Life is full of challenges, which test even the strongest individuals. Some of these challenges involve how to balance all that life has to offer, from spending time with friends and family, to making the most of travel opportunities that come up along the way.

One great way to overcome many of these issues is to think about becoming a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher. Below is a list of some of the more common concerns that teaching English presents, as well as some useful hints on how to power through them.

What is TEFL?

TEFL is the teaching of the English language to those who need it for their educational, professional or social purposes in life. Here’s a great place to get started on finding out more about the basics of TEFL, from visa entry requirements for different nations, all the way through to potential salary points in differing global locations.

Although it may seem pretty obvious, a lot of people thinking about entering the world of TEFL have not actually factored in the many upsides to getting a reliable TEFL certification. One such advantage is having the chance to be considered for many more jobs worldwide, as several countries indeed have a specific TEFL certificates requirement as part of their admission process for non-native work visa applicants.

Additionally, TEFL recruiters across the planet see this extra intention and effort as a really positive sign that the new TEFL teacher is serious about their new vocation. This means such applications often get pushed right to the top of the list, thus meaning the wait for a TEFL teaching position ought to be much less for these people.

Last but not least, the courses are run by teams of expert TEFL professionals, who have years of real-life experience to hand to guide the newest TEFL teachers on their way. Therefore, why wait to get started, because now is a perfect time to get TEFL certified and begin teaching right away!

What is the biggest challenge for new TEFL teachers? 

With a high-quality TEFL certificate in hand, the new teacher should be good to go. Having said that, there are still a number of reasons why a new TEFL teacher could be worried or concerned about facing a classroom of complete strangers.

One of these comes down to communication. Some new teachers have not had a lot of experience in speaking in front of an audience, or might simply be a bit shy by nature. In any case, it can be daunting to even contemplate those opening days and cause some understandable anxiety in the moments before lessons start.

Fortunately, TEFL is a great field to build up confidence in public speaking. In part, this is because the students almost always have the same kind of nervous energy about learning a foreign language, especially in front of a native speaker of that language, and English is no exception.  

On top of that, once the TEFL teacher and students start getting to know each other, both often quickly realise that English can be fun, and become more immersed and engaged with the challenges that learning English presents. Consequently, any initial butterflies in the stomach ought to disappear relatively quickly, especially when faced with how to explain the difference between the past simple and present perfect grammar functions, or how to differentiate the pronunciation on minimal pairs, such as ship and sheep.

What is another challenge that TEFL teachers typically face?

In the past, TEFL teaching almost exclusively took place in a physical classroom setting, with one teacher standing at the front of the room while scores of students sat and wrote down what they heard. However, times have changed, and this has certainly impacted TEFL teaching as a whole in a number of ways.

Of course, it goes without saying that the digital age has provided the chance for many learners to study TEFL remotely, and this has also created an opportunity for teachers to teach online as well. The challenge here then is to decide whether to teach TEFL in person, online, or a hybrid of both.

The reality is that this answer will depend entirely on the TEFL teacher themselves. For some, growing up in a virtual era has lent itself nicely to the many benefits of working from home.

These include avoiding the morning and evening commute, saving precious time spent in traffic jams that can then be put towards lesson planning and preparation. Also, teaching students from across the globe is much easier when working digitally, reaching learners from regions as diverse as South Korea and Colombia in one day.

Despite this, the pull of traditional in-person TEFL teaching is still strong. This can be done in almost any town or city, from those where English is not the first language such as Seoul, or even small towns with growing migrant populations, who need the English language in order to integrate more seamlessly into daily life there. 

What is one last challenge TEFL teachers might face in their careers?

Finally, after deciding how and where to teach TEFL, the last challenge can come with choosing which age group to work with. Indeed, it is possible to elect to work with really young learners, or even older students who might wish to pursue English as a hobby or as part of their career growth.

Again, this topic is one that is specific to the TEFL teacher in question. For those who prefer the hustle and bustle that a kindergarten group can bring to the table, then this would be the right option for them.

By contrast, other new TEFL teachers might wish to find a setting that still has a lot of enthusiasm and energy, but with a touch more patience and control, so the primary school scene could be more up their street. For still others, secondary school learners can sometimes have more discipline in terms of being able to sit for longer during presentations, or discuss more mature topics such as personal finances or school rules in a debate or discussion type of setting.

In any case, all of these challenges are possible to overcome, with perseverance, time and effort on the part of the new TEFL teacher.

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