1. Talking too much

Imagine coming to a salsa class, but instead of working together and learning the moves, the instructor sits you down and “shows” you how to salsa dance. While you might get some tips, isn’t that really the best way to learn to dance? Well, that’s how it goes in the classroom, when the teacher rambles on and on. While students need your guidance and instruction, the best way for them to learn is through practice, so make sure you give them the opportunity. As a rule of thumb, you should aim for more STT (Student Talk Time) than TTT (Teacher Talk Time) and be ready to help and make suggestions.

2. Can’t be bothered with a TESOL course

So you speak English fluently and now you want to teach it. Simple right? Well, it’s not that simple. Although you can still find teaching without a TESOL course provider in some countries around the world, getting one is a very good idea for a number of reasons!

Your first introductory class may consist of a few games and small talk about where you’re from, but what about the next 6-12 months? Where do you start, how do you measure their level of English and develop lessons around it, can you explain the ins and outs of grammar? You are responsible for your students’ learning and development, so it’s unfair to show up unprepared. Completing a TESOL course will help you land the best jobs, earn more and often receive many other benefits.

3. being too pretty

At the end of the day, you are your teacher, they are your students, and while no one wants to be a grumpy teacher, you can’t go too far the other way either. By maintaining a good balance, you put yourself in a better position to provide a positive and productive learning environment for students – regardless of their age. You will find that by being positive and supportive, but firm when you need to be, your students will be more productive.

4. You expect a great experience from Get-Go

Yes, teaching English abroad is exciting, fun and life-long – but you have to take the time to settle in. While some people may enjoy big changes, most people need time to adjust. You are leaving friends and family, doing something that may be completely new to you, and living in a new house in a different country with a completely different culture. Once you get used to your new lifestyle, you’ll probably love it and find it hard to leave, but don’t forget to expect culture shock… and that’s totally normal.

5. accepting the first job offered

There are many TESOL jobs out there, so don’t jump at the first offer. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the working conditions – working hours, holidays, sick pay, training, flight allowances, termination bonuses – it’s this package that will make or break your experience teaching English abroad.

6. Leave your lesson planning for the free time of the day

After completing your TESOL qualification, you should be brimming with lesson ideas, and while you should have enough free time during the day/immediately after work to plan lessons for the next day or two, this isn’t always the best idea – especially if you’re new to the role. As a beginner, it is important to build positive relationships with other teachers and school staff, so get along with staff, attend social events and always make time to help other staff. You’ll find that it greatly improves your work and social life, and that people are willing to help you when you need it.

The demand for English teachers around the world is very high today as English continues to be the language of choice in many areas of life, from study and work to entertainment and travel. If you choose teaching English as a career, you won’t be unemployed for the foreseeable future, at least.

So, if you’ve heard stories from a returning teacher about the wonders of living and working in Thailand, Brazil or Morocco, and you think this might be the career for you, how exactly do you get started?

Well, the first thing you’ll face might be a minefield of acronyms, so let’s work through that first.

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. Add a T for the best TESOL courses online and you have Teaching English as a Second Language. EFL is English as a foreign language. Again, add a T and you have TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Traditionally, TEFL refers to teaching in non-English speaking countries, while TESL refers to teaching.

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