Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) refers to teaching the English language to adults and children whose first or main language is not English.
TEFL can occur either within the state school system or more privately, at a language school or with a tutor.
So, if you’re fluent in English, want to get paid to travel the world and have creative planning skills, consider a career teaching English as a foreign language.
As an English as a foreign language teacher (EFL), you’ll use a range of course books and material, plus a variety of audio-visual aids, to encourage students to communicate with each other using the structures and vocabulary they’ve learnt and to improve the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. A strong emphasis is placed on dialogue and role-playing, but more formal exercises, language games and literature are also used. Classes are taught in English, even with beginners.
What every new TEFL teacher should know
Starting out as a TEFL teacher can be incredibly daunting. Standing in front of a class of thirty people is not suited to everyone, but as a TEFL teacher this is something we deal with every day. That’s just one aspect of EFL teaching which can be challenging. If you are a new TEFL teacher and are finding it a bit rough, don’t worry. It’s a steep learning curve for most people in the beginning. To help you out, here are a few tips from some more experienced TEFL teachers:
You’re not expected to know everything as a TEFL teacher
Possibly the most frightening aspect of teaching English is, well, teaching English. It is a complicated language and there are so many aspects of the language to be aware of – pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and much more. Getting your head around the language is one thing in itself, but teaching it to other people is definitely challenging.
You must remember though that even though you are the teacher you are not expected to have all the answers. Even experienced teachers use reference books when they are not sure of the answer to a student’s question. Just don’t pretend you know the answer and try to bluff your way out of the situation. If you do, there’s a good chance your students will walk out of your classroom with the wrong idea!
Planning is key for a TEFL Teacher
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, planning is essential to the success of a lesson. You might need a plan that’s short and sweet or you might want a more in-depth plan, but you should always walk into the classroom with a plan. A plan for activities during the lesson and extra time, a plan for your teaching methods and a Plan B for just in case.
If you find your planning taking hours when you first start teaching, that’s normal. Planning is a skill that can take some time to get the hang of. Planning will come more naturally with you and be quicker the more you do it.
Teaching should be fun
Teaching should always be fun and if you’re not having fun then neither are your students, and that’s a problem. If you are not enjoying your lessons, you should rethink your teaching methods. Get to know your students so that you can identify what you can do in the classroom that would interest them. Think of activities that will both stimulate and be educational.
Most important of all, though, is to relax and have fun. If your students enjoy your lessons they are more likely to invest in their learning and look forward to coming to your lessons.
Being a new TEFL teacher can be tough, but hang in there – it will get better!