What If I Don’t Like My Students? And 7 Other TEFL Questions You Probably Want to Ask
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Don’t get us wrong, being a TEFL teacher is one of the best jobs we can think of, but that doesn’t mean it’s all roses and butterflies. It’s a job, after all, and jobs have good moments and bad moments.
Yes, we spend our working hours basically chatting to people and having a good time, but sometimes we need to work hard for our money. You see, the issues that you have as a TEFL teacher are not the same as the ones you have in other jobs. You know, that one colleague who always finishes the milk, or the photocopier that never seems to work, or the hour-long meetings that could’ve been an email…okay so maybe we have the same problems, with a few added extras you might not expect!
Let’s look at some of the weird and wonderful challenges you might face as a TEFL teacher and what you can do about them.
1. What if I don’t like my students?
Yip, this is a real thing. We can teach a lot of students and we might not get along with all of them. So what can you do if you don’t like a student? We are dealing with different personalities every day. If you find that you don’t particularly enjoy a certain student, there’s, unfortunately, nothing you can do. At the same time, you cannot show that you prefer other students.
You need to remain professional and neutral – and pretend you don’t have favourites!
2. What if my students don’t like each other?
When you think about it, you’re putting probably around 30 random people in the same room. You can’t expect everyone to get along all the time. It’s not like you always liked everyone in your office, did you? Or your class at school? With teens and adults alike you’re bound to have moments when your students disagree with each other or bring their personal and emotional baggage into the classroom.
If it becomes problematic, you need to stay aware of their relationships and separate your students where necessary. This means asking them to sit in different spots and making sure they don’t do pairwork or group work together.
3. What if my students don’t do their homework?
There are two sides to this. If you are teaching schoolchildren, then you need to have rules in place with regard to homework. With adults, there is nothing really you can do – it’s up to them. Homework is extra time for your learners to dedicate to improving their English. Because they don’t spend a lot of time in the classroom homework is necessary for them to up their exposure to the language.
But, in both cases what you need to do as the teacher is motivate your learners to do their homework. If you can motivate your students and assign them homework they want to do, you’ll be helping their language learning immensely.
4. What if I have a lot of students?
Unfortunately, you don’t get a say in how many students you will have in your class. If you’re lucky there will be a maximum number but that number varies from place to place. Language schools often cap their class sizes at 12 to 14, and private schools at 25 to 30. If you are teaching in a public school you might have classes of 40 to 50 students, or even more.
When this is the case, you need to plan accordingly. Use the seating arrangements in the classroom to your advantage. Plan your groupings so that you can maximise individual participation while at the same time making classroom management as easy as possible. You will need to accept that some activities are just not possible with a large class.
Read more: Top Tips for Dealing with Large EFL Classes
5. What if my students are different levels?
English learners are identified as having a certain level of English according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). This is how in language schools students are allocated a class such as Beginner or Intermediate or Advanced. A similar thing might happen in schools too, where students of similar levels are placed in the same class. Of course, what can happen is that within one level some students can be stronger than others. Or, some might be stronger at certain skills but weaker at others.
In this situation, you really need to be on the ball. You need to know which students are weaker and which are stronger in your class. You might need to have extra worksheets at hand for your fast finishers, or extra explanations for your weaker students.
6. What if I don’t speak the local language?
Many people worry that they won’t be able to teach English to people who can’t speak English if they themselves do not speak the language of their students. However, not having the language at your disposal is actually a blessing in disguise, because it means you won’t rely on a translation during your lessons.
So there is nothing you need to do. Learning the local language is important if you are in a foreign country as a way to integrate into the community – and upskill yourself at the same time – but there is no need to learn the language simply for the teaching.
7. What if my school has no resources?
Sometimes we are lucky and we find jobs at schools with a big staff room with lots of bookshelves filled with photocopiable resource books, grammar reference books, dictionaries and activity ideas books. You are given a coursebook for each of your students and a teacher’s book for yourself. Other times you might not be so lucky and you are given a syllabus with not many materials to support it. You might even be given total free rein with very few guidelines.
No teacher should be without their own stash of resources. It’s no longer necessary to lug around heavy books these days. Instead, you can have a USB drive with all of the resources you have collected during your career which you can utilise whenever necessary.
Read more: 5 No-Prep Activities for the EFL Classroom
8. What if I don’t like my job?
Call us old-fashioned but we’re big believers in following through on a contract. After all, you’ve signed your name to it and it’s a legal document. If you find you don’t really enjoy your job, try talking to other teachers or your Director to see if you change your working environment. If that’s not possible, stick it out until the end of your contract. If you’re really, really unhappy, your school might let you out of your contract early, if they are able to find a replacement. Just remember, it’s not cool to leave your students in the middle of a semester without a teacher.
Are there any other questions you’d like to ask? Give us a shout and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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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.