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Q: What is i-to-i Chalkboard? A: It's the online community of TEFL specialists
So you’re dreaming of a fresh new life abroad as a TEFL teacher – one filled with exciting new experiences, new friends and weekends sipping cold beers on the beach. But stop! Before you get too ahead of yourself, let’s check that you’re cut out for the world of TEFL. Here’s what you’ll need to be:
Patient & Calm
Teaching English abroad, especially if you’re teaching kids, can be pretty frustrating at times. Wherever in the world you are, kids are kids, and can lose interest and start playing up very quickly. The good news is that a calm and orderly teacher usually makes for calm and orderly students. So as long as you can keep calm and carry on you’ll be fine! Get more tips for keeping control of your TEFL class here: http://www.tefl-chalkboard.com/emmafoers/posts/819-keeping-control-of-your-tefl-class.
Willing to try new things
The people who have the best time when teaching abroad are those who never turn down an invitation – be it waltzing with OAPs, planting trees, or riding tandem around ancient city walls. You’re there to experience a new culture, so embrace the serendipitous, the unexpected and the unusual!
China intern Rozel knows to never turn down an invitation, even if it is to plant some trees!
When you start teaching English, you won’t just be starting a new job, you’ll probably have just arrived in a totally new, alien country too. To avoid a crippling dose of culture shock, it’s important to keep an open mind about any cultural differences you encounter, including crazy new foods, initially strange-seeming etiquette and nonsensical bureaucracy.
Willing to make mistakes
Good teaching is all about trial and error – no one gets it right first time! So, even if you’ve done loads of TEFL study, when you first start teaching lots of your classes will feel like total disasters. Don’t be disheartened – you’ll soon find that for every couple of activities or lessons that flop, you’ll hit on one that’s a rip-roaring success. And once you’ve got a good idea of what flops and what flies, you’ll be away.
Now, by enthusiastic, we don’t mean you have to be leaping out of bed every morning with a smile super-glued to your face – nor do you need to be really confident when it comes to standing up in front of your class (that will come later). However, you do need to be enthusiastic about the idea of teaching and ready to get stuck in and start helping your students… otherwise you’ll soon find your time abroad feels very long indeed…
A good listener
Being a good listener separates a mediocre teacher from a fantastic one – a good teacher will keep an ear out for the mistakes his/her students make and work out how they can iron them out in their subsequent classes. A bad one will just steamroller their students’ efforts to talk – which do you want to be?
No matter where you’re teaching, things in the TEFL world have a pesky habit of changing at the last minute: working hours changing and timetables being overhauled are just some of the most common issues, while schools dropping contracts at the last minute are at the more irritating (and unusual) end of the spectrum. As a teacher there’s not much you can do to avoid these last-minute changes, so it’s important to be flexible and embrace the unpredictability of things!
Friendly and approachable
No one wants a mean and grumpy teacher – while it’s important to maintain a degree of professional distance between yourself and your students, you’ll find them much more willing to cooperate in class if you’re fair, friendly and approachable. And (this is very obvious indeed) you’ll find it much easier to make new friends if you’re an approachable and friendly person!
So, you’re cut out for the world of TEFL – if you haven’t started one already, your next step is an accredited TEFL course. Click here to find out more and enrol in your i-to-i TEFL course today!
What do you think? If you’re teaching abroad at the minute, what do you reckon is the most important quality for a TEFL teacher to have?