Published 5th April 2016

We all know teaching English as a Foreign Language usually requires superhuman strength, intelligence, compassion and loads of patience, and it often feels like we are not appreciated or our efforts are going nowhere fast.

However, it may comfort you a little to realise there are 5 simple things you can do as a TEFL teacher to become more effective and so save your sanity:

1. Limit your planning

Possibly the biggest time-waster for a TEFL teacher is lesson planning. Often we are so unsure of ourselves and we are trying so hard to plan the perfect lesson that we can spend more time planning than actually doing the lesson.

Limiting your planning time will make sure you don’t spend your entire day working. Over time you will find that having less time to plan can be better for your planning. So give yourself a deadline or a time limit and stick to it.

Chances are, your 50 options for one lesson are all pretty similar anyway, so pick one and move on.

2. Use the real world

Remember that your classroom is not a bubble. It exists in the real world and your students relate to the real world on a daily basis so there is no reason it should be any different in the EFL classroom. By using real-world scenarios and authentic texts you are helping your students transfer their English knowledge from the classroom to their lives outside the classroom.

Once you bring the real world into your classroom, you’ll find that there are so many connections to be made between your teaching materials and your students’ lives.

In turn, your students will find your lessons more memorable and your teaching will be more effective.

3. Stop talking

Even though we often assume teachers need to be the ones speaking, it is actually better for our students to be the ones doing the talking. Keep your talking to a minimum – to giving instructions, prompting your students and giving feedback. Otherwise, hold yourself back and give your students the chance to speak. Don’t worry if there are some awkward silences; your students need time to process and formulate, so they probably don’t notice the silences as much as you.

Besides allowing your students time to think, reflect and contribute, being quiet also gives you more energy. Taking a step back will mean that you will be doing less and so expending less energy.

4. Be realistic

Even though we all want to be the best teachers we can be, we have to accept that we are not always on top form and lessons don’t always go our way. Sometimes our lessons are amazing, other days they are horrendous. What matters is not your last lesson, but your consistency.

If you are able to accept that sometimes things don’t go as planned, you will be able to recover from those days quicker and go back to being your brilliant self.

5. Have office hours

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a crazy job and it can take its toll on even the most enthusiastic teacher. Try to get all your work done during your school hours, so that your home can be a work-free zone. If that’s not possible, set yourself normal office hours, so you can know when to unplug and stop working.

Burnout is a very real issue for TEFL teachers so it’s important that you make sure you have a good work-life balance.

By following these 5 simple guidelines, we hope you will continue to enjoy being a TEFL teacher by being the best TEFL teacher you can be.