Refuge Module 4

Module 4: Teaching Skills

(Approximate time to complete: 30 minutes)

It’s a tough job to serve refugees, but at the same time, it’s incredibly rewarding. Your passion, ideas and lesson plans can help students develop a love of learning from the get-go. Some of your students will have never attended formal schooling. That said, it’s critical for you to adopt a structured teaching style that will work best for the students in your class. 

Of course, you work with students from different communities, religious backgrounds, and ethnicities, and no two students learn the same way. To be the most effective teacher, it’s important to incorporate a variety of teaching styles. Which ones will work best for your class? 

Teaching Styles: Everything you need to know about teaching methods and strategies 

Teaching styles, also called teaching methods, are considered to be the general principles and management strategies for class instruction. Will you teach through lectures, demonstrations, group work, or hands-on activities? 

Why have different teaching styles? 

Why can’t everyone be taught the same way? Well, why can’t you learn something the same way as your next-door neighbor? Everybody learns different ideas at different times and at different paces. Some people can learn something on the first try after being told what to do, while others might need to have hands-on experience in order to learn, and possibly repeat it a few times to really get the hang of things (Common, 2018). 

Different teaching styles are necessary because the students need to be able to learn what the teacher is teaching. However, the choice of teaching styles used can depend on the class demographics, the educational philosophy of the teacher, and, most importantly, the subject matter. 

Types of teaching styles

There are four main types of teaching styles and methods to choose from. 

The Authority method, also known as the lecture style, involves sitting and listening to the instructor speak about a topic while the students take notes and memorize what is being said to the best of their ability. This teaching style is more popular in universities and some high schools, due to a large student population. However, it is less common when working with refugees due to its lack of student participation and inability to meet individual needs. This is often not the most effective teaching method for teaching refugees (Bohren, 2018). 

The Demonstrator method is similar to the lecture style. Even so, instead of using only a verbal lecture to give information and teach, this style coaches students using tools like class activities and live demonstrations. For subjects like music, art, and physical education subjects, this style is perfect because demonstration is usually necessary for students to understand the subject. This method works well when you want students to mimic your demonstration and can be used when language barriers prevent in-depth explanations (Bohren, 2018). 

The Facilitator style, recognized also as the activity or action method, tries to encourage self-learning through peer-to-teacher learning. In contrast to the lecture style, teachers ask students questions rather than give them the answers. The goal is for students to develop a deeper understanding of the topic by using self-discovery and developing problem-solving skills. This technique is best used in small class settings because, as a facilitator, the teacher needs to interact with students on an individual basis, which can be difficult with a larger number of students.

This method may be difficult when teaching refugees due to language barriers, and is best used in groups where students have at least an intermediate level of English skills (Bohren, 2018). 

The Delegator style, or group method, is used for subjects that require group work or peer feedback. For example, language learning classes do well with group interaction. The teacher acts as a delegator, becoming an observer to promote student-to-student learning. This method can work well with refugees if you are teaching language classes or have a student who speaks English and can translate your lessons to other students as they lead a small group activity in your class (Bohren, 2018). 

Teaching Approaches 

Teaching styles can be further categorized into two approaches: the teacher-centered approach and the student-centered approach. Which approach will work best for your lessons? 

Teacher-Centered Approach 

In the teacher-centered approach to learning, the students put their attention on the teacher, students work alone, and collaboration is prevented. This is great because students are, in theory, quiet and paying full attention to the teacher while being able to make individual decisions. However, a student may suffer in their communication skills and feel unable to ask questions due

to the fact that they normally work alone. Plus, this classic method is sometimes thought of as dull and uninteresting (Bohren, 2018). 

Direct instruction is a method that uses little technology and relies on lecturing. The teacher may also take on the expert role where students can be referred to as “empty vessels” because they are viewed solely as receptors of information and knowledge. The other role a teacher can take on in the direct instruction method is that of a personal model. This method uses the teacher as a model of instruction to lead by example with demonstrations, and students learn by observation 

(Bohren, 2018). 

Student-Centered Approach 

In a student-centered approach to learning, teachers and students share the focus and interact equally while the teacher still maintains authority. This can be helpful to students, because group work is encouraged. However, due to the fact that students are talking, the environment may be noisier and more difficult to manage (Bohren, 2018). Be sure to have an effective method for regaining control of the class. It’s helpful to have a certain sound that signals the class that it’s time to stop talking and pay attention to the teacher. This signal should be explained to the students before the group discussion begins, and the signal can be given by three loud hand claps or other easy sounds. 

