Teaching abroad has become a small phenomenon among travellers and education enthusiasts alike. Not only can you get a good job in most corners of the world, but many people go on to find it becomes a passion, giving people a ticket to the world through learning English. 

Although being a native English speaker (NES) definitely puts you at the front of the queue, there are roles for anyone who is fluent in English. Qualifications range from online teaching English as a second language (TESOL) certificates to Bachelor and Education Degrees. The demand for English teachers is larger than ever. With English being the world’s universal language and the ability to travel easier than ever, non-native English speaking nations want to the tools to engage with the world.

Once you’ve decided you want to try teaching overseas, and you’ve acquired your necessary qualification to get your foot in the door, it’s time to start planning your lessons! After all, you’re going to be the centre of attention for students who are looking to you to become more fluent in English. No pressure! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Pro tip: We all feel the nerves when we teach for the first time. It’s normal but you learn from it and become more confident as you go.

Who Are You And Where Are You From?

Your students will inevitably curious about who you are and where you come from. Some might even speak up and ask, my students did in Hong Kong! This is a great way to get a lesson going if you’ve got the time and freedom to do so.

Get talking about who you are and what country you’re from. You can use a map to show your country and then get the students to point to other countries they might know. Introductions leave a long-lasting impression, so if you can take charge and be assertive with your lessons, the students are more likely to respect you.

Remember, this is a learning experience for the students, make sure you make the most of it. Get everyone involved by writing and explaining where they are from.

Reading With The Class

Once you’ve got all the introductions out the way, another great activity is reading. Whether you’re following the set lesson plans, a curriculum or the school has given you a chance to be creative yourself, and reading is a great way to get everyone involved.

Decide on something suitable for their skill level, then ask the students which one wants to read first! This is also a great way to gauge which students are going to be enthusiastic and determined in class. By asking the students to read aloud, you’re aiming to build up their confidence in speaking and at the same time, getting them to practice their pronunciation.

This exercise can help you judge which students may need an extra boost of confidence. Depending on the class’s skill level, you can also read with them and ask the students to underline any words they don’t understand and explain the meanings of the words by writing them on the board and creating some classroom discussion.

Play A Game

Games are a great way to get students interacting with each other. They’re fun, engaging and allow students to think less about having to learn. In my experience, primary student, aged 5-6 absolutely LOVE playing games.

Whatever it is, whether it’s playing modern versions of ‘hangman’, or re-enacting a passage from a book taking turns being a character, the kids love to play games. One suggestion could be asking each student to name a topic, and then others begin naming verbs associated with that topic.

It’s a great way to get them thinking but in a fun and easy way. If you’ve got playgroup students, simple activities are always good ways to get them started. These could include naming the colours of things or building Lego and explaining what they make.


Phonics is an English teaching method that helps link sounds with the correct words visually. Essentially, this breaks down the word and helps the students identify the parts that make up a word.

Using the easier pronunciations of the first letters of one-syllable words is a great starter, and you’ll find your students will learn the sound of words much easier.

For example, trying to use the ‘sh’ to remember these words:
sh - ade (shade)
sh - op (shop)
sh - ip (ship)

It can be fun to use phonics in class because it’s a way to get everyone involved and depending on the words, can be fairly easy to teach!

Musical Songs 

My first teaching lesson was back in 2012, in Laos. I was advised to end the lesson with a song (always try ending the lesson on a high). I don’t know how it came about, but the ‘wheels on the bus go round and round’ was the chosen song that I had to sing.

But, despite my awful singing, the repetition worked! How the song tails off at the end ‘allllll day longgg’ the sound of that tone really helped the students, and they began to remember the words. I couldn’t believe it!

Nowadays, whether it’s your own voice that makes the sounds or beneficial musical songs from your chosen tablet or smartphone, music is proven to be an excellent way to keep students attention and for them to associate the sounds with the words. This allows the words to stick, and that means you’re doing your job!

Ready to head off on the teaching adventure of a lifetime? All you need to do is decide where you want to go. 
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