Training to become an English teacher is an exciting adventure – especially when you’ve moved to a completely different country to do it.
However, like any giant thrilling leap into the unknown… all that excitement brings a whole lot of trepidation!
For all those on the brink of embarking on a new adventure as a TEFL teacher abroad, we’ve cherry picked the top 12 tips that’ll help you along the way.
Most new teachers have the same concerns and, for the vast majority of us, the first time you stand in front of a class full of students it’s a nerve-wracking experience. It’s totally normal to feel that way! But guess what? It gets easier!
At TEFL Iberia, we support our trainee TEFL teachers from the very beginning – our teaching practices, where you sit down and have one-to-one practice sessions with students, help you break. From then on, you’ll become more and more confident each time you step into the classroom. And trust us… the feeling you get from watching your students improve their English as you improve your teaching is amazing!
Fail to prepare, prepare to… well, you know how that old cliché goes, right? But, the thing is, it’s absolutely true. Know your lesson plans inside out, make sure you have all the proper teaching materials and have backup strategies in place – these are the essential elements to give you that foundational confidence in the classroom.
While it’s important to be organised and have a plan, as any experienced TEFL teacher will tell you, things don’t always go according to plan. That’s why it’s so great to have the ability to think on your feet and adapt at a moment’s notice. Whether it’s adapting your teaching methods to suit your class or throwing the lesson plan out the window to follow An interesting discussion that comes up in the classroom, your ability to stay open can create a much better learning environment for your students.
We all remember those “my classroom, my rules!” types from our own school days. These kinds of teachers fail to realise an important point… teaching and learning is a two-way relationship. In order to get the best out of your students, you have to understand what inspires them. Plus, as a teacher, you’re always learning and honing your skills. In this way, students are an invaluable source of information if you’re willing to pay attention.
There are so many different teaching styles. But the key is authenticity. An authentic personality shines in the classroom and is the best way to connect with your students. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. And don’t put pressure on yourself – these things take time and, with experience, you’ll discover the best way to get your personality across to your students and really build those relationships and make that connection.
Language learning goes far beyond memorising words and phrases. It’s about making connections through experiences. As a TEFL teacher, the more creative you can be, the more you can spark the imaginations of your students and help them learn on a deeper level. Use role play games, lean into music, build activities around their interests and use any creative methods you can to create those memorable teaching moments.
A good TEFL teacher should be continuously learning. Work on those weaknesses and take those strengths to a whole new level. Learn from peers, attend conferences, read books, listen to podcasts, get inspired by TED talks and take advanced TEFL courses. Because your all-round teaching toolkit can always improve and, if you’re open to learning something new, it most certainly will.
You’re not a machine, after all. The best teachers may well be passionate about their job, but they certainly know how to live outside of work. There’s an endless amount of fun to be had in cities like Barcelona - and don’t forget to keep checking out the TEFL Iberia blog for updates and advice on cultural events and activities.
Of course, the technical side of teaching is huge. But an often overlooked element to the whole profession are those hard to teach, hard to define soft skills that really elevate the game. Whether it’s the ability to truly listen and empathise with others, public speaking skills or more organisational skills like time management, soft skills are a crucial part of being a good teacher.
You know those people who get really good at something? They’ve all got one thing in common – they have a mentor. If you’re lucky enough to be in contact with classroom gurus – those TEFL teachers who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt – use their wisdom! Observe, ask questions, get feedback and take your teaching to the next level.
Chances are, there’s going to be a culture shock. You’re living in a new country, with new surroundings, a new language you might not be totally proficient in, and you’re tasked with finding new friends. Daunting right? The thing is, all these challenges give you a chance to grow and have an experience like no other. Embrace the change and take on the challenges… the rewards are glorious!
From the support of your tutors before and after every lesson to receiving guidance from your TEFL school’s careers service, be sure to make the most of every bit of help that’s available to you.
Also, don’t forget to check outTEFL Iberia’s resources page for some really useful teaching and learning resources as well as information on English teaching jobs in Spain.
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