Published 22nd December 2015

Teaching English abroad

Fake news is real, people. And it’s a problem. 

Often we can read a headline or even an entire article without being aware that it’s not actually true. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has spread to teaching English as a Foreign Language.

As Teaching English as a Foreign Language becomes more and more popular, we see more and more myths, misconceptions and misinformation make their way around social media. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is, well, a foreign concept to many people and so the majority of us are not fully aware of what it entails when we first hear of it. Many of us have no idea what it’s all about. And if this is the case then it’s easy to be misled by erroneous information, but it would be a disaster if a case of fake news distracted you from pursuing your dream of teaching English abroad.

Here we look at three so-called facts about TEFL that we hear all the time and that we would like to debunk once and for all. 

Read more: Is My English Good Enough to Teach English as a Foreign Language?

You need to speak the language

Many people can’t imagine how you can teach English to a person who cannot speak a word of English, and you cannot speak a word of their language. For example, it is common sense to think that you need to speak Spanish to be able to teach a Spanish speaker English. However, this is completely not true. 

How else do you teach someone a language if not through translation?

Well, many studies have found that immersion is actually one of the best ways of learning a language. Immersion learning simply means that you are taught the language you are learning with that same language as the language of instruction. So you teach a Spanish speaker English only by using English. In other words, if you are teaching a Spanish learner English and you cannot speak Spanish, then your learner is forced to be immersed in English in the classroom. There is no Spanish in their lessons. They have no choice but to learn English in order to survive the lessons. 

While speaking the language of your students can have some benefits – being able to use translation, for example – it is actually not widely recommended. In fact, many schools will ask you to pretend you cannot speak the language even if you do, just so the students won’t learn to rely on your translation.

Read more: How Can I Teach English Abroad Without Speaking the Local Language?

You must have a teaching qualification

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is teaching, but it is very different to teaching in the context most people know it. Teaching methods and styles are very different in a TEFL classroom than in a mainstream classroom. You don’t need to study teaching in order to teach EFL because you will probably have a TEFL qualification, which is a teaching qualification but specialising in TEFL.

This is why you should do a TEFL course that is both reputable and comprehensive. During the course, you are taught everything you need to know both about teaching and about teaching English so that you will be fully prepared to walk into a classroom and teach. You will learn about English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, lesson planning, classroom management, teaching techniques and learning styles – and so much more.

Enrolling on a 168-hour TFEL course might sound daunting but the truth is, any TEFL course worth the paper it’s printed on is challenging and hard work. A TEFL course is no walk in the park. And you don’t want it to be, either, because you want to be as prepared as possible to step into a classroom.

Read more: 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a TEFL Course

Mother helping her daughter to learn by colouring

You must be in a foreign country

Of course, being in a foreign country often means that there are numerous opportunities for English teachers, but learning English as a Foreign Language in an English-speaking country is becoming more and more popular. While the traditional image of teaching English abroad is usually teaching Young Learners in a country where English is not their first language, there are numerous opportunities for teaching adults in English-speaking countries. 

That’s right, even in the UK or the US!

Read more: TEFL Teaching in the UK

Older learners are realising that living in an English-speaking country is a very effective way to learn the language (immersion learning again!). Students who want to study at a university in England, for example, can do a foundation year learning English in England before they start their degree. This will make sure they are prepared to do their best while studying. 

Other adults who need to learn English for their jobs can go to a language school in, say, Australia for a few months. They will learn English but be exposed to the language on a daily basis as well, which will accelerate their learning. 

Other adults are already living and working or studying in the country, but need to improve their English to improve their daily lives. 

Don’t be fooled!

Then there are also Young Learners who go to an English-speaking country during their school holidays. These learners learn English at a summer camp for a few weeks or a few months. Parents love this because their children are learning English and the children love it because they’re away from home and living their best lives with their friends for a few months.  

Being a TEFL teacher, then, doesn’t actually have to mean that you travel to a faraway land; you can do it in your own country. And that’s one of the joys of teaching: you can choose if you want to stay close to home (or at home) or move further afield. 

In a nutshell, you might come across a few beliefs regarding teaching English as a Foreign Language which might deter you from signing up for a TEFL course. Don’t let them get your knickers in a twist until you find out if they actually hold any water. Follow us on social media or check out the blog to find out everything you need to know about TEFL. If you still need more answers, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you!