Teaching your native language in a foreign country, sometimes located halfway around the world, to very eager and not so eager students can be an arduous task. My time teaching high school English in France was a very rewarding and key life experience for me. I loved where I lived, the new adventures I was able to experience and the work I got to do, with (mostly) eager younger learners.
I believe that a successful TEFL teacher will possess the following top 5 key attributes:
You must be able to adapt to a new living and working environment, new culture and of course, be able to deal with sudden changes in teaching schedules at a moment’s notice. Are you prepared?
Curiosity will push you to explore new locales, meet new people, make new friends, explore new teaching opportunities and ask the difficult questions that at times must be asked in order have an engaged conversation. It will also help you explore new avenues of thinking about a certain topic, lead you to new solutions for a problem or teaching discoveries.
With sometimes limited resources, one has to be able to create lesson plans that will still effectively resonate with students and teach them necessary information, without being fully reliant on access to technology or other services. Additionally, students may have good days or bad days, and learn in any number of learning styles. It’s up to a TEFL teacher to be able to work with such differences to still accomplish teaching goals.
Patience is a virtue, plain and simple. One must be patient with students in order to understand different learning styles, questions, hardships and other queries. This will enable you to work further with a student to help teach a particular lesson in a way that the student can and will understand the information being taught.
Passion and love for the job at hand should be what gets a TEFL teacher out of bed every day. I went to work every day excited that I was able to A) teach fun, key aspects and nuances of my native language and B) work with students to make a positive impact on their lives and their futures, helping them to succeed in life.
I hope you’re ready for your meaningful and exciting TEFL experience!