Published 11th February 2016

When you take your TEFL course you will soon realise that there is a lot going on. The TEFL course can be quite an information overload as you are introduced to a wide range of theories of learning, methods and approaches to teaching, and general advice and tips for the classroom. Of course what’s more, besides the teaching, is the fact that you need to know your English grammar too.

While you should find yourself surviving the course and keeping up with the workload, the real work starts when the course is over and you find a TEFL job. The trouble is, it’s obviously impossible to cover absolutely everything you need to know during your TEFL course and once you stop constantly reading and doing assessments and assignments, that information is going to fade away.

Don’t worry too much if this happens to you, because it happens to everyone. Especially when you are a newbie teacher, nobody expects you to know everything or to have all the answers. The key to your success as a TEFL teacher is to be open to learning constantly and to keep up your own professional development. What does this mean exactly? If you are not clear on something, look it up. If you don’t understand a concept or don’t know how to explain it simply, ask someone. Having some kind of difficulty in your classroom? Try and find a solution.

Even your students understand that we don’t know everything. So if you are asked a question you’re not sure of you can either get the student to look up the answer for homework, or you can do it and report back in the next class. It’s important that you admit that you don’t know or you’ve forgotten, because students can tell you’re lying from a mile away. Plus, the worst scenario you can have is passing on false information.

So, as a TEFL teacher, here are a number of reference books you should have in your bookcase, for just such occasions.

1. The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer

2. Learning Teaching, James Scrivener

3. Grammar for English Language Teachers, Martin Parrott

4. Teaching Unplugged, Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings

5. Practical English Usage, Michael Swan

These 5 books are what we recommend you buy for yourself to last you your career. The first two cover the theories and approaches to teaching, as well as practical classroom ideas; Parrot and Swan are highly recommended for grammar reference; and Teaching Unplugged offers loads of ideas for the classroom which don’t involve materials. Throughout your years teaching you will find yourself going back to these books time and time again.