Qualities of a Good TEFL Teacher
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Do you have what it takes to be a good TEFL teacher? As more and more people jump on the teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) bandwagon, you might be wondering if you should be teaching English as a Foreign Language too! After all, why wouldn’t you want a job where you get paid to scratch your travel itch and teach amazing students from all over the world? But the question is, do you have what it takes? What are the qualities of a good TEFL teacher?
Of course, there are a certain number of requirements that you need in order to become a TEFL teacher. You need to be a native English-speaker or have near-native fluency (and proof of your CEFR level). You also need to have a TEFL certificate, as well as a Bachelor’s degree for some countries – though it can be in any subject and there are countries where you can teach without one. If you are teaching English online, then of course you also need a decent laptop, a stable internet connection, a good headset and a few other bits and bobs you can use for props.
Qualities of a good TEFL teacher
But besides all those things, an important part of being a TEFL teacher (and indeed any kind of teacher) are the personality characteristics that make you, you. 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. So let’s look at what qualities you need to not just make it as a TEFL teacher but live your best life as a TEFL teacher.
A TEFL teacher is PASSIONATE
Teaching is hard work. You need to be knowledgeable of your subject and enthusiastic enough about it that you can make your students excited about the present perfect and collocations! Teaching English as a Foreign Language is not just a job, it’s a meaningful venture, and even if you do it for a short time you need to be interested not only in teaching but also in the English language.
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 you 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 travelling, 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.
A TEFL teacher is KNOWLEDGEABLE
Being able to speak English is not the same as being able to teach English. As a TEFL teacher you need to know as much as possible about English – about vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, but also about language usage, natural language, and the subskills involved in reading, writing, listening and speaking. This is the reason it’s necessary to do a TEFL course, and it should ne an accredited, well-recognised course because this is the only way you’ll grow your knowledge of English – besides Google, of course.
Read more: The Basics of Teaching English as a Foreign Language
A TEFL teacher is COMMUNICATIVE
Obviously if you’re teaching a language you should be able to speak the language. But communication is not only about speaking. It’s about conveying what you mean clearly and succinctly. This is especially important when your students do not entirely understand the language that you speak. TEFL teachers need to learn to give good instructions and speak clearly. They also need to interpret and understand what their students are trying to say in order to help them say it correctly.
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 TEFL teacher is ORGANISED
We hate to break it to you, but teaching requires preparation, and preparation requires organisation. If you’re not organised there’s no way you can handle teaching 30 classes of 30 learners a week. Being organised will ensure that your lessons are not only well-planned but executed effectively. Plus, being disorganized is a sure way to lose interest in your lessons and take all enjoyment out of teaching.
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.
Read more: Essential Teaching Materials for a TEFL Teacher
A TEFL teacher is CREATIVE
This doesn’t mean you need to make 52 photocopies for every lesson (please don’t!). In fact, TEFL teachers are able to plan lessons which do more with less. The less you rely on materials, the more opportunity you give your students to be a part of the learning process. Plus, creativity also comes in the form of being able to juggle lessons with more or fewer students than you expected, or to handle covering a lesson at the last-minute.
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.
A TEFL teacher is ADAPTABLE
A TEFL teacher needs to be able to think on their feet. Lessons go wrong (more often than we’d like to admit!), photocopiers break, students don’t turn up, and we need to deviate from the lesson plan. That’s actually not a problem as long as we can go with the flow and respond to our students as best we can.
A TEFL teacher must be flexible with their 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.
But this adaptability is important for outside the classroom too. If you are a TEFL teacher, there is a chance that you are not living in your home country. You will need to be adaptable to be able to not just survive living and working in a foreign country, but thrive in a foreign country.
Read more: Culture Shock
A TEFL teacher is PATIENT
A good teacher is very patient with students and able to listen and understand them without becoming frustrated. Even though us TEFL teachers might know English very well, our students don’t and it takes time to learn a language. While your lessons might be 45 minutes long, that doesn’t mean that your students will learn everything you teach in 45 minutes.
Everyone learns at different speeds and some students will make the same mistakes over and over. We need to be patient with our students as they learn so they don’t feel pressured to perform or feel too nervous to make mistakes. You need to be patient enough to teach the same language item again and again – and again – until your students have mastered it.
TEFL 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 TEFL teacher is APPROACHABLE
We’d like to say that TEFL teachers need to be friendly – which they do – but as teachers being friends with your students can be a bit tricky and being too friendly can lead to your students taking advantage of you or you losing your authority. So instead we’d like to say that you should be approachable. Your students should feel comfortable enough to feel they can talk to you about any problems they may be having while at the same time realizing you are the person in charge.
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.
A TEFL teacher is PROFESSIONAL
You might have been sold on the idea of a party lifestyle with a teaching day job but TEFL teachers have a responsibility to their employers and their students. A work-life balance is obviously important but even more so is not turning up at school exhausted after a night on the town!
Now that you know what qualities you need to be a good TEFL teacher, do you think you have what it takes?
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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- try to identify products and services you’re interested in; and
We use the following for marketing and to identify the products and services you’re interested in.
- Your contact details. This includes your name, gender, address, phone number, date of birth and email address.
- Information from cookies and tags placed on your connected devices.
- Information from other organisations such as aggregated demographic data and publicly available sources like the electoral roll and business directories.
- Details of the products and services you’ve bought and how you use them.
We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
You can ask us to stop sending you marketing information or withdraw your permission at any time.
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.