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Kenneth Beare

A First Time TEFL Teacher's Experiences

By June 8, 2007

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Here's an interesting article at the Guardian Unlimited about Russ Davies' experience as a first time TEFL teacher in Japan after taking a 24 hour TEFL crash course. Although things didn't go so well, it gives great insight into what can happen when you teach English abroad.

If you are thinking about getting a certificate, here's a review of an online certificate program that can get you started. It's important to remember, these certificates are the starting point of any TEFL teaching experience, the real learning begins on the first day of your first job!


June 12, 2007 at 12:51 pm
(1) Emily says:

This is exactly what I don’t want to happen to me! I am about to go into this field and don’t want to go into it blindfolded. I have been doing a lot of research online and taking it seriously so hopefully I will be prepared.

June 20, 2007 at 12:43 am
(2) Kiki says:

Having been involved in TEFL for a good number of years, what I read in the article rang all too true. Not through my own career but through what I’ve seen with schools in the world arena claiming to provide “professional, high quality education” carried out by their native speaking academic staff. Sadly enough, the service provided by a lot of these schools falls way below even the lowest of standards, and I cannot decide if it’s better to think that they are not even aware (and thus it’s a question of professionalism) or that they do it fully aware of their ailing services but overly preoccupied with making a decent profit (in which case it is a question of morale). Of course, employing EFL teachers with minimal or no qualifications and experience is in many cases a matter of “this is what we can (or are willing to) pay for”…
What happens is that with the expanding role of the almighty internet in training as well as recruiting EFL teachers, there’s more opportunity as well as risk in finding both employment and employees. Sifting through the endless lists of courses, jobs and resumes and picking the right one requires more toil and effort by both schools and teachers.
I believe that good teaching is to a great extent down to having a flair for it, which of course can (and must) continuously be improved through training and hands-on teaching experience. Your development as a teacher depends to a great extent on which school you choose to work for. Not just whether they claim that “your compensation package includes free training” but also on what material they have available and you have to work with, how much professional support and ideas you can get from your DOS as well as fellow teachers etc. If you are to take TEFL just a wee bit seriously, take great care in choosing your employer. Otherwise you’ll end up undergoing an altogether useless (to say the least) work experience, possibly even feeling ashamed that you worked for that school.

June 20, 2007 at 10:33 pm
(3) Ana says:

I felt the exact same way when I first went to Japan, especially with toddlers. I did develop significant skills with the older kids and adults, and learned to follow the teacher’s guides, which really helped.

In my second school especially, I had an excellent experience and real pros to watch and learn from, so I was fortunate. I hope to be that fortunate again as I seek another position there.

As for formal training, I wish I could go for the real first certificate, the CELTA, but I haven’t been able to come up with the money (or the time off required). I honestly don’t feel online certificates represent proper training. Still, that may be my only route at the moment, until I’m more established and can go for a real course.

June 21, 2007 at 6:44 pm
(4) George says:

I am currently living in Brasil and teaching ESL. I used to live in the USA.
I have had only one school treat me badly (late paychecks and classes which I was not paid for) — the other schools have been very professional.
And, I have never had a desire to teach in the Orient. I wonder why?????
If you would like more information about making money teaching ESL in Brasil, please write to whatnext99@yahoo.com and I will tell you what I know.

September 2, 2013 at 6:27 am
(5) Luke Thompson says:

I’ve been a TEFL teacher for 12 years, and it really annoys me when people assume that becoming a TEFL teacher is some kind of fast track to living a kind of On The Road existence, while assuming that the job will be as easy as babysitting. TEFL is a challenging job which requires skill, patience, energy and drive. It’s not just a holiday job. You can’t learn to do it in 24 hours.

If you plan on becoming a TEFL teacher, don’t be surprised when you actually have to do some work in the classroom. It is a very rewarding experience which can take you to some great locations around the world, but make no mistake, it is a proper job and you will be underpaid and your work will not be fully rewarded by lots of the cowboy schools out there.

Just saying…

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