Session 4

Welcome to The Teachers' Room. The show all about teaching practice. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up an armchair and relax. Learn something new, remember something fundamental or just have a giggle.

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

The Teachers' Room

Top tips for giving instructions

What's the best way to give instructions? Join Sian and Dan to find out!

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Did you like that? Why not try these?

Opening Title   masterclass_opening.jpg p042tf7r.jpg


Giving Instructions

Instructions are important
Badly given instructions can ruin an activity. If you have time, plan what to say. Keep your language as short and simple as possible and grade it for your class' level. Think 'What is the minimum amount of information they to do this task?’

Other essentials
Make sure you have 100% of the class' attention before you begin explaining the activity, or you will need to go back and things will become confused.
Don't hand out any material before you have finished your explanation – unless students need to see it to understand.
Don't forget to set a time limit. Students should know how long they have for the task. - be prepared to adjust it in class if necessary.

Low level instructions
It is helpful with lower level classes to write the basic instructions up on the board as notes.
In addition, don't forget that body language is very useful. You can also use a copy of the activity or book to indicate as you explain.

Checking understanding
Try to avoid asking students if they understand. Many will say yes to avoid embarrassment, to please you, or believing they do when they may not fully understand.

Use ICQs (instruction checking questions) to verify if they know the necessary steps of the task. Examples of ICQs could be:

Are we going to talk to our partner?
Are we going to write down everything you hear or just the important information?
Are we going to show our partner the paper?

With trickier tasks ask a confident or more able student to demonstrate with you.

Making things fun
With more advanced learners, why not make things interesting for them by handing out the material first and getting them to discuss what they think they have to do. Then get the groups to check their ideas with the teacher. It is vitally important that the teacher has the final word in recapping the whole set of instructions to clarify and avoid confusion. 

To do

Try our quiz to see if you've picked up our tips.

The Teachers' Room Quiz

5 Questions

Check what you've learned by selecting the correct answer to each question.

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x / y

Get involved

Well, those were just a few ideas that we here at BBC Learning English had, but we know that you teachers out there have lots of fantastic ideas too, and we'd like you to share them with us and everybody else.

If you have a great tip or technique for giving instructions, or anything else, please email us at Your email could be posted here on this page, or may even be mentioned in our show.

We are also looking for video tips to include in the programme. In order to do this, please include whether or not you'd like to be included for video with your tip.

Manuela, Italy

In completely new classes(I work in high schools) I first introduce myself and then throw the ball asking students their names and hobbies.. but sometimes it is frustrating because I forget some students' names. I feel terrible and surely, it is not the best way to start a course!!
So I had the idea to ask them to write their name in big capital letter and to choose for each letter an adjective which describes their personality...As an example  I write my family name on the board as: MILIA = Mysterious, Innovative, Lively, Irascible, Ambition... 
I comment each adjective and invite them to do the same using dictionaries available in the  classroom. I advise them to choose easy adjectives because they will have to explain them to their classmates. 
If time is not enough, they can continue at home as homework and bring creative miniposters (A4 Format) drawing their name and adjectives.The more original, the better!The following lesson they introduce their poster and name and the other classmates will copy their name and adjectives.. Posters will be hung on the classroom wall..

What a great way to open a new class, make everyone feel welcome, get students to introduce themselves and create posters for the classroom which are bound to make students feel that 'this is my space'. Very clever Manuela. Thank you for sharing.

End of Session 4

Next up is Learners' Questions, our brand new series, where we choose one question sent in by an English language learner, and provide an answer. What will this week's question be? Join us in Session 5 to find out.

Session Vocabulary

  • Giving Instructions

    • Think beforehand
    • Use clear language and minimum words
    • Get their attention
    • Use body language and demonstration
    • Set a time limit
    • Use ICQs
    • Demonstrate with a student