Wondering what makes a good TEFL teacher? Depending on who you are asking, I’m sure there are lots of different ways to answer this question. I have developed, in my opinion, what I believe are the characteristics of what makes a good TEFL teacher. There are probably more suggestions, which I urge you to write in a comment, but these characteristics and habits are what have made me a better TEFL teacher.
I have observed quite a few TEFL courses, I have been mentored by more seasoned TEFL teachers and I have now begun to mentor others. Through the years, I’ve seen both good teachers and not-so-good teachers in the classroom. In the TEFL industry, there’s a lot of slackers. People take on this job because they think it will be easy or they believe it’s a “cool thing to do”. “Oooo”, they think to themselves..”Maybe I can teach English in a faraway place and all my worries will fall away and life will be peaceful, happy and adventurous…”. It’s this type of person who usually turns out to be the not-so-good teacher. It has become harder and harder, for me, over the years, when I encounter this person. This is because I actually love teaching English. I love doing it, love my students, love being in the classroom. I take pride in my work and I believe others should, too. The students deserve that.
It becomes apparent from the moment you walk in the classroom whether the TEFL teacher is actually good at what he or she does or whether the teacher is there for the sole purpose of a paycheck. I understand that we all need to work and get by somehow but in my opinion, teachers have some of the most important jobs in the world. We need to act as an example to our students. So without further a do, here’s what makes a good TEFL teacher…
Love What You Do
Your students may not know the same language as you but that, by no means, makes them dumb. Not even close. Most students in a second language course have pretty big brains and use them well. That being said, they can pick up on things pretty quickly. If you’re having a bad day, if you seem out of it, if it’s clear you don’t want to be in the classroom…they will be able to tell.
How do you think a student feels when he or she realizes their teacher has absolutely no interest in being there? I would say…not that great. That’s why you gotta love what you do. Being a teacher takes a certain person, and you’ve got to have the passion for the job, without that, it’ll be hard to be a really good teacher
It is so important for TEFL teachers to be enthusiastic in the classroom. Teachers who are enthusiastic about what they do are way more likely to have a good effect on a student. Go all out: decorate your classroom, create funny warm-ups, play games, get to know your students. Go above and beyond the bare minimum. Make the classroom a fun and inviting place where students want to be.
In the TEFL world, it’s so important to give your students positive feedback. Confidence is key when someone is learning a new language. By building that up, you’re allowing your students to feel comfortable learning the language. If they keep hearing that they are wrong, they’re never going to feel comfortable enough to speak the language.
Teach! The most important part! Believe it or not, there are so many teachers out there who barely teach. Go into the classroom everyday with a plan of what you’re getting done. Continuously ask students if they have questions as you go over new material. Use a variety of practice activities to ensure that your students are grasping the concepts and putting them into use in a proper way.
Be open with your students. Of course, you must retain a professional manner always, but it’s okay to open up and talk about life things with your students. You are probably from different parts of the world – learn about one another and each other’s different cultures. By getting to know one another, you build trust. With a lot of trust in you, your students will want to do well in your class.