Teaching English as a foreign language is a tremendously rewarding experience. Being able to share your knowledge with your students and watch as they become better English speakers is up there with the best thing you could ever do in life.
People start TEFL courses for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to embark on a whole new career, or maybe they’re fresh out of university and looking for a reason to travel the world.
Whatever your motivation or stage of life, being a TEFL teacher can make even the most determined of us nervous. A lot of us aren’t used to standing up in front of a classroom of students, and the fact there’s a language barrier between you may even seem a little bit intimidating. All TEFL teachers have felt like this at some point or another, so we’ve put together some useful tips for tackling the nerves and becoming more confident in the classroom.
Practice, Practice, Practice
We only get confident at doing something when we’re used to doing it. The best teachers and public speakers have all had a 'first time' where they couldn’t control the butterflies in their stomach. Once you’re over the nerves of your first few lessons, you’ll feel yourself becoming more assured in the way you speak and the way in which you interact with your students.
If you want to hit the ground running from your first lesson though, there’s plenty of practice exercises you can do. Try giving your lesson a test run on your friends and family. With a simple lesson plan and some visual aids, you’ll be able to hone your style and get over that initial awkwardness.
Plan, Plan, Plan
We’re often at our most nervous when we feel like we’re out on a limb, stranded on our own without very much support. However, we can minimise this. If we feel like our lesson isn’t as good as it could be, we’ll obviously feel less confident in the classroom.
So for a more confident you, and an overall better experience for your students, make sure that your lessons have been properly planned. The stronger the planning, the better the lesson, the more confident you’ll feel. As you start to feel more confident, the lesson becomes stronger still as students learn to trust you.
Check that you’ve got all the resources you need. Are there enough to go round the class? How will you respond if the class doesn’t appear to understand this aspect of English? There’s so much truth in the old adage: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Teach, Teach, Teach
This may sound obvious, but we don’t know how well anything will go until we do it. There’s no point in waiting nervously and fretting about the worst case scenario. Throw yourself in at the deep end, and you’ll discover just how good a teacher you are. It’s more likely to be your students who are really nervous in the classroom, so by making sure you’re giving everything you have, you’ll put them, and yourself, at ease.
Don’t think of teaching as a hurdle to overcome, think of it as what it is - a soul-enriching, enjoyable experience that allows you to unlock some of the potential you’ve got stored within you. The most important thing about your TEFL journey is enjoying it, so why not start today?
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Previously: A Closer Look at Teaching English in Korea