You’ll learn the basics of what you should be getting up to in the classroom on your TEFL course (http://www.onlinetefl.com/tefl-course/), but what about what you shouldn’t be doing? As well as the obvious things like not smoking crack behind the chalkboard and not punching six-year-olds in the face, here are seven things that it’s best not to do…
Torture your students
This isn’t Guantanamo Bay – be nice and if you can’t be nice, at least don’t do anything that would make Amnesty International get involved! I know one TEFL teacher who used to single out one of his students (usually around the 8-10 mark), make them sit of a swivel chair in the centre of the room, spin them round, then ask them questions. As well as being massively weird, it’s just a bit unproductive – what are all your other students doing while you’re picking on the poor kid in the chair?
Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone!
Stoop to their level
We know it can be hard when your students are being childish, difficult and noisy. But the solution doesn’t lie in YOU becoming childish, difficult and noisy. Try to at least act like a teacher, even if your inner 6 year old wants to scream, stomp their feet and storm out.
Answer their questions
“Why are you not married?” “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” “What does this [rude] word mean?”
These are all questions that are best NOT to answer, as 1) they open the giggle-floodgates and 2) expose you to many, many supplementary questions. Best use some of Emma’s handy question-dodging tactics: http://www.tefl-chalkboard.com/emmafoers/posts/1463-7-things-you-won-t-learn-on-your-tefl-course
I’ll let you in on a secret – while teaching abroad is pretty cool, it can also be mind-numbingly boring – doing the same activity with ten different classes is not the kind of thing you’ll be writing home about. Buut, look bored at your peril. As dogs can smell fear, English learners can smell boredom – once they get just a whiff of you drifting off, you’ll have lost their concentration AND respect.
Talk too much
You can speak English. In fact, you got the job precisely because you can speak English. At no point is your English prowess in doubt! So, there’s no need to practise it – speak as little as possible in the classroom to give your students room to perfect THEIR English, as they’re the ones who need the practice.
Disrespect local customs
Did you know that writing a South Korean person’s name in red is a big no-no? Observe this from Chalkboard-er, Duggand:
“On writing the kids names on the board with a red marker, to my surprise, Candy my best student, erupted into convulsions! I exaggerate not! According to my other students I had wished death and bad luck upon her!”
Every country has different quirks and customs. Ask some of the local teachers at your school what they are and ignore them at your peril!
Lose your temper
Forget all the other don’ts, they’re maybe something to aspire to, or try next week. But ignore this one at your absolute peril. Losing your rag is the cardinal sin in the classroom – it will turn your students against you, trash their confidence and make you seem weak.
So, what do you think? What’s on your list of no-nos in the classroom?