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Topics For ESL Teacher Training

If you are new to TEFL/ESL teaching in China and you’ve just finished your ESL Teacher training; you may struggle with lesson planning and ideas.

We have put together a list of topics that you might want to use during your first few classes a TEFL/ESL Teacher.

You are the teacher and you plan your classes as you want. This is just a guide for those that might find it helpful.

1. Greetings

This is probably the most simplest of ESL lessons to teach. You can use this type of lesson with Kindergarten / Grade 1 or Grade 2 Students.

These words might be familiar sounding to some students as they will hear this language a lot of the time in their own culture or on TV.

It’s a good introduction class and will build their confidence with ease.

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 Greetings List

  1. Hello
  2. Good Afternoon / Good Morning / Good Evening.
  3. Hey
  4. Goodbye / See You Later

2. Family

We all have a family (I hope). This is a great topic because some vocabulary words they may already be familiar with.

So use this topic as a confidence boost. Students love talking about their families.

Start with simple words such a Mum and Dad and then incorporate different family members.

Encourage your ESL students to talk about their family members.

First you teach them the keywords such as mum, dad, grandma, grandpa, cousin, uncle and aunty.

Later you can advance the class by using the following questions.

You could ask them questions such as ‘How old is your mum?’.

You could also tie this topic in with Feelings.

And then you could ask them the questions ‘How is your mum today?’

These are for more advanced students.

Questions Variations:

  • Do you have a brother?
  • How old is your grandpa?
  • What does your mum like doing on Saturday?
  • Do you have a sister
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3. Weather

Teaching the weather to young learners is an easy way to get everyday English built into your students vocabulary set. 

Its also a huge part of English conversation.

We’d usually talk about the weather if we don’t know someone. It breaks the ice.

Think about it, if you can teach a four year old to respond to How is the weather today then you are doing a great job.

Question: What’s the weather like today.?

Answer: It’s sunny.   It’s sunny.

                  It’s rainy.

                  It’s cloudy.

                  It’s hot.

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4. Feelings – 

It’s very important to teach young learners about how they can communicate their feelings.

So they can tell you how they feel.

This is great as an introductory class because you can then use it week after week.

Teach them the question ‘How are you?’ and then teach them the replies ‘I’m happy’.

Like we sad this is great as you can ask the this question every time that you see them.

Question: How are you?

Answer: I’m sad.

       I’m happy.

       I’m tired

       I’m hungry.

Finally we will finish with the topic fruit.

Again great as we all love talking about food.

Teach them fruit vocabulary that you think is easy to learn.

Such as Apple, Orange, Pear.

You shouldn’t really go beyond teaching them two to three syllable words because it will get more difficult for your young learners.

Fruit Vocabulary:





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  • Advanced Class: Fruit with Sentence Structure.

For the topic of fruit you can make this more advanced by teaching basic sentence structure such as ‘I like____’.

Use your hands when teaching I like.

When you say ‘I’ tap your own shoulders and when you say ‘like’ place your thumbs up in the air.

The students will understand you more if you add some basic actions to words.

Just like when they learn a new song, there is almost always an action present.

All of the above will help you with your TEFL/ESL teaching but remember to pick a topic that suits your class needs.

To teach the above topics you might need some visual aids such as flash cards, videos or even power-point.

In Shenzhen most schools will have a computer desk sat at the front of the classroom.

TPR Activities For The Classroom

Always make sure its turned on and booted up before class begins.

If you are new to a school they may inform you of the grade you are teaching before you arrive.

So if you are teaching Kindergarten or Grade 1 then expect to use some of the topics from above.

If you are teaching higher grades or higher level classes then use the above topics as skeleton and then flesh out your class.

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