Published 25th April 2017

Even though it may sound like and seem like a similar job, being a Teach English as a Foreign Language teacher is very different to teaching in a mainstream situation. This is why there is a qualification dedicated to the profession, and why simply speaking the language does not qualify you to teach it.

For one thing, while conventional teachers are usually expected to teach with only the educational goal in mind – in other words, convey content – we are expected to teach our subject in a fun, interesting way. There is no standing in front of the class lecturing, like a History teacher, or giving our students equations to solve on their own, as Maths teachers do. No, we’re expected to teach our students to communicate in English through games and fun activities, maintaining interest and high levels of motivation while also teaching the language.

We are also expected to create magical lessons out of very little. You may find yourself at a school with very few resources or technology and yet you are expected to complete your job through creativity and ingenuity. You might not have the books you are used to using and yet your students will be waiting expectantly for the magic to begin.

You see, being a TEFL teacher is a skill. Working as a TEFL teacher in different circumstances gives us the experience we need to be able to deal with any situation our working life may throw at us.  Whether or not we have books, whiteboards or overcrowded classrooms, we find a way to make it work.

Adaptability is one of the key characteristics of being a teacher, and one which is essential to your success in the classroom. Being adaptable is not something you can learn from a book, but you will find that over time your ability to adapt is better and you will find it easier to deal with unexpected situations.

This is not only in your teaching life. If you are living in a foreign country, then besides teaching you will be dealing with adapting to a new community as well. And yet, somehow, we all manage. And not only manage, but do amazingly well. We find ourselves coping with situations we never thought we could and enjoying the process. 

What’s the moral of the story?
Being a TEFL teacher is a job which will give you skills for life. And if you find yourself in a challenging situation during your TEFL career, be confident that you will find a way to overcome the challenge and thrive.