Tips for English Teachers

English teachers have the opportunity to shape not just their students' reading and writing skills, but also their world view, by introducing them to new and classic authors. If you're considering a future as an English teacher, apply the following 7 teaching tips:

1. Be Intentional about Choosing a Variety of Authors

Don't just choose your favorite authors to feature in your English classes. Make sure that you are offering your students a variety of authors and styles when you put your syllabus together for the semester or the year.

Effectively teaching about a novel requires more than a cursory skim of the material. Make sure that you read each novel several times, once for the general plot, and a second or third time to look for examples of specific components that you want to teach your English students, such as foreshadowing or figurative language.

2. Teach Your Students about Plagiarism

Particularly in the Internet age, plagiarism abounds. Even among educated adults, there is an incorrect perception that anything found online is considered to be "public domain" material, and therefore does not require attribution to the original author. As an English teacher, it is your responsibility to dispel this myth for your students and teach them, very intentionally, what plagiarism is and how they can avoid it.

3. Teach Many Different Types of Writing

Today's graduates will need to be proficient not just at writing term papers, but also at informative writing, descriptive writing, technical writing, and persuasive writing. Make sure that you include all of these types of writing assignments into your lesson plans.

4. Require Your Students to Keep Journals

Journal writing is an excellent way to foster your students' personal enjoyment of writing. "Journaling" also opens a wide array of teaching topics. For example, you can use this journal as a way of opening a discussion about online privacy protection, student bullying, etc.

5. Allow Free-Writing Exercises

Give your students opportunities in class to write for ten or fifteen minutes, uninterrupted, about anything they choose. These types of free-writing exercises can help young writers find their voice and begin to sense the enjoyment and release that can accompany the practice of writing.

6. Teach Your Students Decoding Skills for New Vocabulary Words

We often think of decoding skills as applying only to beginning readers, but students who are preparing for the SAT or ACT tests will need to be able to dissect unfamiliar words in order to determine their meaning. Therefore, the more you can teach your students how to decode words, and reflect on their meaning, the better prepared they will be for the vocabulary portions of their college entrance exams.

7. Find a Mentor

Finally, as an English teacher, find a mentor that you respect who can make suggestions about how to teach certain novels, or how to present a specific form of writing that you want to share with your students. In addition, working with a mentor in your field will help you maintain your creativity and enthusiasm for your students and the important work you are doing as an English teacher.

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