What makes a great TEFL teacher?
What Makes a Great TEFL Teacher
Are you thinking about pursuing your TEFL certificate this year? But maybe you’re on the fence…there can be a lot of uncertainty when taking a step like this in your life. Maybe you have never taught before. Maybe you’ve never even left your home country! Maybe you don’t know a foreign language yourself. Maybe this is just something that feels like a few too many steps out of your comfort zone. At Via Lingua, we don’t believe that any of these things have to be roadblocks for you on your way to pursuing your CTEFL certification. In our Via Lingua courses, we train students from many different backgrounds, and we have seen that teaching experience or knowledge of a foreign language aren’t the keys to being a successful teacher. Instead, great TEFL teachers have many of the following skills and characteristics:
Organization- It is hard to know exactly what to expect when you are starting a new job, in a new school, or with a new student as a TEFL teacher, new or seasoned! The best way to prepare yourself is by being organized. Organize your lesson time well, and be prepared with more materials and ideas than you need. An unorganized lesson period could result in unintended chaos, a stressed out teacher, or dissatisfied students.
Adaptability & Flexibility - Teaching is constant game of adjusting to what is happening around you! You can be the most well-organized TEFL teacher in the world, and you still won’t be able to predict exactly how your students will respond to a particular task, or how long or short a certain activity will take them. Things not going according to plan is nothing to panic over. If you can be flexible, responsive to your students, and adapt to different situations in the moment, your lessons will be more enjoyable for you and more useful for students.
Open Mindedness & Empathy - To build strong and high quality relationships with your students, you need to have empathy and keep an open mind. An empathetic teacher strives to understand how their students feel and where they are coming from. They seek to understand the factors that motivate a student and influence their success. Sometimes these factors are beyond our understanding or experience. That is one of the beautiful parts of teaching, though: making space for students to grow and improve regardless of the other influences in their lives. Through empathy and an open mind, you can help students improve their communication skills.
Growth mindset - A teacher’s job is to foster opportunities for learning. But the learning shouldn’t be limited to the students. As teachers, we have plenty of room to improve and grow, as do our colleagues. Keep in mind that none of us are “finished.” Holding high aspirations and a visible enthusiasm for learning will motivate your students to continue. But also as a professional, don’t forget that you are also still learning and will always have things to perfect and refine. Don’t be too hard on yourself if something doesn’t go as you want. Take it as a chance to learn and improve yourself for the next time. If you have colleagues you can collaborate with and learn from, this also will help refine you as you open yourself up to different methods, points of view, and ideas that you may not have considered in the first place. It is easy to get stuck in our familiar pattern of working, but we have plenty to learn from each other!
Passion, Enthusiasm, & Patience - If you as the teacher are enthusiastic and passionate about the language you are teaching and your students’ progress, it can have a significant effect on the learning environment. This energy is contagious for your students. Maybe you aren’t aware of this potential passion yet, but as you embark on your TEFL course with Via Lingua, you could find an undiscovered enthusiasm for this field. Along with the high energy, though, always maintain patience for your students. Keep your eyes and ears open to see how your students are doing, and respond accordingly. Not all students will acquire a skill in the same way and at the same pace. Maintain a supportive environment and give everyone the chance to review, repeat, and practice so they feel confident using the language they may be dreaming to master.