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5 Common TEFL Teacher Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

8 June 2012

1) Not doing your research

Make sure you know what kind of place you will be working in. Is it a public school or private academy? How long are your hours? What age groups are you teaching? Are you the only foreign teacher? What kinds of resources are available?

2) Not planning your lessons

tefl teachingNot even the most gifted teacher can breeze into the classroom and wing an entire lesson. Be sure to read over your material and know what you will be covering – not necessarily minute by minute, but at least stage by stage. It’s a good idea to touch on each of the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, bookended by an ice-breaking task or ‘warmer’ at the start and a summary exercise at the end.

3) Not laying down some ground rules

If you are teaching children, it’s essential to let them know who’s boss from the very start. Even if your students seem like little angels, at least some of them will require some discipline, from the cheeky rascals to the downright defiant. Not everyone enjoys this challenging side of the job, but mastering it is essential if you’re to be a success. Implement a system of punishments and awards from the very start, and then ease up once you get to know each other.

4) Not asking for help

esl teacherTeaching is a constantly changing and consistently challenging job. You can’t always handle it alone, so it’s important to know when it’s time to seek some assistance. This may be with lesson planning, classroom management, ideas for activities or simply emotional support – wherever you need help, don’t hesitate to turn to a colleague, fellow TEFL teacher or friend, either in person or via the net.

5) Not focusing on fun!

Never forget that teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs out there, and that you should be always be having fun – and then your students will too!

Jonathan Last’s autobiographical novel, “Teaching with Chopsticks: TEFL from the Frontline,” is available to download in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats.

You can watch a video interview with him about the book on his blog.

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