15 Genius Teaching Tips and Travel Hacks for TEFL Teachers
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Time is money.
Work smart, not hard.
Life’s too short for lesson prep*.
*Okay, so maybe we made this one up.
We have many sayings in English which remind us how precious our time is and why we shouldn’t waste it. And we agree wholeheartedly. This is why we love a good hack to save us time (and preferably money, too). If you look anywhere on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter, people love sharing hacks that will make our lives a bit easier and make us look like we’re a whole lot smarter than we actually are. So here are our fave teaching tips and travelling hacks for TEFL teachers.
On the road
Hacks for TEFL teachers #1: Be flexi
It’s not just folklore, there really are cheaper days to travel. A recent report by Expedia states that for international travel, the optimal day to book is Sunday, but to travel is Thursday. It’s generally cheaper to fly during the second half of the week.
As for when you should book, international flights increase in price 28 days before departure, so book more than a month in advance.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #2: Don’t diss the layovers
The prices for flights with long layovers are way more cost-effective than direct flights. Plus, you can do so much with a long layover: explore the city, take a bus tour or chill out at the beach. Many experienced travellers prefer to take even longer layovers (around 24 hours) to explore the country they have never been to. So, they don’t only save money but can also tick another destination off their bucket list.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #3: Go incognito
Some maintain it’s a conspiracy, but why take the chance? Rumour has it that search engines and travel booking sites track your search history through cookies and other tools. The prices of flights you are checking regularly will increase every time you search. To avoid this, turn on incognito mode when searching for flights.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #4: Kon Mari your life
There is no better time to declutter your life. If you’re preparing to travel the world, you don’t want to have to pay for storage for all your worldly possessions. Besides, less is more these days, right?
Before you leave, make some honest decisions about your belongings and decide what you can throw out, donate or sell. Then when it comes time to pack for your adventure abroad, be sure to only pack the essentials.
In the classroom
Hacks for TEFL teachers #5: Learning names
Using your students’ names in the classroom is very important in creating a friendly learning environment in the classroom. But while your students only need to remember one name (yours), you’ll need to remember at least twenty (for one class) and probably more like 100!
When you first teach a class, draw up a plan of the desks on an A4 piece of paper and put it on your desk. Where each student is sitting, write their names on the drawing. During the class, use the plan to remember the names of the students and use them as much as possible. Quickly glancing at the plan on your desk whenever you want to call on a particular student will remind you of their name, and repeating their names throughout the lesson will help you remember them in your next lesson.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #6: Teaching on a budget
If you’re looking for some props for your lessons, there’s no need to go out and buy new props. Instead, look around your house and see what household items you can use for props. If you have any stuffed toys, they make great mascots, or a piece of pretty material or wrapping paper can make a good background for an online classroom.
Mini whiteboards are another great tool in the EFL classroom. Students love writing on the board, and using the mini versions means they can all get a turn to write on them in their groups. There are loads of different classroom games you can do with them too. But rather than spending your dollars on new ones from a stationery shop, you can make your own using hard card or cardboard. You can either cover the card in contact paper or you can laminate it. Either way, you’ll have a perfectly good mini whiteboard basically for free.
Read more: 3 Fun Ways to Use Mini Whiteboards
Hacks for TEFL teachers #7: A challenge folder
If you find yourself prepping extra worksheets to give to your stronger students every lesson, why not make a challenge folder? In the folder, you have a whole series of worksheets on different topics or language structures – think crosswords, word searches, riddles. If a student finishes an activity quickly in a lesson, they simply have to fetch themselves a worksheet to get on with quietly.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #8: Don’t re-invent the wheel
When you start out teaching, planning and lesson prep can take a long time. The thing is, people have been teaching English as a foreign language for a long time and it’s easy to take advantage of that fact – there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Look online and you’ll find loads of websites with free lesson plans and resources. All you have to do is search for your topic or language point and the level of the class.
Read more: 5 Great Websites for EFL Worksheets
Hacks for TEFL teachers #9: Get them talking
There are a few ways you can help quieter classes become more energetic, and uninvolved students become more engaged. The one way is with a ball. Even with adults, bringing the element of a ball into the lesson is intriguing. When you ask a question, throw the ball and whoever catches it must answer the question. They can then throw the ball to someone else for the next question.
The other option is to use pens or rubbers or anything similar. At the beginning of the lesson give each student whatever object you’ve chosen. Whenever they participate in the lesson by volunteering an answer or answering a question, they give the object back to you. The students can’t leave the classroom until they have had their turn.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #10: Saving time
Marking assignments and assessing work can be very time-consuming. Buy a few stamps (stars or dots or unicorns) in different colours to make the process go quicker. While for many assignments you need to make corrections to the language, sometimes you just need to let your student know if the assignment is good, needs some work, or needs to be totally redone. Instead of having to write Please try again. or No corrections needed. or It’s fine but could be better next time. you can just use your stamp and your students will know what it means.
To speed up dividing the class into pairs or groups, use stickers. Buy coloured dot stickers and laminate them. When you need to make a grouping, hand out the stickers. Students can then easily find a partner by finding the other student or students with the same colour sticker.
A day in the life
Hacks for TEFL teachers #11: Read the fine print
When you are considering a job offer, make sure you consider the job carefully. A salary is not just a number, and this applies to online teaching as well as face-to-face teaching.
