Teaching Exam-Oriented Courses

When it comes to teaching exam-oriented courses, it is best to stick to the material in the official preparatory textbook that is written just for a particular exam such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Preliminary English Test.

It is fine to expand a lesson based on the testing skills being taught in the textbook, but make sure that at the end of the lesson, the skill is thoroughly understood in the same way as it will be presented to the students in the actual exam. Especially with the older students, they will be demanding, wanting to make sure that they know what they need to know for the exam. Some, especially the business English students, may be bored and say that all of the material you are covering is easy and redundant for them. If teaching employees of the same company, make sure that all of them have been given an assessment test to determine their current level of English. If they have been tested and you still see the need to switch out a student or two, make sure you let your boss know so the classroom dynamic remains fair and balanced, and all students are on more or less the same level.

You might be tempted to ask some of your students from your classes, especially if you get along with them well or believe that they need extra help, if they would be interested in private lessons. Or sometimes they will ask you themselves how much you charge for private lessons. This can be tricky because if you actually read the fine print of your contract with the school or language academy, you may not be allowed to give private lessons to their students, due to the fact that you might be luring them away from enrolling in more classes or even removing themselves from the class they are currently in.

If you are caught in breach of this clause, you may be fined, fired, and/or asked to reimburse the school from your salary. If you really think you can make more with private lessons, then remove yourself from the staff of the school that is employing you before you begin your private lessons. Some contracts, however, will stipulate that even after you leave the school as an employee, you must wait a period of anywhere from 6 to 12 months to offer private lessons. This, of course, will vary from school to school.


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