As global borders open once more, it is time to start thinking about getting back to enjoying the pleasures of traveling again. With that in mind, it is certainly prudent to have in mind the idea of being able to financially support the day trips and weekend excursions to exotic hotspots.
One great way to live life to the fullest while still setting aside money for the travel fund is to consider becoming a TEFL (or Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher. Below are some useful ideas for transitioning into the career of a TEFL teacher, as well as how to improve upon some of the major aspects that being a teacher entails.
Get TEFL certified
Whether one is considering a gap year teaching in Taiwan, or a vocation of teaching TEFL online, the first essential step on that road is to obtain a reliable and genuine TEFL certification. As these courses are led by experienced and trustworthy TEFL professionals, who are ready to deal with any and all questions related to TEFL, the new TEFL educator should be equipped with all the tools they need to begin teaching effectively.
Another top reason why a TEFL qualification is so vital is because it can be a great refresher on the subtle nuances of the English language. For many, grammar is a skill that is learned at school and then forgotten about as they age. Luckily, a TEFL course comes with a reminder of the main rules of syntax, as well as an update on some of the latest changes in the direction of the English language.
Find a niche
After completing the TEFL program, the new TEFL instructor ought to be ready to begin teaching either in person or online. However, it might be the case that the budding TEFL professional does not fully know their own strong points in the teaching field right away. Because of this, it is worthwhile spending some time experimenting with different aspects of TEFL teaching, and some of the forms it can take.
One example is to focus on each facet of the language, from writing to speaking, or listening to reading. Each of these areas has their own approach that could be used to teach them. For instance, listening might be taught using well-known songs or TV shows in English, whereas reading may well be aided by finding appropriate online articles that the student could read in class time.
As with any professional qualification, a TEFL teacher will quickly realise that they have parts of teaching TEFL that they personally favour, and they must be able to share that core knowledge with their learners. So, early practice in all the fields is going to be a fantastic way of finding that niche quickly, and building on that efficiently.
For others, that speciality might be in the form of teaching business English or exam preparation English. The specific requirements of such courses make them appealing for TEFL educators who are able to hone in on those essential aspects, and make them understandable for those learners.
See the world
Another big pull for TEFL recruiters is the willingness of new TEFL teachers to travel the world to ply their trade. In fact, a huge bonus of choosing this career path is the possibility of combining work and travel, especially to sites of historical and cultural interest.
One such country that offers a growing TEFL student base with a tourist hotspot is Taiwan. This small island nation is located just off the eastern coast of the Chinese mainland, and is a fascinating hybrid of old and new. For those who love technology, Taiwan is a modern and cosmopolitan country with an infrastructure ideally suited to the fast pace of today’s society.
Additionally, there is plenty of old world Taiwan still intact, from ancient temples and museums galore, to parks and gardens that display many of the plants and flowers that grow naturally here. These provide a quiet and peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle of big city living, and allow any TEFL instructor to get away from it all on a day off.
Select an age group
One further consideration for a new TEFL teacher to think about is choosing the best age group to teach. For many, the raw energy and frenetic pace of a kindergarten group is irresistible, and there are new teaching moments aplenty in this type of setting. It is said that kids say the funniest things, and nowhere is this more true than in a kindergarten setting.
Alternatively, for a slightly less manic pace, a primary school setting could be the best fit. These students still have much of the ability to learn a new language quickly, but they often also have a touch more patience and ability to sit and work through some of the complexities of learning English for a longer period of time.
There is also the option of teaching at secondary school level, where the focus shifts from learning through games and play into something that looks more like a lesson that most TEFL teachers grew up with. There is a greater emphasis on overt learning of specific grammar and vocabulary rules, and more time can be spent on presenting and discussing more of the finer details of studying English.
Even though a TEFL tutor on placement may not get their initial first choice right away, they could end up discovering that they actually have a hidden talent for teaching a different age group than the one they originally had in mind.
There is no such thing as a perfect lesson, even in an ideal world. However, there is a massive difference between a TEFL lesson that has been well thought out and prepared, and one that has not. Students notice the difference, and appreciate content that is relevant and meaningful to them.
Due to this, a TEFL teacher can add value to their skill set by continually working on their lesson themes and projects, and listening to the feedback they receive from their learners. This could come in the form of direct comments that explain a student’s particular challenge, for instance if they are having an issue with phrasal verbs or learning a specific idiom in English.
For other learners, this response might be less obvious, as they may not feel comfortable sharing their problems with a teacher. This could be cultural or personal, but either way a considerate TEFL teacher should be open to the idea of presenting projects and tasks that enable a student to perform at their best without feeling pressure or discomfort in their learning process.