The most rewarding things in life don’t come easy. This is true for physical tasks, like running a marathon, but it can also be the case for passing an important exam or graduating at the end of a long, hard course.
Indeed, for some people, the challenge is part of what makes the reward so satisfying. This is certainly the case in a profession like TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), where many moments can be challenging, but the rewards make them feel all worthwhile in the end.
Below is a list of a few of the challenges that a TEFL teacher can face, along with some suggestions on how to overcome them successfully, as well as a few of the rewards that a TEFL teacher might get to enjoy too.
Challenge: Getting Started As A TEFL Teacher
As with any other profession, getting going on those first few days and weeks can be tough. The new TEFL teacher needs to get to know their students, the curriculum, and the culture of where they are teaching, as well as keep on top of all the new information being presented lesson by lesson.
Solution: Get A TEFL Certification Before Starting
To resolve this, planning ahead by getting a genuine TEFL qualification is the best way to proceed. These courses have the lowdown on all of the most essential elements of teaching English, from a refresher on grammatical aspects like the conditionals, all the way through to vocabulary features, like some fundamental differences between British and American English.
Additionally, these courses are a wonderful way to meet fellow TEFL newcomers, who are also keen to up their TEFL game and ensure they are fully prepared for their new job. The chance to bond with others on a similar path, sharing positive experiences and also supporting one another through some tough early moments, is an ideal way to maintain the motivation needed to be a successful TEFL teacher.
Reward: Having A Life Skill
On top of actually having a demonstrable qualification, that can be used to increase the chances of a successful job search, going through a genuine TEFL program is also a rigorous test of some key life skills, such as time management, flexibility, adaptability, and presentation skills.
Challenge: Deciding Where To Teach TEFL
For some, the decision to choose to teach English in South Korea is the right one, as there is a great blend of old and new culture there, as well as a fantastic infrastructure to support modern life. However, for others, the decision is not so cut and dried.
There are many new TEFL teachers who spend ages working hard to get their certification in hand but then can not make up their minds on where to teach. This is a dilemma that faces many individuals, and there appears to be no straightforward solution to this problem.
Solution: Write Lists
Writing lists can be an effective way to narrow the search down. In fact, just making a top 5 list of nations to think about is a great first step.
This process takes away many of the possibly distracting options that might be on a new TEFL teacher’s mind. Instead, these can be replaced with a more compact and comfortable approach, that can then be evaluated more clearly.
After narrowing it down to 5, then a list of the pros and cons of each can be factored in. These can include language, culture, distance from home, or even the age of the population in the country is thought about. This might sound strange, but people tend to have an age group they feel a stronger connection with, so knowing the average age of a group of people before setting off may just ease any issues upon arrival.
Reward: Increased Sense Of Belonging
Having whittled down the choice to the one the TEFL teacher feels is best, getting it right can really make all the difference. Most people do feel a sense of homesickness at some point during their time abroad, but this can be mitigated in large part by making a choice that is a good fit. Taking the time to invest in thorough research beforehand can really pay dividends in the long haul.
Challenge: How To Grow As A TEFL Teacher
In every vocation, there is a range of different ways to grow as a professional. In the world of TEFL, this is no exception. A TEFL teacher can be promoted, but there are a lot of ways this can happen. This can cause confusion and difficulty for some teachers, who may be content exactly as they are, and not wish to change anything about their life.
For others, a promotion might not come quickly enough, and this can leave them feeling like they need a new challenge. Alternatively, the path to promotion may involve relocation, which some teachers may relish while others do not wish to consider. In any case, deciding how and where to grow is a big decision that many TEFL teachers will face in their careers.
Solution: Be Proactive And Decide How To Grow
As a TEFL teacher, there is a range of growth options available. Some are obvious, such as becoming a director of studies or even starting one’s own business. However, a couple of other less obvious growth paths are to move into the world of content creation or to become an examiner.
Content creation can be in the form of creating curriculum content for a school, online platform, or education company. This might mean making exams in speaking, listening, reading, writing, or even a combination of all of the above. This can be a wonderful form of passive income, as these are jobs that require heavy initial input, and then a slightly lighter workload moving forward.
On the other hand, becoming an examiner is also rewarding in its own way, as this is a chance to meet and assess test takers from all over the world. Most examiners tend to specialize in either speaking or writing, with some exams even being held on a weekly basis, such as IELTS. This again can be a great side gig for a growing TEFL teacher.