It is often said that there is no hard and fast way to be the perfect teacher, yet everyone seems to remember their favourite one growing up. Whether it was the tutor that helped a student grasp that tricky topic, or one that made the subject come alive in a weird and wonderful way, a successful teacher is one whose lessons live on long after they have been taught in the classroom.
Naturally, some of the ability of being a great tutor is innate, as with any other skill or proficiency. However, as with any vocation, it is also necessary to work hard and refine this skill set over time.
Most Successful Tips to Improve English Teaching Skills
For TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, this is no exception, so below are 7 tips for any wannabe TEFL pro to follow to become the best teacher they can be in their own right.
1. Get Certified
In many professions, education and regular self-development is a mandatory part of staying current with the latest trends. In the world of TEFL, this is certainly the case. One of the easiest solutions in this sphere is to choose a Level 5 course, that will provide the optimal platform from which to launch into a successful TEFL career.
On these courses, there are experienced professionals ready to share their knowledge gleaned from a career in the field, as well as answer any and every question that may come up during the course. Furthermore, the course provides a rigorous introduction to the basics of being a TEFL teacher in real life.
2. Discover a Speciality
When many people think of teaching, their minds almost always drift towards the conventional classroom, with a group of 30 young children waiting to get their lesson plan. Although this traditional notion does still exist, and there is certainly a role for the TEFL aspirant who wishes to pursue this path, there are now a plethora of alternatives for other budding TEFL maestros to think about too.
For one thing, it is now possible to teach online, with the Internet opening up a whole host of possibilities for remote instruction. Some teachers and students simply feel more comfortable in this mode. There are learners across the whole spectrum of English language levels, from beginner all the way up to more advanced learners. For higher levels, the questions may be as varied as the difference between translation and interpretation, or when to use the gerund or the infinitive (more on that below).
3. Become an All-Rounder
In some sports, such as cricket, there is high value in being an all rounder, in other words a player who can bat, bowl and field effectively. Teaching is another area where being flexible and having many tools in the kit could be a huge asset.
For example, a group of students in a morning class might need significant support with their English writing skills, whereas an afternoon group may wish to focus their energy more on developing conversational fluency. The reality is that listening, reading, writing and speaking are all essential parts of learning a foreign language, so it makes total sense for a TEFL educator to want to be prepared in all these sectors too.
4. Invest Time and Effort in Improvement
While doing a teacher training course (see above) is a fundamental step in becoming a great TEFL teacher, there are alternative ways to improve as a teacher. For instance, taking the time to rehearse and practice lesson presentations in the mirror, or with friends and family first, could be the key that makes the real thing that little bit less fearsome.
Alternatively, purchasing quality resources to brush up on the finer nuances of grammar might be the pivotal step in unlocking all of that TEFL teacher potential instead. It is imperative to recognise that students often reflect the attitude and mentality of their own teachers. If they see a tutor who is willing to go the extra mile and become the best they can be, they are that much more likely to do so themselves.
5. Be Open to Advice
Teaching is a lone pursuit, with some educators making, teaching, and evaluating their own curriculum what might feel like virtually single-handedly. This is why it is vital to be able to get meaningful and honest feedback from others at every step of the way.
Whether it be getting another to observe a lesson and then listen to their assessment of that class, or another form of more informal feedback from an experienced teacher who has been there and done that, it is useful to get a secondary viewpoint on any possible blind spots from someone who knows how it feels.
6. Get Creative
Let’s face it, some lessons are just not that interesting. It could be learning about a whole host of phrasal verbs that just doesn’t click, or a session on idioms that is not inspiring, but every good teacher needs to be able to mix it up every once in a while with something new.
One easy and effective way to do this is by using short language learning games to provide a quick break in the lesson, to refocus minds and get re-energized for the next part. Another option is to have a theme day, where students are taken out of the usual class rhythm, and given a glimpse into a different world, form perhaps other cultures or countries.
7. Meet Every Challenge Equally
It is so easy as an educator to get carried away when a great lesson plan completely comes off, and everything goes according to plan. By the same token, it is just as simple to become demoralised or deflated when the going gets tough, and nothing seems to be going right.
In any situation, the best advice is to stay level-headed, and remember that no matter how good or bad an individual session goes, that each and every student will recognise the level of effort and intent that a hard-working TEFL teacher puts in each day.