ESL Classroom Rules

Classroom rules are a core principle of classroom management. Effective ESL classroom rules will help support you throughout your TEFL journey, making your classroom the best possible environment for learning.
If you are at the beginning of your TEFL career, you may be tempted to revert to the classroom rules you had in your school as a child. Alternatively, you may be hesitant to impose classroom rules at all! If either of these sound familiar, the below ESL classroom rules should help to guide you through those first few, nervous classes.

1. “3,2,1 quiet!”

The classroom can be a noisy place. Perhaps the lesson has gone off its chartered course, or maybe the students have just become massively invested in your activities. Either way, it can be difficult to teach when you can’t hear yourself think! Enforcing this rule should make it clear to the student than when you begin counting down from three, silence is expected.

A British flag

2. “We speak English!”

Most TEFL teachers will not speak the native-tongue of the country they teach in. This is not a problem, and most schools are happy with this as it means that your classroom will provide an immersive English experience. However, sometimes your students will slip into their own language. This will happen most often when you have assigned group work. If you notice this when you are monitoring your class, gently remind the children that in your lesson, we speak English.

A classroom with children raising their hands

3. “Raise your hand!”

When you ask your class questions you may find yourself overwhelmed by an overly eager response from pupils who, in their excitement, have no time to raise their hand. This is not great for you, nor the students. Try to get the class into the habit of raising their hand to speak. Gently enforce this by simply ignoring those who do not follow this rule – they will fall in line eventually!

4. “No Books”

“No books?!?”I hear you gasp. Well…yes! This may be a surprising rule given that you are in a school, but for a lot of your lessons your pupils are not going to need books. Implementing a clear desk policy (when able) will help you to make sure that the students are focussed on your lesson, and not on sneakily doing homework for another subject. Also, this can help prevent the pupils from reading ahead while you are talking and will simply improve the focus of everyone in the classroom.

Tom Bogues

Tom is the Director of ESL Job Center. He has been working in the TEFL industry in one form or another since 2016 and is now using that experience to match quality teachers with quality schools across China.