Teaching English as a Second language is a very unique job. It’s definitely not a job for everyone, but for those who do it, it becomes more than just a job to them. At least, this is my case. I love teaching English. When I first completed my TEFL certification, I wasn’t exactly positive which path my career was going to go in. I asked myself: would I work abroad for the rest of my life? Would I begin training future TEFL/TESOL teachers? Would I get involved in school management? I have no idea, I did know that I truly loved being in the industry. So, wherever it would take me, I would me happy.
The completion of my TEFL certification course was 4 years ago now and I have done a whole lot of different things with my degree. It has most definitely kept my life adventurous, spontaneous and exciting. Without my TEFL/TESOL certificate, I wouldn’t have been able to do half of the things I’ve done.
I have taught abroad in 2 different countries. I’ve also been an English instructor for really young learners, ages 3-6 years old. I’ve taught English at at a refugee camp. I worked at a non-profit organization as an English teacher. And now, I am teaching University students on a college campus.
Let me tell you: every single experience that I have been afforded through my TEFL certificate has been drastically different from the last. And this, most recent, endeavor of mine, doesn’t veer from that.
Teaching on a college campus is very interesting and in this article, I will dive in and tell you what its like.
Teaching English to University Students Studying Abroad
My most recent job, (since moving to a new state in July), is teaching English to students studying abroad in the USA from other countries around the world. Let me tell you, this TEFL job is way, way different than the others.
I have never taught in a Universtiy setting and everything from the learning styles of students, to the expectations of administration, to the actual teaching itself, varies from my previous positions.
So, do I like it better or worse than my other jobs?
I’m not sure if that’s, necessarily, the right question to ask. I like some things more and other things less.
It’s really interesting teaching college-aged students because they are at the peak of their studies. They are entering adulthood, yet still on the brim on adolescent-hood. They definitely are more likely to argue with you, question you and test your patience more than, let’s say, grown adults. Of course, teaching children will also test your patience and they will also argue with you, but it is in a much more innocent way.
It takes a little time to get used to, but, don’t get me wrong: I am having a great time teaching these students. I am learning more about myself through this experience and I am learning a lot more about the different opportunities that a TEFL certificate has afforded me. So, after 2 months now, here are the two main points that I have really taken away from this experience thus far.
Know Your English Perfectly
Of course, as TEFL/TESOL/ESL teachers we do, however, if you haven’t taught a particular level or lesson before, it is imperative that you plan ahead. These students are able to tell when you are just winging a lesson. They know if you’ve spent hours planning a lesson and they know if you simply don’t care. So, if you want to be a good teacher, and a good role model for them, do the work. You’ll feel good about it after and they’ll be receiving the education that they deserve. (PS: You don’t want to give English a bad reputation)
Be Strict, But Don’t Be a “Know it All”
If you’re an easy peasy teacher, who allows your students to sit on their phones all class and doesn’t give them homework, there’s no way you’ll be respected as a good teacher. You have to have rules in place; boundaries set. Do this on Day 1 and stick to your guns throughout your semester (or however long it is). However, you also don’t want to be the nagging teacher. The one who seems like he/she is better than everyone else. No, because this is just as bad as being the “easy-peasy” one. You’ve got to find a happy medium. Be somewhere right in between. Let these students know you are smart and that you mean business, but that you’re also a human being who wants to be there for them.
One last thing that has proven to be useful if you are teaching university-aged students, is to know your area really well. They ask for a lot of suggestions and if I wasn’t able to give them good advice, I don’t think our rapport would be so strong. (Remember, having a solid relationship with your students in crucial in the TEFL classroom).
And that’s it! It’s been an awesome experience and I’m looking forward to teaching these guys for a while.
Please let me know if you haev anything to add to this article or if you have any questions regarding it.