Teaching English as a Foreign Language – Top Tips and Lesson Plans

Top Tips

  • Be prepared to just be given a class and told to teach … anything! Have a few tricks up your sleeve/lesson plans from day one.
  • They are interested in learning about your country, your family, your life back home. Bring photos and don’t worry if you think it is not a proper lesson they are probably learning a lot!
  • Show them whose boss! Don’t revert to the stick or ear pinching (still very common in Nepal) but do try and state your authority or they will giggle and chat the whole way through.
  • Don’t assume anything, normal practice from home is not necessarily going to be normal practice in another country. In England children put their hand up to ask a question, this didn’t seem common practice in the school I was teaching in.
  • My kids gave me gifts almost every morning, fruit, flowers, chocolates. I felt bad accepting but graciously accepted and then made sure I treated them all to something at the end of the week to say goodbye and thank you.
  • HAVE FUN. The kids will no doubt be really excited to have you in the class, so stay positive and enjoy, whatever you talk to them about, teach them they are sure to be learning something new and will love the experience of having a foreigner in the class.

Lesson Plans

I gathered lesson ideas from various websites, friends, charities and past experiences. Here are a few of the ideas I taught.

Name Game

Good opening game to get to know the class and see how good their English is.

  • Ask them to each say their name and tell you something they like to do or eat, for the older kids get them to make the thing they do begin with the same letter as their name. e.g. Jenny likes to jump and eat jelly.
  • To make it harder you can turn it into a name train where the person after introduces the person before, and then the next person introduces the last two and so on.


I started this after the name game, explaining that Jenny Jumps is alliteration. I then told them a couple of tongue twisters such as;

Betty bought a bit of butter but the bit of butter Betty bought was bitter

This certainly made them giggle and started some entertaining shouts as people tried to remember and copy the tongue twister.  After I got them to come up with their own alliteration, either two words, three words or more depending on the age and capabilities in the class


First I asked them what rhyming was and to give me examples of words that rhyme. I then read out a few simple poems, asking them which parts of the poem rhyme.

I then picked a few simple words and got them to make a list of all the words that rhyme with them, e.g. dog, log, fog, bog. I taught them the trick of going through the alphabet to get as many words as they can that rhyme, using a mixture of shouting out and quietly writing in their books. (quiet time is sometimes needed :))



It is best to start with a range of examples, maybe focusing on using a type of object, such as animals or flowers

e.g. her laugh was like a hyena, He shouted like an angry lion

I wrote these on the board then after a few more examples rubbed out certain words such as ‘laugh and hyena’ and got them to come up with their own. The kids seem to take to this one really well and were soon coming up with all sorts of ideas, for the older kids I moved on to explain metaphors.


For the second to last class I read out a few different poems getting them to point out any rhyming, alliteration or similes. I then taught them a limerick such as the one below and did the same with the similes removing words and getting them to fill in the blanks to come up with their own.

There was an old man from Bengal,
Who was asked to a fancy dress ball,
He said ok I will risk it,
I’ll go as a biscuit,
But the dog ate him up in the hall.

Again they took to this very well and were soon making up limericks about Jenny from England and themselves from Kathmandu.


This was used for the younger kids who found it harder to understand alliteration and similes. For them I wrote a simple poem with lots of adjectives and got them to change the adjectives and animal to write their own poem.

On my way to school I saw a bear
It was a big bear,
It was a scary big bear,
It was a loud, scary big bear,
It was a fluffy, loud, scary, big bear,
It was a brown, fluffy, loud, scary, big bear,
And it wanted to eat me!

After writing about a different animal I got them to change the poem to be about a member of their family, using adjectives to describe their mum or dad.

Climate Change

I taught the older kids (age 15-16) for one class about climate change. In all honesty about half the class was spent generally chatting to them, they were interested in hearing about the Royal Wedding (yes it got this far), how I have two families (step parents etc) and what the weather was like in England. Which moved on nicely to climate change…

We talked about the weather, including extreme recent natural disasters and how they might be linked to climate change, how the weather effects what we eat, what jobs we do and how changes in the weather could change this.

I asked them to define climate change and then gave them the dictionary definition;

‘periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system’

With only a short amount of time I ended the class with a Climate Change quiz provided by Climate Squad. If you would like the quiz please tweet @climatesquad or email climate.squad@globalactionplan.org.uk


I gathered ideas and resources from the following websites;

SL Volunteers Fun games to teach English to kids

Rafiki – Loads of great lesson plans for Climate Change and loads more. Register to download lesson plans tht include videos, quizes and more.

Teach kids Poetry Lots of useful ideas for teaching poetry and sample poems

Special thanks to my friends Tom Rix and Katherine Anderson for sharing their TEFL lesson ideas.



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6 Responses to Teaching English as a Foreign Language – Top Tips and Lesson Plans

  1. Pingback: One week at the Gange School, Nepal and sooo many memories | Volunteer Addict

  2. Alfonso says:

    Hi Jen!

    Thanks very much for citing Rafi.ki, we are very pleased that you liked the work that we produced. Can I ask in what capacity you use Rafi.ki? Have you been able to use it with your students at all? I don’t know if you know but if you are outside of the UK, Rafi.ki is completely free. Communicating with english speaking children from around the world could be a great way for your students to learn english as a foreign language.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or there is any way in which we can assist you to get the most out of Rafi.ki.

    Thank you for spreading the word about Rafi.ki!


  3. Pingback: First days teaching Kindergarten in Bali | Volunteer Addict

  4. DAMANGO says:

    It the most helpful work about teaching. courage for the rest of the way.
    Thanks a lot and “happy new year

  5. raquel robledo says:

    i love it very much. im an english teacher in vietnam and having tutorials for beginners. i got a lot of ideas from this.. thank you.

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