Top Advice For Brand New TEFL Teachers

Fotolia 57909348 Subscription Monthly M

If you're thinking about going abroad to teach English, or are about to embark on your first trip, then today's post is going to be really useful for you. 

We've compiled some of the best advice from around the web into one post here, easy for you to digest.

1.) Do Your Research

The awesome blog that is puts it more eloquently by saying "research your tail off". They highlight the amount of effort you should put into the research, and really hammer it home:

If you plan to move halfway around the world to teach English, you owe it to yourself to research all aspects of your great international adventure to make it as rewarding and successful as possible.

When you're ready to start diving into program options, be sure to read reviews and weigh all of the possibilities. Salary, livability, time commitments, and the potential for an incredible and positive experience will all play major factors in your decision.

We couldn't agree more with this advice. There's so much information available as well, so you really shouldn't have any excuse for being under-prepared.

Additionally, the more research you've done, the better your chances of getting hired as well.

2.) Passing The Interview

If you haven't already landed a job, has some great interview advice for you:

Once you have secured that job interview the next task is to prepare! This can be incredibly nerve-wracking, especially for new teachers who will be fearing complex questions about grammar and teaching techniques etc.. Don’t sweat it! 

As long as you have been honest in your application the interviewee will understand that you are still a novice (they will have most likely been in your position before), and they won’t be expecting you to come in and revolutionalise the way their institution is run! Just relax, be yourself, and be enthusiastic. 

The thing that they are looking for in a new teacher more than anything else is someone passionate and excited about the prospect of teaching for them, this is often something new teachers have over those more experienced!

Almost perfect advice there, couldn't agree more.

3.) Your First Class

A lot of newbie teachers make a mistake in their first class...they try to be too friendly and relaxed. You really ought to set the tone right from the beginning though. Here's some great advice from I-to-I:

So how do you get your students to like you? We all know how it goes..

Too strict: students are scared, won’t talk to you, but will respect you

Too friendly: students feel comfortable (too comfortable), they like you but have no respect for you.

It’s all about a happy medium – keeping in control is important but you don’t want to frighten them! At the beginning of your class outline a few rules, write them on the board or keep them visible somewhere in the classroom, and stick to them!This will not only provide your students with a structure, but you too. 

Having some kind of routine will no doubt make you feel more confident in the classroom.

4.) Dealing With Homesickness

Should it come (and it does come for a fair amount of people), here are two things that recommends you do to deal with it.

Always stay busy. This one should be easy. Don’t spend hours sitting in front of your laptop looking at Facebook photos of your friends back in the States. Staying in contact with them is one thing. Constantly wishing you were back with them is another. There is always something that needs to be done - a task, an errand, a project that needs attention, etc.

Keep in mind, what you remember about back home is probably more of a utopian image than anything. Yeah, your friends are probably having a good time at school without you, but don’t forget, they’re probably doing just as much work as you and they don’t get to travel to foreign countries on the weekends.

Once again, this is excellent advice and you can read even more here.

5.) Discipline

There are many different strategies for dealing with classroom discipline, and discipline in an ESL classroom can be a particularly tricky at times. Teflbootcamp has written a great article on the subject, and here's a snippet:

Children present a special challenge. Remember the old rule that the length of an activity for a child should be no longer than double their age minus two and some suggest age equals length of activity. Thus a four-year-old child can probably only tolerate an activity of six minutes or less and then you should move on.

Children will often act out for your attention and it would be best to study some basic psychology and behavior modification techniques to keep a handle on them. Generally speaking, giving a child attention for unwanted behavior is not a good idea. It is far better to target the child right next to the misbehaving child and reward them for doing what you want the problem child to do (like sitting down or working on the assigned task).

These few pieces of advice are some of the best you can find on the subjects listed. Obviously though they are only scratching the surface of the things that newcomers will need to know about. If you have any other questions, we encourage you to comment on this post, and we'll be happy to answer them for you.