For both experienced teachers and students hoping to travel the world, teaching EFL can be a profitable and interesting job. You may not need a master’s degree to do it, but teaching overseas can be quite different from tutoring and teaching positions in your home country. Here, we offer several tips for success for those individuals planning for (or already involved in) a career teaching EFL.
1. Gather real-world resources
Real objects and resources can be used in a variety of ways, from vocabulary building to reading to descriptive writing, and practically everything in between. Before leaving for your destination, collect free and lightweight English resources that could be used in a classroom. These might include restaurant menus, sales ads from local stores, maps of real cities, and magazines. Using such English materials provides EFL students with access to authentic English usage they are unlikely to get outside of the classroom.
2. Learn about educational norms and expectations
Education in your home country may be fairly informal. Teachers may often dress casually, have students use their first names, and drink coffee in class. In other countries, however, educational settings may be more formal, and students could balk at such informality. Students in other countries may also be accustomed to lecture classrooms rather than conference-style discussions or interactive classroom tasks. EFL teachers may need to gradually introduce discussion and other participatory activities to help students adjust to new methods.
3. Learn the Language
Efforts to learn the local language can be quite beneficial to EFL teachers. Experiencing the difficulties of language learning helps make teachers more empathetic to the struggles of their own students. These classes may also provide information about similarities and differences between the local language and English, which can be capitalized on in the EFL classroom.
4. Make use of the Internet
Online resources to aid English language learning are seemingly limitless. Students can learn vocabulary, review grammar, take quizzes, and even listen to examples of real English speakers. Teachers can find grammatical explanations and examples, and many sites have downloadable handouts and print-ready assignments. Such resources can be invaluable to EFL teachers whose classroom resources and ready access to English language realia may be limited.
Input is a necessity for language learning. During class, EFL teachers should speak only in English, especially since it may be the only time students hear English all day. Rather than doing written work in class, have students complete it as homework, and reserve classtime for active spoken English usage. The more students hear and understand English, the easier it will be for them to produce it, so plenty of classroom use of English is essential. Homework assignments that utilize online resources will also provide students with additional input outside class.
6. Know your students
Successful teachers identify and build relationships with their students. One crucial first step in establishing relationships is learning the names of everyone in each class. Teachers should also learn more about the students’ goals for their English and their motivation for studying the language. Teachers who know their students are better able to choose topics and communicative tasks that will be appealing to a particular class.
These six tips provide both potential and current TEFL professionals with hints for success in teaching EFL. Outside the classroom, teachers should consider resources, educational norms, and the local language. Inside the classroom, teachers should creatively use resources, spoken English, and knowledge of their students. By doing these things, teachers are sure to create a more successful learning experience for all involved.