5 things I wish I’d known before starting a TEFL course

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Moving abroad to start a TEFL course is a big step, and there are certain things we all wish we’d known before touching down in Barcelona to start a career as an English teacher. So, with the benefit of hindsight, here are the five things it would have been good to know before starting the course…

You don’t have to be a native English speaker

It’s undeniable that in some countries, particularly in Asia, British or American teachers are preferred. However, non-native teachers also have certain advantages over native teachers. Having learned English as a second language themselves, non-native teachers are more familiar with the grammar, more used to thinking about English analytically and can relate to their students’ learning experience.

Grammar is important

When you sign up for a course with TEFL Iberia, we send you pre-course reading so you can brush up on your grammar knowledge before the course begins. Lots of native speakers use grammar instinctively, but aren’t familiar with the terminology. Your future students will be expecting you to know them, but if you don’t, fear not! You already know the grammar, remember – and your TEFL course will teach you how to explain it to learners.

But focusing on your learners’ needs is more important

An exhaustive knowledge of grammar does not a good TEFL teacher make. The most important quality that a teacher can have is responsiveness, no matter what you’re teaching. If you’re a good communicator, good at listening, keen to connect with people and generally empathetic, you’ll make a great teacher. There’s a difference between qualities and skills – if you have those qualities, we can teach you the skills!

It takes time to feel comfortable in front of a classroom

The most nerve-wracking moment of a TEFL course is the first time you have to stand up in front of a class. At TEFL Iberia we support our trainees for that initial moment, coaching them through icebreakers and a lesson plan. As you go through the month of training, you’ll feel more and more confident every time you teach, until by the time you leave you’ll relish the challenge of standing up in front of a new group of students. And of course, when you see your students improving their English and speaking with more confidence, you’ll get a real kick out of it!

Moving abroad can be a challenge, but it’s also incredibly rewarding

Deciding to move abroad and teach English is a huge step, and there are difficult moments in that transition. You’ll have days where you feel lonely, days where you question your decision and days where all you want is your favourite brand of chocolate from home! But putting yourself in an unfamiliar environment is also incredibly stimulating. You’re learning every day, whether it’s a few words of Spanish or getting to know your neighbourhood. You’ll meet other expats on your course and little by little, you’ll build your own community. The best part is looking back at how far you’ve come at the end of the first year. You’ve got a job, you’ve got an apartment, you’ve made a new group of friends and a whole bunch of memories – and you did it yourself. That’s a pretty special feeling.

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