How to be a great English teacher


Being a TEFL teacher is one of the most rewarding careers you can have. Not only do you have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, to travel and discover new cultures, but you also get to empower people to learn a new language and change their lives. Pretty awesome, huh?

But being an English teacher isn’t easy. What’s more, being a great English teacher is difficult. It takes years of trial and error, learning on the job while you develop your own style and methods. 

However, there are some essential tips that make up the foundations on which to build to become an excellent TEFL teacher. Here are eight of the best:

Create a positive atmosphere

A surprising number of TEFL teachers get into teaching not through a passion for the job, but in order to travel, see the world and meet new people. Still, once they get into a rhythm, they actually discover a passion for teaching. Transmitting this passion into the classroom is massively important when it comes to being a good teacher.

There’s no doubt about it – students learn better from an optimistic teacher within a positive atmosphere. They’ll have more motivation to ask questions, collaborate with classmates and push themselves to develop their abilities, while having a far better all-round learning experience. They’ll also trust you as a teacher if your classroom is warm, friendly and positive. 

Have empathy and build relationships

Speaking of trust, another key element in building trust is to demonstrate an ability to empathise with your students. Get to know who they are. What is their background? What are their interests? How do they like to learn? 

Every student has individual needs and the more they feel listened to and acknowledged on a personal level, the more they’ll get out of the class. 

Get organised

As the cheesy old saying goes… “Fail to prepare; prepare to fail.” Cheesy, but true. Because teaching is definitely not something you can purely improvise. Sure, you’ll need to improvise at times, but it’s best done within a structured framework that creates consistency and professionalism.

So, invest the time and effort to put the prep work in. Know what to expect, have a plan. Have a backup plan. And don’t forget to use time management resources if you need them. 

Stay flexible

Of course, being structured lays the foundations. But within that structure, to be a great TEFL teacher, being able to adapt to the moment is a really important attribute. Whether it’s readjusting your lesson plan, changing your approach or dealing with any unexpected developments (tech failures, for example), a flexible approach to teaching is a must.

Of course, if you’re a TEFL teacher abroad, chances are you’re good at adapting to new situations. So, just transfer those life skills to the classroom, make them even better over time and with experience, and you’ll be a great TEFL teacher in no time!

Develop your own style

A good TEFL course will give you the fundamentals you need to be a good TEFL teacher. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and you’ll start to form your own unique style, which will develop over time. Post graduation, your experience teaching English as a foreign language will help you channel your style to enhance your impact in the classroom.

You’ll also develop the confidence to project your personality in the classroom, as well as the ability to shape your style based on the needs of your students.  

Master the key tools and technologies

Teaching technologies are constantly evolving. That’s why part of being a great TEFL teacher is being able to keep in the loop about the latest and greatest tech and tools. This ability to stay knowledgeable is going to help you make the most of the resources at your disposal and help you create a flowing, engaging lesson for your students.

Nowadays, the best apps for teachers can help do everything from planning your lessons and distributing assignments to creating fun quizzes and communicating outside of the classroom. Also, for TEFL online teachers, having a proper grasp of online teaching platforms is a must.  

Don’t just teach… learn

A big part of becoming an excellent TEFL teacher is being open to learning from your students. By listening to their thoughts on their learning experience, you can learn how to create the right kind of classroom environment, and taking feedback on board will help you grow into a better teacher.

And don’t forget… it’s not just about you inspiring your students, but your students inspiring you. They are learning a new language – a potentially life-changing experience. Watching your students grow in confidence and tackle challenges with fearlessness can be extremely inspirational!

Work on your weaknesses

The dream for any aspiring TEFL teacher is to be imaginative, innovative, confident and popular with students. It will take time to reach a high level teaching standard. Along the way, the reality is that, as well as discovering your strengths as a teacher, you’ll also have to face up to your weaknesses.

See this as an opportunity to become that great TEFL teacher you know you can be! Zero in on those attributes that fall short – whether it’s organisation, confidence, interacting one-on-one or whatever it may be. Once you’ve identified areas to improve, dedicate yourself to working on them. You’ll be amazed how good it feels to improve your all-round teaching game.


Studies have shown that students learn more when having fun. If you are able to make the classroom fun and exciting, with a playful and inventive teaching style, you are far more likely to be a successful teacher. 

Easier said than done, of course. But learning to use your imagination and get really creative when it comes to shaping your lesson plans will ensure that your students will have such a great experience, they won’t want to leave your classroom!

Check out TEFL Iberia’s course information to find out more about becoming a TEFL teacher.  

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