8 top tips for teaching with an assistant

For many first-time TEFLers, the idea of standing in front of a classroom full of excited children can be daunting. So, some schools provide native teaching assistants to help you learn to control your class. It sounds ideal – but how do you make the most of teaching with an assistant? Here are our top tips.

1. Plan your lesson

We don’t need to tell you that a brilliant lesson plan is the best way to prepare for a brilliant lesson. Include the teaching assistant on your plan – and make the most of that extra pair of hands to help your lesson run smoothly.

2. Let your assistant teach

Ask your teaching assistant to lead a short activity or act out a role-play together. Your lesson will be sharper and more engaging if students hear more than just your voice.

Teacher in playground

3. Discuss the lesson in advance

Your teaching assistant may have loads of experience of supporting TEFL classes or they may have none. Either way, they won’t know what you’ve planned for your next lesson unless you tell them. Chat through your lesson plan and they’ll be ready to jump in with activities at the right moment.

4. Define your roles

Agree what role your teaching assistant will take on during each part of the lesson – whether that’s writing the answers to an activity on the board or working with specific individuals and groups. It will save a lot of confusion if you’re not both stretching for the white board pen or heading for the same student at the same moment!

5. Use clear English

Remember that your teaching assistant is not a native English speaker so rattling off your ideas at high speed can mean crucial information is lost. Keep your language simple and you’ve got a far better chance of your assistant providing the support you need.

Kids playing outside

6. Use your TEFL skills

Never assume that your teaching assistant understands your ideas – they might not want to offend you by saying “no”. Put your TEFL skills to good use and knowledge check the key points before the class starts.

7. Let your teaching assistant handle the discipline

Let’s face it, how to keep your class under control is probably the number one worry of new TEFL teachers. The great news is that this is usually part of the role of teaching assistants. They will know the class – and the level of discipline that is appropriate. Agree guidelines in advance and then step back and let them handle the control.

8. Don’t get lost in translation

Okay, so strictly speaking you’re only supposed to use English in a TEFL classroom. But every now and again a quick translation of instructions into the local language can change confused faces into smiles. Let your teaching assistant help out – and they can let you move on with lesson.

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