By using demonstrations and being the personal model comparable to the personal model in the direct instruction, the teacher acts as the guide and mentor to help enable students to learn by observation and copying the teacher’s actions. By using the delegator method, teachers act as a support for students, are able to answer questions, and, most importantly, are there to provide a sense of freedom and independence for the student (Bohren, 2018). 

Another method often used is the cooperative learning style, where students work in small groups and the teacher can act as the facilitator, where everyone learns together, or as the delegator, where the teacher gives more free-reign to the student while still pointing them in the right direction (Bohren, 2018).

Importance of Kinesthetic Learning in the Classroom 

REFUGE volunteers usually do not have access to high-tech learning. Instead, they opt for a low-tech approach to teaching by using a technique called kinesthetic learning. Also known as tactile learning or hands-on learning, kinesthetic learning is a teacher-centered approach that uses physical activities to learn. Examples of kinesthetic learning include drawing, touching objects, hands-on manipulatives, flash cards, role-playing, games, and building physical objects. The more senses involved in learning, the more learning occurs. This teaching style rarely uses technology and puts a stronger emphasis on movement and creativity. Because of this, it’s a cheap and screen-free teaching style (Common, 2018). 

Proven to be the most effective in a number of ways, an active, kinesthetic learning style is best suited for interactive classes. The best teaching methods for active learning can be summarized in this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” 


Make your lessons as hands-on and engaging as possible. Here are some examples of ways to do this: 

In an English language class, you could use the following activities in your lessons:

Fly Swat 

Fly Swat is one of the best ways to review vocabulary while getting the whole class physically engaging in an activity. 

Set Up: 

1. Create flashcards for the target vocabulary you will be reviewing. 2. Stick the flashcards a wall or board in a random order. 

3. Split the class into two teams and have them line up in front of the board. 

How to Play: 

1. Each team sends one person to the front, and they are given a fly swatter. 2. Read a word aloud, and the first student to find it on the board and swat it wins a point for their team! 

To make it more challenging, you can also ask questions or definitions. Don’t forget to let the students hit only one word per turn to prevent them from hitting as many words as possible (Melnik, 2018). 


Charades is a classic game all students love and is an excellent choice for kinesthetic learners. It allows them to use their whole body while having fun reviewing vocabulary (or even grammar). 

Set Up: 

1. Create cards with the target vocabulary. You can choose from animals to sports and even action verbs. 

2. Write one word on each card and mix up the order. 

3. Split the class up into two groups. 

How to Play: 

1. Each team nominates one person to go and select a card. 

2. The student then has to act out the word while their teammates guess the word. 3. If their team gets it right, they get one point. 

4. Rotate between the two teams until you have reviewed all the vocabulary. 5. The team with the highest score at the end wins (Melnik, 2018).

Simon Says 

Another classic children’s game perfect for kinesthetic learners is Simon Says. It’s a great game to play with students to help them improve their listening skills, while at the same time drilling vocabulary. 

While the most common way to play Simon Says involves pointing to different body parts, there are tons of ways to put your own spin on it and make it more challenging. 

Ask students to find objects around the classroom, touch certain colours, practice specific actions or attempt more difficult tasks like “Simon says pat your head and rub your belly.” 

So there you go! Spruce up your lesson planning with these three great kinesthetic learner games, and start catering to your learners’ different needs. 

While not every single student learns best this way, it’s a break from the monotony and a great way to have fun with the whole class (Melnik, 2018). 


On each REFUGE trip, participants will have the opportunity to lead out in teaching refugees from diverse age groups and backgrounds. Though a classroom setting would be ideal, often such facilities are not available on our trips, and lesson plans should be designed to work in other more informal settings such as on some picnic tables, or even just together sitting on the ground. Realize that the kids will be excited to participate wherever you are. 

Consider how to best apply some of the teaching techniques described above in your own lesson plans. Practice your lesson plans and gather supplies for any activities you will use while teaching on your trip. The more prepared participants come with ideas, lesson plans, and supplies, the more effective and fulfilling the teaching experience will be for participants and refugees alike. 


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