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What is TEFL & TESOL?

Both of these acronyms refer to teaching English and in practice, many teachers make little distinction between the two or are even aware that there is a difference.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and theoretically is used to describe teaching English to non-native speakers in a non-native speaking environment. This term is possibly more widely used in Britain although this is changing.

TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is used to refer to teaching English to non-native speakers in an English speaking environment. This use of this term is increasing in the UK as the number of immigrants and refugees needing to speak English rises.

There are some fundamental differences in the way English is taught and acquired depending on the situation it is learnt in. It is generally felt that TESOL courses provide a more rounded approach to English Language teacher training and equips trainees to teach English in both English speaking and non-English speaking environments.

ELT stands for English Language Teaching and is an umbrella that covers all aspects of teaching English.

TEFL & TESOL are also used to refer to the qualifications needed to become an English teacher. The standard entry level qualification for teaching English is a TEFL/TESOL certificate which typically takes four weeks to complete and will provide trainees with the basic skills and knowledge needed to confidently enter the classroom.

Easy Navigation:

What is TEFL & TESOL?

What is Teaching English like?

How can I succeed as an English       teacher?

Where to begin

On your TESOL course

At work

10 Tips for English Language       Teachers

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Finding Work

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Board of Academic Advisors

What is Teaching English like?

Like any other teaching job, TESOL is all about conveying relevant information to your students in an interesting and informative manner. Your lessons will encourage students to communicate with each other using structures and vocabulary that you have taught them in order to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities.

In addition to the skills and techniques learnt on your course you will have a wide range of resources to use during your lessons. Most schools will have a well stocked resource centre containing course books, supplementary materials and audio-visual aids and spending time in the staff-room can produce an impressive array of ideas and tips for the classroom.

English teachers typically find work in private language schools, public sector schools, institutions of higher education and in professional work environments. As an English teacher your work activities are likely to include:

  • Planning, preparing and delivering classes to students of all ages
  • Keeping accurate records of attendance, marking students' work and providing feedback
  • Designing courses and creating stimulating materials
  • Becoming involved in social and cultural activities with your students

How can I succeed as an English teacher?

Teaching English can be a challenging and rewarding opportunity. Wherever you teach you will meet new people and see new places, learn new skills and have memorable experiences. Following a few simple guidelines can help make this experience one that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Where to begin:

  • Know what you are doing. Deciding to teach English is just the first step. Take time to think about where and when you want to do your course and research your options thoroughly.
  • Organise yourself. Before you move overseas make sure your life is in order first. Take the time to organise your personal and financial affairs before you commit to your TESOL course.
  • Do your revision. Your TESOL course will be intensive and demanding. Reduce the amount of additional study you will have to do by brushing up on your grammar before you start. Check the reading list.

On your TESOL course:

  • Focus, commitment & discipline. The average TESOL course is an intensive 4 weeks and demands full commitment. Tell your friends and family what you are doing and ask them for their support and understanding during your studies.
  • Arrive in advance. If you are doing your TESOL course overseas arrive a few days in advance. Give yourself a chance to settle in, adjust to your new surrounding and relax before your course begins.
  • Manage your studies. There will be a lot of information for you to absorb in just a short time. Making sure your notes are well organised and up-to-date will save you time and effort in the future. Allocate appropriate amounts of time to your assignments and keep them in proportion.
  • Be professional. Teaching is a path that requires a professional attitude at all times. Start as you mean to continue by being respectful, courteous and punctual to everyone you come into contact with during your course.
  • Be organised in planning lessons. Planning a lesson takes time. Read up on the relevant topic and then consult your hand-outs. Decide fairly quickly what materials you are going to use and start planning on paper as soon as you can. Run through your plan with fellow trainees before you do them in class.
  • Read up on your grammar. Keep one step ahead by reading up on your grammar. Check meaning, lexis and spelling and make sure you understand it yourself before trying to explain it to students.
  • Make the most of your opportunities. You will have plenty of access to experience teachers during your course. Take the opportunity to learn from them and make the most of any observation sessions you are offered.
  • Keep things in perspective. Although you will want to be a dedicated student don't let the course get the better of you. Use your time efficiently, make the most of the resources you have available and set yourself realistic expectations.
  • Don't panic. Every teacher has a bad lesson once in a while. Learn from your mistakes and take regular time out for quiet reflection and to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Don't loose sleep over your marks.
  • Look after yourself. Take time out for yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep and manage your stress levels effectively. Eat regularly and healthily and if you are in a new climate, make sure you adjust to it carefully. Don't underestimate your liquid intakes.

At work:

  • Stay flexible. You made a plan before you started you course but things don't always go the way you want. Follow your plan but be flexible enough to adapt to the unexpected.
  • Develop as a teacher. Your TESOL course will have provided you with the basics but that's only the beginning. Continue to learn new skills and develop as a teacher. This will keep your classes fun and motivating and help you deal with apathy or laziness toward your classes.
  • Continue to be professional. In addition to being a teacher, you are also an ambassador for your country. Continue to be courteous, respectful and punctual with your employers and students and adapt to the norms of the new culture.
  • Enjoy yourself. You have the wonderful opportunity to live and experience life in a new and exciting culture. Make the most of this opportunity and immerse yourself in the language, customs and culture of your new surroundings.

10 Tips for English Language Teachers:

  1. Dress appropriately
  2. Behave appropriately
  3. Don't worry if your students don't respond at first
  4. Don't ask !do you understand?!
  5. Choose your topics carefully
  6. Present your rational for what you do
  7. Never pick on students
  8. Be aware of cross-cultural communication
  9. Expect the best from your students
  10. Relax and enjoy yourself

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