Teaching abroad brings a mix of emotions for teachers starting their new adventure. The initial excitement of preparing for your upcoming life abroad is often immediately followed by worry about what it is going to be like in the classroom. Will my students understand me? Will they be engaged in my lessons? These questions are common, natural reactions that all teachers face when preparing for their teach abroad experience.
Luckily, an in-class TEFL course is a great way to ease your way into not only teaching but your new country and culture as well.
Here are 5 great benefits of taking an in-class TEFL course:
1. Networking with schools and teachers
Applying to schools from your home country can be intimidating. You may hear horror stories of instructors who signed a contract only to find out that their school, housing, or teaching arrangements were not exactly what they expected.
Taking an in-class TEFL course will allow you to meet former TEFL graduates and learn about what the best teaching positions and schools are in certain locations. In many classes, new TEFL candidates will have the chance to observe former graduates and experienced teachers in their own classrooms.
Being able to visit the school and meet your future co-workers will put your mind at ease about where you choose to sign a contract.
2. Learn how to handle English language learners in the country you will teach in
All TEFL courses will give you a general sense of what it is like to teach English as a Second Language. No matter where you take your course, these skills can be applied to English language learners around the world. However, being in-country for a TEFL course will expose you to language difficulties specific to learners of the country that you are going to teach in.
If you take a TEFL course in Shanghai, for example, you will be able to understand common mistakes that native Chinese speakers face when speaking and writing English. Once you can identify these issues, you will be able to anticipate and effectively address these mistakes.
In-class TEFL participants will also be able to get hands-on experience while completing their teaching practice. Teachers will be able to see and hear these mistakes made by students and have the opportunity to address and correct using techniques learned in the TEFL course.
Having both the knowledge and experience dealing with language learners from the country where you are going to teach will make you a more effective teacher.
3. Build References
In-class TEFL courses usually range from 3-4 weeks and include full-day classes and teaching practice. This is a great opportunity to show that you are a quick learner and able to accept feedback and improve your teaching. Even if you have never taught before and are shaking before your first lesson, that’s OK! You will get the help you need and will be able to show improvement in each one of your lessons.
Being able to put yourself in an uncomfortable position, accept feedback from your instructors, and adjust your lesson plans to improve your classes are exactly the skills that schools are looking for in their instructors.
A reference who can speak to your abilities in the classroom goes incredibly far in the world of English as a Second Language teaching. Schools will be much more eager to hire teachers who they know are friendly in the classroom and who work well with other teachers. While you may not have the experience yet, showing schools that you are dedicated to improving and becoming the best teacher you can be is extremely valuable.
Not only will you be able to get references from your TEFL instructors, but your fellow classmates will also be great resources to validate your teaching abilities. Your classmates will have the opportunity to watch you build confidence in the classroom and see you improve throughout your lessons as you complete your teaching practice.
4. Familiarize yourself with the city
A great advantage of taking an in-class TEFL course is the ability to get to know the city and country you plan on teaching in before you take a position. TEFL courses run on a Monday – Friday schedule so you will get plenty of time to take weekend excursions through the city. Exploring a new city for a month will give you enough time to learn how to take public transportation, set up a bank account, memorize some helpful survival phrases, and most importantly, learn which areas of the city you would like to live in.
Exploring neighborhoods, seeing what restaurants and shops are available as well as meeting people who live in various parts of the city will help you to make an informed decision on which area of the city is the best for you to live in. As you visit schools and apply to jobs, you can map out the distance and time it will take to get there.
Having an entire month to explore the city will make starting your new position much less stressful. You can focus on your lesson plans and arranging your classroom instead of how and where to find the supermarket, bank, or department store.
5. Make lifelong friends
The classmates in your TEFL course will be in the same position as yourself. They have spent months getting ready for the transition to a new country and you will go through all elements of culture shock together. You may have some classmates who have never taught a class in their lives, while others may be experienced teachers. Together you will study for exams, stay up late to perfect your lesson plans, and deliver them in front of each other.
Navigating culture shock and the demands of the TEFL course together will lead to a close bond with your classmates. Your classmates are also likely looking for a teaching position in the same city as yourself so there will be opportunities to share an apartment or find a teaching position at the same school.
Living and working in a foreign country is an experience that only a few people get the opportunity to have. You will end up making friends from all over the world that have shared this unique adventure with you.