By: Kori Czuy  (TESL Canada Certified/BA Arts)

Teaching TEFL abroad poses unique challenges, whether it’s searching for that chocolate bar that reminds you of home, spending 3 hours paying a water bill, or being asked to make a speech to your entire school…in 2 minutes. As TEFL teachers overseas, we willingly subject ourselves to the often enjoyable chaos of that country and its culture but the overwhelming feeling of being in somewhere completely different can overload our senses and sometimes cloud over our reality, making us forget our original intentions; teaching.

No matter which country I move to or who I am teaching, these are 5 things I try not to lose sight of.

Student Goals

This isn’t always as simple as asking your students the question. In fact,  it’s an opportune moment for your students to whip out some generic answer they read on the school brochure, or recite a message from their homeroom teacher. To be a great TEFL Teacher it’s important to know what your students really want from your classes, no matter what age they are. Yes, even 7 year olds have goals; colouring in the lines or writing their name.

Creatively figure out what these goals are and your lessons are certain to be both immensely productive and enjoyable.

Listening to your students

While teaching TEFL abroad, I once mentored a local English teacher in Asia who had been using the same lessons every year for the past 5 years. I know what you’re thinking, super duper, plan the curriculum once and you are set for life. Well think again! Remember that your students will change and each student/class of students will have  different learning styles, interests, and needs. There will be a different vibe to each class, so pay attention to how they learn best and what sparks their attention.

If you’re teaching TEFL abroad, do some research on local/cultural pop icons, slang/local phrases and popular food/eateries.  Incorporating the familiar into a lesson will put your students at ease and bonus is…it’s entertaining too!

Review 

Surprise entwined with a bit of embarrassment flowed into the innocent eyes of a teacher I was helping when I asked her if she reviewed her students daily.Many teachers tend to get so wrapped up in the curriculum and necessities of administration that they often lose sight of the class. With these out-of-the-classroom demands, reviewing may often seem like the obvious choice for the boot but is never the wisest.

Make time for reviews everyday, even if it’s only 5 minutes.

Encourage/Praise

Also an easy one to forget about, especially with adults but we all love a good “atta boy/that’s my girl”, pat on the back, or even a sticker with a golden star or a smiley!

Have Fun

If you’re having fun in the classroom, it’s more than likely your students will too! That doesn’t just apply to TEFL abroad or even just TEFL for that matter…it’s a tip for any teacher anywhere.

Have you got tips to share? Feel free to leave your comments below. Thank you. Happy teaching!

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