Published 24th October 2017

Starting out as a TEFL teacher can be quite daunting. No matter how well you did on your TEFL course, or how many practise teaching lessons you did, nothing can quite prepare you to set foot in the classroom for the very first time as the teacher. But time will pass and before you know it, teaching phrasal verbs and the second conditionals will seem like second nature.

Yes, believe it or not, teaching will become easier with each class you teach until you feel like you could teach with your eyes closed, but getting to that place can be a tough journey. Rest assured, you will get through it, but to help you out along the way, here are our best survival tips for your first year of teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Don’t forget that you’re the teacher

This may sound silly but it’s a common problem. While some people only end up teaching English as a Foreign Language when they have already been working for some time, some teachers start teaching as soon as they finish university and are in their early twenties. If you teach high school that could mean you could be teaching students who are just a few years younger than you. If you teach adults, on the other hand, regardless of your age you will probably have students who are older than you.

In the teacher-student relationship this can be a little strange. As the teacher, you are the one with the knowledge, the one who is there to guide the learners who are, to a certain extent, dependent on you. If your student is older than you, you might feel awkward correcting your student or giving them instructions.

Don’t. Irrespective of your age you are the teacher and you are expected to lead the lesson. Your students expect you to plan a logical lesson and execute an effective one. It also follows that as much as you’d like to be friends with your students, you still need to act like a figure of authority when you’re inside the classroom.

 Make friends with your grammar book

We get it, teaching grammar is scary. There’s a lot about English grammar that we are never taught in school because we know it naturally, which is not the same thing as teaching it to someone else. Don’t freak out about teaching grammar. You’re not expected to know everything about narrative tenses or reported speech. If you don’t know something, look it up before your lesson to make sure you are prepared for any questions that might be thrown your way.

Stop before you photocopy

In the beginning it’s very easy to get caught up in following coursebooks to the T. This usually means making countless photocopies of exercises or materials for activities. Walking into a classroom with a pile of paper can make you feel more secure, safe in the knowledge that you have an activity on paper for every minute of the lesson. Even though it may be hard, try not to use the photocopier as a crutch. It’s a bad habit to get into and rather try think of how the same activities can be done without using so much paper.

The first year of teaching English as a Foreign Language will definitely have its challenges, but if you keep your wits about you, you’ll be able to come out the other side a much more effective, confident teacher.