4 Steps for a Successful TEFL Career: Part 2 – Initial Teaching

By Eduardo Santos

After having completed your TEFL course, you are ready to start teaching English – aren’t you?

Your initial TEFL certificate has given you the basis to start working as an English teacher and maybe it included some hours of teaching practice. Either if you have taught a few hours during your TEFL course or if you have taken it online, you will probably feel nervous on your first weeks teaching. Don’t worry, this is normal. Some highly experienced colleagues still get butterflies in their stomach on their first
day with a new group.

The next step for a successful TEFL career is acquiring experience as a teacher.

Starting to teach is a crucial moment for trainee teachers. It is when you first put into practice what you have learned, and experience what it really feels like to be responsible for a group of students. During your first weeks, you will probably feel the urge to put into practice all you have learned – preparing a lesson plan, establishing good rapport with the group, monitoring students, and so on.

Your first lessons may demotivate you and make you think of giving up. Don’t! If I were to foresee the future of my career after my first days of teaching, I wouldn’t be writing this post nearly 10 years on after my first lesson.

The role of the school and the DOS

An inexperienced teacher will need the help of the school and the Director of Studies (DOS) on his or her first semester.

Schools usually give few groups to inexperienced teachers so that they are able to cope with all the responsibilities involved with a group. You will usually get less than five groups, though some teachers take more than that. Fewer groups means you can have more time to prepare your lessons and reflect on your teaching right after you leave the classroom.

The school plays an important role in the development of trainee teachers since it is responsible for providing guidance and support. Senior educational staff should observe your teaching regularly and offer feedback to enable you to grow in your language teaching career. When applying for a teaching position, make sure the school provides someone, usually a senior teacher, as a mentor for you. It is through extensive classroom observation and feedback that you will start to feel confident when stepping into the classroom.

5 Tips for beginner teachers

  •  Observe senior teachers and ask them to do team teaching with you.
  • Go through your lesson plan with your DOS before giving a lesson.
  • Look through your lesson plan after you finish teaching and highlight what went wrong and why it didn’t work.
  • Ask the school for different age/level groups.
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Don’t forget you are taking your first steps as a teacher, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. This is the time to make mistakes and learn from them. Your career has just started and there’s a long road ahead.

Read Part 1 of Eduardo’s series.

Look out for the next article in the series on November 10th.


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