Even for experienced teachers, teaching English in a new environment can be challenging. But if it’s done right it can also be a hugely rewarding and impactful experience. The purpose of these resources is to enable IVHQ volunteers to plan lessons and deliver effective support to local teachers while working on a teaching project. The resources were developed in consultation with experienced volunteers and with input from the Principal of a community-based school on IVHQ’s Cambodia program, but have been adapted for use across all of IVHQ’s teaching projects. There is a lot of useful content in these resources but please also adjust and amend them to suit the needs and location of your class. Before using the resources, please consider the following key tips on how to be a valuable and effective teacher abroad:
Regardless of how experienced you are as a teacher, it’s essential that you spend time planning each and every lesson. This can be a little time-consuming but it’s an important step to ensure your teaching efforts can be as effective and impactful for students as possible. Good planning will also make the experience more rewarding for you as a volunteer.
Speak to the placement staff about whether volunteers have left handover notes detailing the progress of students, or specific lesson plans suggesting content that needs to be covered.
These resources provide a broad framework for what should be taught but do not provide exhaustive content. Each unit in each grade could easily be applied to between 3 and 5 lessons, but this needs to be supplemented with additional activities and lesson ideas. It is the role of volunteers to develop their own learning activities to support those identified in the curriculum guide for each Grade. Use the Lesson Plan template provided below to consider how you will structure each class.
2. Dress code
Earning the respect of a class is important for any teacher and good starting point is showing students and other school staff that you know how to show respect yourself. Dressing in a way that respects the rules of the school and is deemed appropriate by the local culture and customs is one of the most powerful ways that you can earn respect when you start volunteering in a school. Be guided by how the local teachers dress and ensure your clothing is always clean, tidy and culturally appropriate. If you are uncertain about what to wear please discuss it with project director or a member of IVHQ’s local team.
3. Classroom management
You will find that students are energetic and eager to learn. But that doesn’t mean that they will sit silently in class listen attentively to everything you say – they are children and behave as children do all over the world. If they cannot understand you, or if the lesson is going too fast or too slow for them they will become inattentive and talkative.
Students typically behave best when engaged in meaningful work and if they can’t understand the work, or do not comprehend what they are being asked to do then they will move off-task and turn their attention to one another and not the teacher.
Producing a handover document is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the continued learning and advancement of students. A handover document is a short summary of what you’ve covered with the class and it aims to give incoming volunteers a brief induction to the students, their level of understanding and their advancement through the curriculum to date.
Before you start on your teaching project, speak to the program staff about whether handover documents have been produced, and remember to produce your own handover when you finish up.
- Have clear objectives and a plan for each lesson
- Use local language, even if it is just to say ‘hello’ and ‘my name is’
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Provide clear, concise instructions using language that the class will understand
- Make sure that all the class can hear you
- Provide a variety of activities each lesson that are interesting and engaging
- Pace your lessons appropriately
- Deal with off-task behaviour on an individual basis rather than at the class level
- Issue regular tests and mark work regularly
- Celebrate student success
- All produce a handover document for the next volunteer
- Ask for help and guidance from the local team if you need it
- Dress appropriately
Please download and use the following templates and curriculum guides.