Published 27th April 2018

English for Specific Purposes

We don’t expect you to be perfect when you start your TEFL course; the reason you’re taking the course is probably because you don’t know much (or anything) about teaching. That’s ok. But there are a few mistakes a lot of teachers make when they are on the course which can be detrimental to their learning. If you are thinking of taking a TEFL course (and why wouldn’t you?) or if you have already signed up for a course (well done!), here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your TEFL course is a successful one.

All experience is not equal

It’s great if you have teaching experience. Even being a tutor or a coach will be beneficial to your development as a TEFL teacher; any time spent with students or in a leadership position in education will give you an advantage in the classroom. However, teaching in a mainstream classroom is not the same as teaching in an EFL classroom. You may even have to unlearn a few so-called bad habits you have picked up from your traditional training.

Don’t take it personally

During the course you will get a lot of feedback. It may be positive, but it may also be negative. This is a necessary part of the TEFL course because of the time constraints of the course. You cannot expect to improve so quickly if you do not take any criticism into account. Don’t let your trainer’s feedback bother you and don’t take it personally. Your trainer is only trying to mould you into a better teacher.

Plan plan plan

If you don’t have any experience teaching, you may not realise the extent to which you need to plan your lessons. Many TEFL trainees underestimate the time they need to plan their EFL lessons and the detail that they need to go into in the plans. Planning is essential for teaching and it is a skill that needs to be developed during the TEFL course.

Don’t forget to reflect

At the same time, your work doesn’t end with planning or even executing the lesson, and your trainer shouldn’t be the only one giving feedback. After each of your practical lessons you should take some time to reflect. Think about what went well, what could’ve been done badly and what definitely didn’t work. Once you’ve identified these, think about the reasons for the success or lack of it. This will inform your teaching for your next lesson.

Remember your work-life balance

The TEFL course can take up a lot of your time. It is an essential time for your training and is vital for your future TEFL career. To say it’s important would be a serious understatement. At the same time, the TEFL course is a lot of work and can be really stressful. Don’t overdo it on the social scene during your TEFL course because being tired during the course will not help you cope with the workload.

Doing a TEFL course will change your life. It’s a lot of work and sacrifice, but when you end up in your own classroom you will realise how essential it is to your teaching.