TEFL Teaching – to ‘book’ or not to ‘book’ ?

By: Theodora Pap (CELTA qualified, EFL teacher in Thessaloniki, Greece)

When it comes to TEFL Teaching in Greece, the first thing you will notice is that english language classes (like the majority of foreign language lessons) are extremely exam-oriented, from a very young age. It’s not wrong to be certified in what you know but teachers end up having the mental banner  saying ‘so many books, so little time’ on a constant roll, which brings to my mind, the question: “Can TEFL Teaching be done effectively, without a book?”

TEFL course books can be really useful because they provide you with almost everything you need to deliver a lesson. You’ve got reading texts, grammar, vocabulary exercises and listening, writing and speaking activities. Newer books even have ideas/bits and bobs for projects and activities you can do with your students.

Teachers’ handbooks are convenient and give you a plan that makes it easier to decide on what to do and when to do it.

But is this enough? Isn’t it a bit boring to do the same kind of activities over and over again?

I have heard and used lots of ideas throughout my many years of teaching, which has made TEFL Teaching even more enjoyable for students too.

Here are some fun ones that I have found quite effective ….

  • When TEFL teaching to children, try to use pictures, songs, stories and fairytales to introduce new vocabulary. You can use total physical response (like mime, dancing, playing charades) to make sure that your students have learned the new words.
  • Test your student with crosswords! – this can be popular for all ages.
  • If you are TEFL teaching teens or adults, newspaper/magazine articles or even songs are great conversation starters so you might want to take them in to class because they won’t just help during conversation lessons but will also give you a great lead for a writing project; as homework.
  • Make your students little journalists. Give them the opportunity to write articles about something they are interested in, cover their texts with their own pictures and/or even make videos.
  • Role-plays are also very important  and fun learning technique worth applying often as it lets learners can test themselves in real-life situations.  You can use Skype or any other tool to communicate with other learners around the world.

The possibilities are endless. The question then is, ‘Is it worth it?’.  The answer is “yes”. Students are happy when the teacher keeps them interested. Is it difficult? Not really but you do need to keep “up-to date”, and try to avoid using the same resource twice.

I am not averse to course books; they certainly do give us valuable material to work on, but spicing up your lessons with something less ordinary can make the difference.

Are you a TEFL teacher with questions/tips to share? Feel free to leave your questions and comments below 🙂 Have a great day and happy TEFLing 😉 


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1 comment

  1. I do share the same point of view: I sometimes use course books because they have everything ready for us but classes run much better with materials they don’t know or can’t predict. Less ordinary stuff for me and for my classes also include poetry, songs, segments of films or trailers, outings to the movies or theatre… whatever comes up that is connected to English and can be used to teach them something that in “normal” classes wouldn’t come up.

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