When teaching online, companies will often quote you a base hourly rate. This can seem quite low but be sure to take into account any bonuses you may be eligible for. Some companies give you bonuses just for being punctual – and that should be a given for any teacher! It’s also useful to think about how much money (and time) you’re saving on commuting – and your daily Starbucks! – so bear that in mind if you’re comparing an online salary to your usual job.
In a school, you must first understand if the monthly salary quoted is inclusive or exclusive of tax. Then, if it includes anything else. If you are given accommodation or a living allowance on top of your salary, that is a huge saving. Any contributions to your flight is a great money saver too. There may also be opportunities for you to earn extra money for after-school or holiday classes, which is a great way to bulk up your salary.
Read more: TEFL Teacher Contracts: A Checklist
Hacks for TEFL teachers #12: Make your home work for you
If you are teaching English online, is it possible to move to a city with a lower cost of living? The beauty of online teaching is that you can work literally anywhere (with an internet connection) so it could be a good idea to move out of the big city and somewhere more remote to save on your living costs. You could even move in with a friend or your partner or your parents to save on costs.
Alternatively, you could moonlight as a housesitter, which means you can be paid for living in a house! This is a really good option if you are a true nomad at heart because the temporary nature of the gig means you will be moving around regularly.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #13: Pinch those pennies
If you are teaching English abroad, find a partner. No, we don’t mean a life partner (though it could be!) but we mean another teacher who is in the same position as you. If both of you are working in the same school or even the same city, you could share accommodation. This will help you save money on all sorts of costs. You can save money on transport, and cooking for two is always more cost-effective than cooking for one.
Speaking of food, if you are living abroad, don’t be afraid of the supermarkets or street food. Many teachers only venture out to the fancy Western-style restaurants or foreign supermarkets that stock the food they are familiar with, but often the local food is more delicious than our own! A good rule of thumb is, if you see a local restaurant is popular with the locals, you know it’s going to be good – and probably good value for money too.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #14: Have a side hustle
Being a teacher, be it online or face-to-face does have the perk of having free time. You could finish work in the early afternoons, or maybe you only work mornings or nights. Either way, if necessary you can use the time to do a little something extra on the side to earn a few extra bucks.
Being a TEFL teacher opens up a host of opportunities for you to pursue as a side hustle. You could be a travel blogger or influencer, a writer or proofreader, or a tutor. You could even teach at a school and then teach online in your time off.
Hacks for TEFL teachers #15: There’s an app for that
When you are new to an area, it can be tricky to get to grips with many things: your neighbourhood, the language, local restaurants. Have no fear – there’s an app for that, and it’s probably free! Download a language and/or translation app to help you with communication in your new hometown. There is more than likely a local taxi app you can utilise too. And don’t forget to download an offline map so that you don’t need wifi to be able to see where you are!
And there you have it, folks. Work smart, not hard. Life can be tough, but there’s no reason we can’t try make it a little easier. And if you have itchy feet, check out our courses to find out which TEFL course is right for you – and take the next step to an adventurous new career teaching English as a foreign language.
Note: This blog post was originally posted in May 2021 but was updated in September 2022.
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We collect and use personal information to offer people information, products and services. This policy will apply in all locations where we operate to all forms of information and to all systems used to collect, store, process or transfer information.
With your prior agreement, we may share your data, such as name, email and CV, with potential employers.
- ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is committed to:
- performing privacy impact assessments to protect the privacy and rights of its customers and employees
- protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information it collects, stores, transfers and processes in accordance with law and international good practice, and meeting its legal requirements and contractual obligations
- explaining why it needs personal information, only asking for the personal information it needs and only sharing personal information within the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD and with other organisations as necessary or where the person concerned has given their consent
- allowing people to request access to the personal information it holds on them and to complain if they believe their information has been mishandled
- not keep personal information for longer than necessary
- taking measures to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals whose personal information may be transferred to countries with differing data protection laws
- ensuring that actual or suspected breaches of information security are reported and investigated
- assessing and measuring the maturity of its information security controls annually
- applying these standards to its supply chain and delivery partners.
We will provide adequate and appropriate resources to implement this policy and will ensure it is communicated and understood.
- We also use other organisations to process your personal information in order to carry out services on our behalf. We use them to:
- Provide customer service, surveys and marketing
- Personalise our services
- Process payments
- Carry out fraud and other legal investigations
Where we use another organisation, we make sure that your personal information is protected and remains in our control.
- We also, in certain situations, share personal information with government bodies and law enforcement bodies. Where we do share personal information with these types of organisations we’ll make sure it’s protected, as far as it is reasonably possible.
We’ll use your personal information to send you direct marketing and to better identify products and services that interest you. We do that if you’re one of our customers or if you’ve been in touch with us another way (such as registering to attend an ELEARNING FUTURES LTD event).
This means we’ll:
- create a profile about you to better understand you as a customer and tailor the communications we send you (including our marketing messages);
- tell you about other products and services you might be interested in;
- try to identify products and services you’re interested in; and
We use the following for marketing and to identify the products and services you’re interested in.
- Your contact details. This includes your name, gender, address, phone number, date of birth and email address.
- Information from cookies and tags placed on your connected devices.
- Information from other organisations such as aggregated demographic data and publicly available sources like the electoral roll and business directories.
- Details of the products and services you’ve bought and how you use them.
We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
You can ask us to stop sending you marketing information or withdraw your permission at any time.
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.