Teaching English overseas will be a challenging and memorable experience. The people you meet, the places you visit, and the skills you learn will make a lasting impression on you. The following tips will help you succeed on your TEFL / TESOL adventure, and get the most out of the opportunities you encounter.
Make a Plan – the more research and planning you do, the fewer problems or pitfalls you will encounter. Think about when and where you want to take a TEFL / TESOL Training Course, and apply early (see Teach English Worldwide’s “TEFL / TESOL Training Courses” section for more info). Also consider where you want to teach, and then thoroughly research the country and city where you will be located. (see Teach English Worldwide’s “TESOL Jobs Worldwide” section for more info).
Organize the Rest of Your Life – Before moving overseas, make sure that your personal, financial, and administrative affairs are all in order. This way, you will have sufficient time and energy to devote to your new TEFL / TESOL career.
Brush up on English Grammar – You do not need to go overboard studying grammar, but a few days of review could save you a lot of headaches during your TEFL / TESOL course and in the classroom. Simply familiarizing yourself with various grammar points and terminology will provide you with a sufficient refresher.
Be Organized and Disciplined Right From the Start – Typical TEFL / TESOL courses only last approximately 1 month, so you need to be focused from the very first day to ensure that you learn as much as you can and do not fall behind.
Pay Particular Attention to Lesson Planning – Many first-time teachers have a lot of difficulty preparing lessons in an effective, efficient manner. Carefully plan each section of a lesson, and practice giving it to a friend or classmate.
Allow Time for Self-Reflection – After each practice lesson you teach, give yourself a few minutes to quietly reflect on how it went, its strengths and weaknesses, and how you can improve your next class.
Carefully Observe Other Lessons – arguably the most valuable aspect of a TEFL / TESOL Course is the opportunity to observe other teachers – both experienced and inexperienced, good and bad. Attentively watching each one will provide you with many ideas for your own teaching.
Manage the Paper Trail – You will probably accumulate a lot of papers during your course. Make sure that you neatly file and store any information that might be of use later in the course or when you are teaching. Having a ready supply of lesson planning ideas or grammar reference sheets could save you a lot of time in the future.
Be Professional in Your Dealings with Your Classmates, Trainers, and Practice Students – this involves being respectful, courteous, and punctual.
Keep the Course in Perspective – even though you need to be a dedicated student, you should not let the course drive you crazy. In particular, don’t waste time creating revolutionary new lesson plans or beautifully decorated visual aids. Use resources currently available to you and concentrate on working efficiently and effectively.
Do Not Worry if Some of Your Practice Lessons Go Poorly – This happens to everyone, and the best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and move on.
Implement your plan…But Stay Flexible – As mentioned above, it is a good idea to begin your TEFL / TESOL experience with a clear plan and a specific set of goals. You should keep this plan clearly in mind, but you should not expect events to adhere to this plan exactly. Many unexpected things (both good and bad) can happen while living and working in a new country. Be flexible and adapt to your changing circumstances as necessary.
Continue Refining Your Teaching Skills – Eventually, you will have had enough teaching practice to plan lessons without much forethought and conduct lessons with relatively little effort. If this comfort is accompanied by laziness or apathy, however, it is not doing you or your students any good. Continue to learn new skills and improve your teaching abilities. Doing so will make your classes more enjoyable and worthwhile for everyone involved.
Continue to Practice Professionalism – just like during your TEFL / TESOL Training Course, you should be courteous, respectful, organized, and disciplined in your dealings with employers, students, colleagues, and community members. You should make particular effort to adjust your behavior to fit the norms of your new culture – which will often be different from your own.
Get Involved with the New Culture and Community – Engaging your new surroundings will make you a more effective teacher, and will help you make the most of your overseas experience. Study the language, customs, and history of the area. Participate in the community by volunteering or simply attending community events.