As a novice ESL teacher you may be keen to get recruited by some voluntary organisation; however, before any voluntary organisation even considers recruiting you, you will have to demonstrate that you are one of those ESL teachers that possesses certain desired qualities that are characteristic of people who like to do voluntary work. If you can do this, it is highly likely that you will be recruited by the voluntary organisation.
Here are some of the qualities that ESL employers expect, and which you should definitely possess.
1. Empathy. You must be able to empathise with people: you will be working in Third World countries where people have to struggle to make ends meet, and an ability to mentally put yourself in their position will be necessary if you are to understand and help them achieve their goals.
2. Adaptability and flexibility. You will have to be able to adapt at short notice to changes in your personal circumstances and changes in your work environment. You will have to be flexible in your approach to your ESL teaching, the people, and their customs.
3. Energy. Voluntary work can be very energy consuming; for instance, if there is a shortage of ESL teachers, you may find yourself having to commute from town to town until an extra ESL teacher arrives.
4. Integrity. You will be working in communities where the locals hold you in great esteem. It is vital that you do not tarnish your reputation by acting inappropriately. Irrespective of whether you are a male or female ESL teacher, don’t date the locals, don’t get drunk and don’t be rude to the locals.
5. Selflessness. The fact that you have volunteered to do ESL teaching is proof that you have a certain degree of selflessness, but you will also have to demonstrate this to the locals in the community that you will be teaching. Whenever you can, help them and sacrifice your free time for them if they need your assistance – even if it’s not ESL work.
6. Creativity. You may find that you don’t have all the teaching equipment that you need in order to give your ESL students the sort of lesson that they deserve – be creative! For example, you can get the students to make flash cards from sheets of paper: these can be used in many ways for making the lessons more interesting.
7. Passion, patience, and perseverance. You have to be a person who is not merely happy to teach ESL and do voluntary work – you have to be passionate about it, too. You will also need patience and perseverance because things in the Third World often don’t run like clockwork.