Today’s world relies heavily on the benefits of technology, from keeping in touch with friends and family on social media to internet shopping through well-known websites and apps.
This extends to the workplace, where it seems like more and more positions offer the option of working remotely or from multiple locations.
This has changed the landscape of employment, a greater range of options for where and how they work. One possibility is the idea of working from home, but another intriguing choice is that of going abroad to work.
One wonderful vocation to think about for either of these decisions is to become a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher.
From helping students learn the basics of the present simple tense in grammar, to differentiating between an idiom and a colloquial expression in vocabulary, every single day is a new and exciting challenge for a TEFL teacher.
With that in mind, here is a guide to getting started with TEFL, either abroad or online, as well as some useful hints on keeping the content fresh and relevant for all learners.
What is TEFL?
TEFL is where learners of English improve their skills and abilities in English, most commonly with the help of a teacher.
In the past, this mostly took place in a conventional classroom setting, with a group of students sitting at their desks to learn the fundamentals of the English language from a teacher in person.
However, in recent years the situation has changed somewhat, in a couple of different ways. For one thing, more and more people are using the internet to help them learn English, and this has opened the door for online TEFL learning to take place.
Additionally, this has also led to an adaptation in the way conventional TEFL instruction takes place. While the conventional TEFL set-up does still exist worldwide, there are modifications in many places, such as part-time in-person teaching and part-time remote instruction, or in some cases even a full-time study at home program.
All of these shifts have opened the door for lots of different kinds of TEFL teachers to ply their trade, from those who prefer the old school approaches to those who are more comfortable with using modern technology to teach. This is great news for lots of potential TEFL teachers, who prefer to teach either in person or online.
Where can a TEFL Teacher Teach?
This is a great question, and one that is not all that simple to answer.
For one thing, visa restrictions often change, so a place that may be open to accepting applications from a new TEFL teacher at one moment may suddenly change their mind and become a lot more closed off to workers coming in from overseas.
In any case, the decision to move away to teach English is one that can be made easier and smoother by taking the time and effort to get a reputable and reliable TEFL certification.
This qualification can add real value to a job application in the TEFL sphere, as TEFL recruiters frequently place applications from qualified candidates right at the top of their pile.
On top of that, the TEFL course itself can provide a goldmine of useful information about teaching TEFL itself, from what to do on the very first day, all the way through to how to handle explaining complex grammatical concepts to learners. Besides, getting the chance to connect with fellow TEFL teachers in the making is a great way to feel even more confident and motivated about taking the leap into the world of teaching TEFL.
Is it better to teach TEFL online or in person?
That is an extremely subjective topic, and it really does depend on the individual TEFL teacher to decide that for themselves. In any case, going through a genuine TEFL program might well be one of the best ways to find out before setting off on this journey.
This is due to the fact that many of the professionals who lead these courses have taught using both traditional and modern approaches, so they have the ability to relay their experiences from both sides of the matter. Also, the courses are full of other TEFL teachers new to the field, who may also be feeling a similar sense of uncertainty, so having real conversations about this with them could shine a light on the best choice for each person.
What are some creative ways to teach TEFL?
Whether teaching TEFL online or in person, every day is a new chance to teach the subject in a new or interesting way. One wonderful example of this is to use the news as a constantly changing source of data, and bringing the real world into the classroom.
Of course, the TEFL teacher ought to be sensitive to the cultural backgrounds of all learners before proceeding with certain topics, such as religion or politics. In these cases, focusing on news stories that are less controversial, such as how an entrepreneur started their own business, to some cute or cuddly wild animals that have caught the eye, might be a safer way to begin on this path.
At the same time, other TEFL students often have their own creative concepts that could be brought into the in-person or virtual TEFL classroom. For younger students, these often revolve around playing games. One such language game is known as ‘Telephone’ in the United States, and is where the TEFL teacher whispers a message to one student, who then tries to successfully tell the next student, and on and on until the final student reveals the ‘message’ they were given.
This game fulfils a couple of functions in the TEFL learning space. First of all, it encourages students to listen to one another, and pay attention to the entirety of a message, which is extremely useful in everyday English life. Secondly, it promotes the idea of English as a vehicle for having a good time, and seeing how easy it is for one person to mishear another can often lead to humorous outcomes.