagrams

Building Diagrams is an activity to help students with reading comprehension‏‎ and speaking‏‎. It can be run in a similar way to jigsaw reading‏‎ in that groups of students come together to pool their knowledge to build a diagram.

Basically the students are given a series of written statements which explain several relationships. They come together as groups to try and reconstruct a diagram based on those relationships.

Non Threatening Debates in TEFL

Non-Threatening Debates are ideal TEFL debates which can be held in class and then voted on.

The idea is simple. If you get your class to debate a hot topic (e.g. anything political or religious) then students can get very emotional and carried away. Because they are often emotionally involved in the subject they can struggle to find the right language because they are wrapped up in…

Intonation in English

Intonation is the system of rising and falling levels, as well as variations in pitch sequences, when we speak. People don’t talk in a monotone (unless they’re very boring) but instead there is rising and falling in what they say.

In other words, intonation is the melody of speech.

Intonation is about how we say things, rather than what we say. It helps us understand the…

Language Register in TEFL Teaching

In linguistics‏‎, the term Language Register is used to talk about the type of language a person might use in a certain social context, in other words, how formally they will speak.

For example:

A speaker might say I never done nuffin’ when talking to their friends, but when presented before the Queen that same speaker may well change the way they speak and say…

Teacher Talking Time in the TEFL Classroom

Teacher Talking Time (TTT) is the amount of time the teacher talks in the classroom. It pays to make this as little as possible.

Look at this typical TEFL classroom dialog:
Teacher: Jimal, what’s your favorite TV show?
Jimal: Er…
Teacher: Baywatch? American Idol? Top Gear?
Jimal: Baywatch.
Teacher: Great! [teacher writes up Baywatch on the board] Now, the rest of you, what are your favorite TV…

Language Skills in TEFL

There are 4 basic Language Skills


This article introduces each of these skills and explains what they are. There are also links to more in-depth articles on each of the skills.
Grouping Skills Together
These can be grouped in different ways.

We can talk about the oral skills (listening and speaking) or the written skills (reading and…