Presuming that you have already done a bit of research into teaching English as a foreign language, you will probably already be aware of the basic role of an EFL teacher, i.e, to teach non-native speakers to speak, read, and write in the English language. However, there is a whole lot more to the role of an EFL teacher than simply standing in front of the class and teaching vocabulary and grammar. Your exact role will depend on the individual employer and the environment where you are actually working, but there are several things that will be expected of you in most situations.
What does an EFL teacher actually do?
For many teachers the most time consuming aspect of the job is planning and preparing lessons in advance. While teachers with plenty of experience can often get by with minimal planning as they will have taught the same lessons many times over, newer teachers will typically spend a great deal of time in this area. Many first-time teachers soon find out that cutting corners when lesson planning can turn into a disaster as lessons can quickly unravel due to all sorts of unforeseen circumstances. This also applies to organizing the necessary materials and equipment needed to make the lesson memorable for the students. By planning lessons thoroughly you will give yourself the best chance of getting through the early part of your teaching career unscathed.
Throughout each term or set of lessons you will also need to measure the progress of every student via a range of different tests and assessments that need to be administered at the right times and in the correct manner. A clear record of each student's progress needs to be kept and additional help assigned to any members of the group who are not keeping up with the expected level of progress. Regular homework assignments are another aspect of the job in many cases, with time spent in setting and marking. The teacher is also responsible for creating the right classroom atmosphere that allows every member of the class to reach their full potential. Sometimes the teacher will be required to enforce discipline within the group as young learners in particular can be disruptive due to boredom, external pressures, or peer pressure from within the class.
There are many other potential aspects to an EFL teacher’s job which will depend on the individual employer. In some jobs you will be expected to meet and discuss a student's progress with parents. In others there might be extra responsibilities such as playground supervision, internal meetings, field trips, and after school activities, etc. The best approach is to get as much information you can from the employer during the interview process to ensure you are clear on what is expected of you and whether you will be compensated for any extra hours you are required to put in on top of your actual teaching.
What does an EFL teacher need to be successful?
The most important thing you can do prior to teaching English overseas or online is to complete a good quality teacher training course. As with any other job, if you haven’t had sufficient training you will struggle to fill the role to the best of your ability. During a TEFL certification course you will learn all the basic skills and knowledge you will need to get you through those early lessons when you are still finding your feet. You will learn how to effectively plan and deliver quality lessons, how to manage the classroom and students behavior, how to test and evaluate their progress, and the best techniques for getting the necessary information across in a positive and encouraging manner. On top of all the things you will learn during a TEFL course, an EFL teacher will also require excellent communication skills, a calm and resilient outlook, and a passion for getting the very best out of every member of the class.
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