Do I need another language to TEFL?

Do you need another language to TEFL? Well, the simple answer to this question is, no you don’t. When you are hired as a TEFL teacher, you are hired to speak English exclusively in the classroom.  The whole point of having a teacher who speaks native level English is that you provide an atmosphere of total immersion in the classroom with the students required to communicate in English.

However, having a couple of local phrases or basic words can be helpful to grab your student’s attention from time to time.  If they feel you are aware of what they might be talking about or saying in their local language they are less likely to use it in class.  Also hearing you (sparingly) try to get you tongue around their language can create empathy and relax students.

Outside of the classroom, working on acquiring some of the local language can also be helpful.  Although many language centres and schools may provide a local co-ordinator who speaks English and you may have work colleagues from the UK, US, Australia, etc., it’s good to pick up some basic local phrases – this will allow you to acclimatise quicker and get the full benefit of local culture, markets and the people.  Your experience of teaching English abroad can only be enriched the more you embrace the local lifestyle and any new language skills you add can always be put to future use.

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