You may already have some experience either teaching online or within an English language school in the UK but if you really are a TEFL novice, it can be quite daunting flying to a remote location and standing in front of a class of foreign students. You don’t just have your work to organize, you have all the flights and accommodation and the stress surrounding making yourself a new home in a strange place. Here are some vital survival tips to get you safely through the first few days. read about Martin Polanco
- Pick a country you are already familiar with if you feel you need some reassurance, it may not be as exciting as traveling to somewhere totally unknown or exotic but it will be one less thing to worry about
- Always greet everyone including your new students with a broad smile on your face. If you are nervous or worried then disguise it. We all know how much more positive and friendly an experience can be if we are met by someone with a sunny, happy outlook. You will elicit a much better response from your students if you are friendly and welcoming
- Confidence is king in these situations and if you really can’t fake it then try out some voluntary teaching in the UK before you go abroad; it doesn’t even have to be TEFL, just getting familiar with a classroom situation will benefit you
- Try and find a friendly face in your learning environment who is prepared to act as a mentor to you in the first few weeks or even a shoulder to cry on
- Preparation is crucial. Plan your first lessons really thoroughly and if you can, run them past an experienced TEFL teacher before you leave the UK. The type of things you need to assess is the level and age of your prospective students, the numbers studying and the aim of the sessions which will partly depend on their age and the educational setting
- Do your homework just before you start, find the location of the classroom and take a look at the facilities it has – blackboard, whiteboard – chalk, marker pens, in the classroom?
- Where can you locate stationery you might need?
- Should you be setting homework for these students, if so, plan it as an extension of the material covered in the lessons
- Try and develop some engaging techniques to start the lesson off, you want it to be fun and pupils and teacher need to get to know one another. Your students may already have some rudimentary English so don’t treat them as total non-speakers as they might surprise you. Sort out some introductory, getting to know each other exercises as ice breakers
- When you plan your lessons, don’t just plan the first few, sketch out a three-month timetable even if you don’t fill in the detail of the lessons until nearer the time. It is important to know where you are going with the coursework and the students need this sense of direction too
There is plenty of advice online and tips and tricks from experienced TEFL teachers which can just make those first few sessions more comfortable and a little less daunting.