If you’ve just qualified as an educational professional, you’re probably wondering the secret to being the best teacher you can be. That’s something that holds true regardless of the type of teaching you plan to do. TEFL professionals, like all other educators, are always on the lookout for advice to improve their skills.
Teaching English to overseas students is a career path that increasing numbers of people are following these days. Having the freedom to travel the world while earning a good living is very attractive. Therefore it isn’t surprising that more people than ever are searching online for the answers to questions like “TESOL, TEFL or TESL – what’s the difference?” They see overseas English teaching as a dream job that presents many rewarding and unlock career opportunities.
However, to excel as a TEFL professional, it’s crucial to be well prepared. With that in mind, here are ten tips to point you in the right direction for success.
1.Ask For Help
Everybody makes mistakes when they’re starting out in their chosen career. Even the most skilled and experienced TEFL professionals were beginners once. Don’t be put off by the errors you make or spend time dwelling on them. Instead, try to learn something from them before moving on.
Never be scared to ask others for help. Other professionals will be happy to offer their ideas or guidance about how to handle any issues you’re experiencing. Use their expertise to your advantage and put their tips to good use.
2.Flexibility Is Key
While sticking to the learning objectives that you’ve set for every lesson is important, you need to have flexibility around how you’ll achieve them. Preparing for any contingencies is a key element of lesson planning.
Ask yourself how you’ll adapt your lesson to suit different circumstances. How will you cope if the tasks you’ve planned are too easy or too difficult? What will you do if the activities don’t last long enough? Incorporating flexibility into lesson plans ensures you’re well-equipped to handle any variables or changes that arise.
A mistake that many new TEFL professionals make is trying to be somebody other than themselves. It can be tempting to try to “play the role” of the teacher instead of allowing your own personality to shine through. Nevertheless, relating on a more personal level to your students is a great way to forge a positive connection. Learners enjoy getting to know their teachers and finding out more about their personalities. Never be afraid to show who you really are to your students while you’re teaching.
4.Make Learning Fun
We all learn more effectively when we’re enjoying ourselves. Injecting some humour and light-hearted play into classes is a good way to build up rapport and keep your learners engaged at the same time. When you include games and interactive activities in your lesson plans, your students can practice their newly learned skills while enjoying themselves too. It’s the best way to learn!
5.Allow Your Students To Speak
One common error that new teachers make is to speak too much themselves without listening to what students have to say. Bear in mind that learners need enough time to process questions, consider their responses, and work out how they’re going to express them. This is especially true when it comes to teaching English to overseas students.
While it can be tempting to cut in and give the answer when students take time to respond to a question, hold off for a little longer. Helping with clues or prompts can be beneficial, but at the end of the day, your students should be doing the majority of the work themselves.
If you find that your learners are struggling to answer, it may be time to rethink the level of your questioning and maybe take it down a notch. Your students are going to be far more comfortable with class participation if they have confidence in their abilities. Therefore, helping them to build up that confidence will ultimately lead to far more enjoyable and effective lessons in the long term.
6.Keep Things Brief
All new teachers can struggle with keeping their instructions brief when giving their students tasks to complete. However, when you’re teaching English to overseas learners, that can cause major issues. When you’re planning each task, write down precisely what you’re going to say to your students to explain the activity. If you give all the instructions at one time, your students may get lost and feel overwhelmed. So, break each task into stages then decide when you’ll say each part. Remember, too, to speak clearly and slowly so you can be easily understood.
Teaching comes with its bad and good days. If you receive negative feedback about a lesson, try not to take it too personally. Try to welcome feedback instead and use it as an opportunity to improve rather than feeling slighted. If you aren’t clear about what went wrong, don’t be scared to ask for advice or further explanation.
8.Use A Range Of Resources
There are so many exciting resources available for TEFL teachers to tap into these days. Make sure you harness the power of them to improve your lessons and simplify your planning. Recent technological advances such as AI have made teaching even more engaging and accessible, and you can now use a wealth of software, online programs and educational apps to facilitate content delivery and make learning English even more fun.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, especially in the world of teaching. It’s impossible to try to get things organised while simultaneously trying to teach your students. So, make sure that everything you need for each lesson is ready and prepared beforehand. That will ensure you can effectively manage your time while delivering the content. Make sure, too, that the activities you plan aren’t too long or too short. That will avoid the frustration of failing to complete everything in the allotted time as well as the stress of having to find a filler activity if your students complete their tasks too quickly.
10.Remember Self-Care Is Important
Teacher burnout is a very real thing. While education is an extremely rewarding career choice, it can sometimes feel all-consuming. Take some time for yourself outside of your working hours. Self-care is extremely important. Make sure you allow yourself to unwind, relax, and forget the classroom for a while every day.
If you take these top 10 pieces of advice, you’ll soon be on your way to being the very best teacher you can be. Your students are sure to appreciate your dedication and commitment to your role.