What is the first word you think of when you hear the word TEFL? Some might think of teaching while others may think of travel. Curious individuals will have questions about how to choose the best course and where to teach once they receive their TEFL certificate. Teaching and travel are part of the TEFL experience and so is the word FUN. Your attitude and reaction to situations will determine the level of fun in your TEFL adventure.
Put the work in!
You enrolled in your TEFL course. This is the first step to get you on the track to teaching, travel and fun! You have accessed your first unit in the course and different people have different reactions. Some are intrigued and excited by the topics and ready to dive into learning what the new terms mean and planning their first lesson. Others will have the opposite reaction. The new terms, concepts and tasks will make them anxious, frustrated and wondering if this was the right decision.
Don’t let your initial reaction determine your attitude or dissuade you from pursuing your TEFL certificate. Do not become overwhelmed by the work. If you find that you don’t know how to begin an assignment or task for the course, re-read the instructions carefully, review the course content and study any models or examples provided. Many TEFL certification programs will have tutors who will guide you along your certification journey. Other programs will have a support team where you can submit your inquiries. The internet has a wealth of information to supplement your studies as you complete the course. This is an opportunity to learn new skills, practice what you learned and make mistakes. Learning from your mistakes and improving your work is part of the fun.
First day of school
Congratulations! You passed your course and found a job. The hard work paid off and now you will apply what you learned to actual learners.
Whatever age or level your students are, they will appreciate a teacher who is not afraid of having fun in the classroom. Establishing rapport with your students is just as important as planning the perfect lesson. You are the star of the class so let your personality shine. Do you play the guitar? Show off your talent and have the class sing a song in English. Can you do magic tricks? Do a few tricks and teach new vocabulary while you perform. Sure, there will always be students who are not willing to participate, there will be classroom management issues, and you will have lessons that did not go as well as you planned. Stay positive, proactive and have fun. Accept the challenge to work on how to win over the hesitant and disengaged student. Research different ways to teach vocabulary, gamify lessons, have students use problem-solving skills as opposed to you telling them what a word means or how to use a particular grammar point. Experimenting with different teaching techniques makes the teaching and learning experience fun so get used to thinking and acting out of the box!
If your TEFL certificate takes you to a new country, the excitement of living in a new environment may be clouded by a bit of culture shock. Despite your research to understand local customs and learn the host country’s language, your reality may offer a different experience than you expected. How will you respond? The best way to enjoy your new environment is to immerse yourself in the local culture and community. Keep an open mind and remind yourself that you are a guest. Make friends with the locals who will be more than happy to serve as your cultural guide. You’ll meet ex-pats who can offer you tips for overcoming culture shock and acclimating to your new life. While it is comforting to have fellow ex-pats to hang out with, do spend time with locals and exploring destinations off the tourist grid.
Your students are also great teachers! Make culture a part of the lesson. If you were to teach a lesson on food from your own country, ask students what foods are part of their culture. Then, find a place that serves that food. What are the historical landmarks in their town or city? Go and visit their recommendations. Your students will enjoy providing insight into culture, customs and language in their English class. Learn from them while they learn from you.
Fun is defined by your attitude
Is TEFL fun? It depends on your attitude and reaction to situations you will face. Doing your research, learning from your mistakes in the classroom, always evolving as a teacher and making friends with the locals are some ways to make your TEFL experience fun. One day you will pass along your advice and experience to someone asking the exact same question!
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