Many teachers in current times are teaching English to non-native speakers or speakers of other languages. The settings of such classes vary widely: to acquaintances, friends, as a hobby, a part-time job, on a volunteer basis, or for charity, etc.

Even if your mother tongue is English, it does not qualify you to become an English teacher. For this, you need to be trained in courses like ESL, EFL, or TESOL. One can gain such certifications easily with perseverance, including online options like TESOL courses online.

The following tips will help you to assimilate your students who are non-native speakers of English:

Use of visual aids

Visual aids like pictures and diagrams are highly useful since non-native speakers of English may not possess the same point of reference as native speakers who are teachers. It will help if you use more and more charts, diagrams, Powerpoint presentations, videos, and pictures in order to link words to concepts for better performance of students.

Note that you should use pictures that are age-appropriate. For instance, a kindergarten student will be pleased with cute cartoon images, while adults will prefer images of adults. One can make one’s own visual aids by printing pictures from online sources or cutting pictures from magazines.

Get help with grammar

Teaching English grammar is a tricky task because there are several exceptions to word forms, irregularities, rules, etc. Even if you don’t require knowledge of the rules of grammar, you will possibly require some help in order to provide explanations for the same.


When making use of a particular expression, the word form or tense is a good skill, but an even more powerful skill is to know how to explain such rules to others. It is highly recommended that one should get a good reference source for English grammar as soon as possible. Yet another option to rue upon is that a grammar guide at the university level may not be suitable for teaching non-native speakers. It is better to go in for more basic guides that you can find from pursuing a TESOL certificate.

Keep things simple

When you are teaching English as a second language, it pays to avoid complexity. Begin with texts which feature basic structures of sentences, verb tense, and word order, including some irregular verbs. Make use of simple vocabulary, and you should not progress to more complicated grammar rules till your students have mastered the basics. For instance, you can move from the basic structure of sentences to sentences featuring simple verbs, subordinate articles, and phrases. Next, you can proceed to more complicated clauses and verbs.

Often, English teachers attempt to do too much, too fast. But the best way to teach is to focus on simply one function or use, especially on a specific point. An example is the use of ‘have got’ as a possessive term. ‘He has got a car’ is mostly the same as ‘ he has a car’. In place of working vertically (for uses of ‘have’), you are using the term horizontally (use of ‘have’ to indicate possession). This helps keep things simple for your student.

Avoid lectures that are too long

TESOL students may lag behind in comprehending lectures. This implies that you must use changes in teaching structure to combine short lectures with hands-on training and much interaction.

In situations where the delivery of lectures is inevitable, you should utilize visual accessories for enhancing comprehension. In case you possess a projector, upload the outline of the subject of your lecture for the students to peruse as they listen.

You may use diagrams, videos, and pictures to aid them in visualizing the subject of the topic on which you are lecturing. This will aid in improving the comprehension of students when you are teaching them.

Use oral communication to the maximum

A useful tip for teaching TESOL students is to depend heavily on oral communication. The overall comprehension of students will improve more when you encourage students to talk to each other and to you in English.

Group activities are a great way to promote oral communication. After students learn how to speak in English, assign them in pairs or groups to converse, communicate and read. The more is the practice of such skills, the better they will master English. Such activities also make them less afraid of talking with compatriot students.

Impart the four skills of language

Mastering any language involves the use of four main skills of speaking, listening, writing and reading. The majority of students master such skills to gain proficiency in English.

Following are some activities to learn the language:

  • Listening to interactive podcasts
  • Reading aloud.
  • Exchanging letters with pen-pals
  • Conversing with fellow students and teacher
  • Reading stories and summarizing them for others
  • Watching movies with English subtitles.
  • Making a recording of you reading a text and then transcribing it, listening to the audio.
  • Engaging in a conversation with fellow students and responding back and forth.
  • Reading a story along with a fellow student, noting down crucial details, reading them aloud, and getting your partner to read aloud, too.

In sum, while teaching English to non-native speakers, the objective is to teach them to listen, speak, read and write in the language. The above tips that can be gleaned from TESOL courses online can help you do the same.