Published 2nd August 2017
You might be thinking about getting a TEFL Certification. You may have already done a TEFL course and are looking for a TEFL Internship, TEFL volunteer position or a TEFL Job. If so you are probably wondering exactly what qualities should a good TEFL teacher have?
Having the theoretical knowledge of how to teach English as a foreign language is one thing, but how you are in the classroom – your manner and how you relate to your students – is something completely different. There’s no need to worry. We are all capable of being good TEFL teachers. If we can try to follow these principles then we’ll be demonstrating the qualities which make a good TEFL teacher.
What Qualities Should a Good TEFL Teacher Have?
Students are naturally interested in you as a person. There is no need to pretend to be someone you’re not. Especially if you’re teaching abroad, students want to find out about you as a person. At the same time, they will appreciate it if you want to find out about their lives and interests. Showing an interest in your students and being genuinely interested will create a good, comfortable relationship between you and your students. Building up that trust will motivate students to participate in class, follow the rules and create a good community.
Being a TEFL teacher means juggling the personalities, interests and learning needs of all your students, which is no easy task. One way to ensure the learning environment in the TEFL classroom is the most effective is to be open and communicative. Try to make your lessons as student-centred as possible and give your students autonomy in the classroom. It will make them feel more valued and it’ll actually make your job easier!
Being open also means being culturally aware and culturally sensitive. As an EFL teacher teaching English abroad, you are likely to be immersed in a foreign culture or be exposed to many different cultures if you are teaching in a multicultural setting. Being aware of the differences between cultures is a necessity for maintaining a mutually respectful environment.
Creating a solid lesson plan is vital for any TEFL lesson in order for you to execute an effective lesson but it doesn’t have to take up all your time. Being prepared will give you more confidence as a teacher and will help you think on your feet when necessary. Fortunately, any internationally recognised TEFL course will prepare you adequately for any challenges you may face in the TEFL classroom. There are also lots of extra resources you can find online for your students. Having an organised lesson will help you manage your time effectively so you don’t struggle to fill in the time or finish the lesson too quickly.
Being an EFL teacher is different to other teaching jobs. The theories of learning are different to other subjects because English is taught as a means of communication. As such, the format of your EFL lessons will differ to Science or Maths lessons, for example. As an EFL teacher you need to be able to think on your feet to be able to deal with any deviations in your lesson plan. Working in a language school you might be teaching a variety of class levels and sizes throughout the week.
You must be flexible with your lessons and be able to adapt methods for each class. Teaching a group of 20 young learners in a class will be different than teaching 12 adult intermediate learners. Being able to embrace and adapt any situation into a chance to learn, will help you be the best EFL teacher. In addition to adapting to each situation, EFL teachers abroad should be willing to embrace new situations as a learning experience.
Having a sense of humour
Learning a foreign language can be dull and the one thing we need to be sure of as teachers is that our students are motivated to come to class. Bringing your sense of humour and a sense of fun into the classroom will ensure that your students enjoy coming to class and are open to the learning experience. Try incorporating a balance of fun games and activities that require participation to inspire and motivate students.
Patience is a critical quality needed in teaching. It is a virtue, isn’t it? A good teacher is very patient with students and able to listen and understand them without becoming frustrated. Learning a second language is challenging, particularly for adult learners. Everyone learns at different speeds and some students will make the same mistakes over and over. EFL teachers also need to be patient with themselves. It can be overwhelming navigating a new job in a foreign country or online learning platform. If you find yourself getting too worked up, take a moment, and take a deep breath when you need too.
A good TEFL teacher not only has confidence in themselves, but also instills confidence in their students. When you first begin teaching English as a foreign language you’ll probably feel nervous. If you can try to look confident teaching then your students will feel confident too. Surely you’ll become more comfortable the more you practice, but initial assurance will gain your students’ trust. Set defined goals with your students either at the beginning of the school year or before each lesson. Building students’ confidence helps boost self esteem and learning outcomes.
You’ll need to be able to communicate well if you want to teach English as a foreign language. The ability to explain topics clearly and constructively is essential for students’ ability to learn. Good teachers must have strong interpersonal skills to work collaboratively with colleagues. They ask for help from colleagues and use constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow as a teacher.
A genuine enjoyment and passion for teaching English as a foreign language makes for a good TEFL teacher. If you believe education is a fundamental right and want to make a difference in people’s lives then teaching is highly rewarding. If seeing your students learn and grow over the course of a year brings you joy, then teaching could be for you. While one should feel passionate about being an educator, it might not be your main reason for becoming a TEFL teacher. The TEFL industry opens many doors for working abroad and traveling, and as long as you see your position more than just a way to facilitate a certain lifestyle then do a TEFL course and start your adventure today.
Practices self reflection
A good teacher should drive for self-improvement. Reflecting objectively in our own teaching methods, lessons, and interpersonal skills helps us see where we can improve. If we want our students to do their best, then shouldn’t we be trying as well? When TEFL teachers can self assess and know where to focus our attention, we can become better educators.
There are many qualities that a TEFL teacher should have in order to be an effective teacher. These are by no means the only qualities you need to have, but these will provide a good foundation for any TEFL teacher. Don’t think that if you don’t have these qualities that you’re not a candidate for teaching, as long as you are ready to work hard and have your own motivations then it shouldn’t stop you. Teaching is a learning experience on its own —you might discover some qualities you never thought you had.