Travelling can be exciting, wonderful, and a truly unique experience. Despite this, it could also get expensive rather quickly, and this is why it is prudent to have an effective means of funding this lifestyle.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of becoming a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher. Read on to find out more about how to become a TEFL teacher, as well as some of the common challenges that such a profession poses alongside suggestions on how to overcome these.

Getting started as a TEFL teacher

As with many other vocations, it really does pay to invest time and effort into obtaining the appropriate certification before commencing this career. This is regardless of whether one is interested in learning about teach English in Paris initiatives, or even working as a primary school teacher on the French Riviera.

The first reason why a reliable TEFL qualification is so vital is because many countries actually do require some sort of proof of a valid certification as part of their visa entry system. In other words, it is only possible to go and work in these nations with such a course completed, and the paperwork to go along with it to be in order.

Additionally, high-quality, accredited course providers have courses that are actually designed and led by TEFL teachers who have plied their trade around the world. This translates into the type of education that can only come from those with first-hand experience of the reality of day-in, day-out TEFL teaching.

What’s more, the programs are packed with information on the English language, from the fundamentals of grammar rules and vocabulary. This places the TEFL teacher at the very forefront of the newest happenings in the English language, and ensures that they will be able to answer most of the questions that may come their way in a given TEFL lesson.

Last but not least, the course is a fantastic way to meet others in the same position, sharing knowledge and ideas acquired on the program to complete coursework together. Not only that, but also it is possible to maintain contact with these new friends long after the course is finished, ensuring that any tough moments can be shared in confidence with these new buddies.

The challenge of starting a new career as a TEFL teacher

Perhaps the biggest challenge of commencing a new career as a TEFL teacher is navigating those early days and weeks in the classroom. There is so much to learn and discover, from planning the most effective lessons, through to building meaningful and purposeful connections with students.

One great way to try and overcome this is to breathe, relax, and take one day at a time. This enables both TEFL teacher and student to feel more at ease with the surroundings, and hopefully take away some of the affective filter that a lot of language learners face, especially when meeting a new teacher for the first time.

Sharing stories can be an efficient method of breaking down such barriers, as students are almost always curious to find out more about the world around them. They might ask questions about the home the TEFL teacher grew up in, or their favourite sports team or music group. 

This spirit of inquisitiveness will hopefully provide a solid foundation for TEFL students to thrive and build upon their existing knowledge of English. Furthermore, it may also be a way of learning more about the learners themselves, as they might either have something in common with the TEFL teacher, or indeed have a completely different point of view.

For example, many school children in Paris are actually brought up to support Saint-Etienne, rather than their more famous neighbours who play in the Saint-Germain district. For several of these, it is a kind of badge of honour to support a local team, as opposed to jumping on a global bandwagon, even though their rivals typically attain more success in the final league table.

The challenge of working with technology in TEFL

Although technology is evolving all the time, from virtual reality headsets (also known as VR), through to picture editing software, a lot of these features do not actually seem to go easily into a typical TEFL classroom environment. This is partly because of the prohibitively high cost of providing every student with a VR headset or Photoshop subscription, but also because they might not actually provide any obvious benefit in helping students become more proficient or fluent in their speech or writing performance.

Despite this, there are a few new trends in technology which may be of some service to the TEFL teacher, especially when assessing language performance. One of these is to take advantage of live word processing software tools and techniques, such as Google Docs. 

These are designed to show the edits that have been made by the individual along the way, and can actually reveal a lot of other hidden performance aspects, such as speed of typing, as well as how long a student really spends on their work. As a result, it might just be that bit easier to accurately assess a student’s effort on a task, and hence may even be simpler to show parents or guardians of a learner how much time was truly invested in a homework or class project.

Another positive feature of technology in the TEFL classroom is the introduction of live online quizzes, such as those offered by Quizlet or Kazoo. Briefly, these quizzes are a quick way of gauging student progress, checking for comprehension in a more interactive fashion while harnessing the visual aspect of these platforms to keep students engaged.

On top of that, most students love to be in competition with one another, so these types of games are really a great method of utilising that trait, and harnessing it for learning gains. Overall, any challenge that a TEFL teacher might face is one that could probably be overcome with a blend of patience, effective preparation through a bona fide TEFL course, and time.

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