English Grammar: the Great Bugaboo

A lot of potential teachers worry about teaching grammar. In fact, most people I trained to be teachers were sorely behind on the their grammar skills – and no wonder, many of them last studied grammar 25+ years ago! Of course! Anyone would have a problem then.

Grammar skills and the ability to simply explain grammar is another hallmark of a skilled EFL teacher. Students expect their teacher to be skilled in grammar and if you aren’t you will probably lack confidence in the classroom. So, get skilled!

While I would like to give you a simple explanation and a couple easy links to read, as in most the other sections, there is not really a super easy way to master grammar. However, I can recommend the Fast Track Grammar Review for EFL Teachers – I wrote it!

This eBook was used in 2009 by the University of California – Irvine Campus – as part of their Education 134 Teaching English Internationally course.

Fast Track was written by an experienced TEFL Teacher-Trainer with a master’s degree in education (me!). Students on the TEFL Certification course I taught were having trouble quickly grasping the grammar they needed to pass the course and get their TEFL Certificate. Thus was born Fast Track to help them get what they needed quickly and easily.

Fast Track Grammar Review is a downloadable 66-page grammar eBook that is written for people intending to teach English or teachers who wish to brush up on their grammar skills. It emphasizes the idea of staying flexible and understanding grammar at a deep level. It also gives you a lot of vocabulary so you don’t have to feel intimidated when the subject of grammar comes up.

You should be able to read this e-book, check a few other resources, and bring yourself up to speed quickly (thus the “Fast Track” notion). Remember, most native-speakers of English already KNOW grammar intuitively, it is only that they don’t know how to explain what they already know.

Read the eBook with the idea that you will be introduced to a variety of NEW ideas about grammar. Note, for example, that some grammar books say there are eight parts of speech. Some say nine, some say more. Keep your thinking flexible and understand that different authors say different things. Just get to know the vocabulary of grammar, so you know what people are talking about.

Try the eBook, do all the exercises, pre-tests, and post-tests and you will be in good shape with grammar. Not to worry, the book is written with lots of graphics, practical examples and exercises and a bit of humor. The author knows that grammar is not a favorite topic of study. It also comes with a 100% no-questions-asked guaranteed refund. If you don’t like it, just ask for your money back, no problems.

Click here: Fast Track Grammar Review for EFL Teachers to read more about it and see some sample pages.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Not everyone is a fan of English grammar, but it is a part of the job. Learn what you need to know to give your student’s a fair shake.

The BEST EFL Teaching Jobs in China: Government Colleges, Universities and Secondary Schools offer the most reliable and worry-free jobs in China. Click on the Link if you would like to Teach English in China

Finding Your First Job Teaching English

Finding Your First EFL Teaching Job

The demand for EFL teachers worldwide is so great that you will find it surprisingly easy to land your first job offer. But take your time, find the right position and make sure you will be happy.

If you are interested in teaching English in China, head over to our friends at TEFL Jobs China

If you’d like to teach on a tropical island in SE Asia
(are you crazy – who wouldn’t!?) visit:
Teach English Phuket

If the lure of an exotic big city is your thing, take a look at Teach English Bangkok too.

If you are interested trying your hand at teaching English overseas, but don’t yet want to commit to a one-year contract, go over to TEFL Temp where information about short-term TEFL positions is posted. Some are as short four months and even include airfare and training. Hard to beat that!

Just about everything you could ever want to know about finding your first position Teaching English Overseas and just about everything else about living and working in another country – can be found at our companion website: TEFL Daddy.

Whether thinking about a two-year “lark” teaching overseas – or if you would like TEFL to offer you a long-term career – give the website a good read. No, it doesn’t really have all the answers, because the answers are as individual as each person thinking of entering the field.

Your needs, interests, skills, and goals are unique. But, TEFL Daddy can at least help you address each issue and get on the road to finding exactly what might fit you best.

TEFL Daddy is the original NON-Blog version of TEFL Newbie. Entries on the blog are often based on the pages of TEFL Daddy – but updated with more recent comments.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Do your research. Find out as much as you can before making a final decision. Heading overseas was the best thing I ever did – but it is not for everyone.

TEFL Abroad: What to Put in Your Suitcase

What should I take overseas with me?
What should I leave at home?
Should I mail stuff to myself?

Take only what you really really (really!) must. Humping heavy stuff around the world is no fun at all. Especially, as it seems you will only arrive on very hot and steamy days or in the middle of an ice storm, neither of which is a lot of fun for “humping” stuff around!


Okay, I’m an older guy, so I always think about what medicine I need that I can’t find over there. Ask on discussion boards. Generally speaking though most medicines are much cheaper overseas, so don’t bother to stockpile. Unless the medicine you need/want is unusual or very new, it will most likely be easy to find where you are going.

What is Critical?

Anything critical for maintaining your health, bring it with you.

Other Stuff

Bring only the basics in clothing. Yyou’ll find you can get by with far less than you are used to. Bring a few special photos of family and friends.

Teaching Stuff

Bring one or two reference books. Books are heavy and bulky, but they are often quite expensive overseas and sometimes hard to come by. But. . . with the Internet – you don’t need them quite as much.

You can look up almost everything online. And, even the most remote villages nowadays have Internet access (okay, an exaggeration!). But the Internet is available almost everywhere now.

To Bring a Computer or Not

Lots of people use moving as an excuse to pick up a nice notebook computer. To me, just something to worry about having stolen. A cheap desktop where you are moving will cost you (usually) about half what your notebook will cost. But, prices can vary a lot – so ask on the discussion boards. And, often, pirated software (I’m NOT advocating this) is loaded onto these desktops for free or a tiny fraction of what you would pay at home for the same stuff.

Get a big memory stick or portable external hard drive – load all your essential stuff on it – and bring that instead. It’s a whole lot less trouble!

Mailing Stuff

Not recommended. Things get lost, things don’t arrive. If you really need it, put it in your suitcase. If it is critical, carry it onboard with you.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Many of the items you consider very important to take with you, really aren’t. If you can’t imagine needing something in the first week on the job – don’t take it.


Another Older Teacher – Teaching English Abroad

Overcoming Obstacles for Older Teachers

A good topic was proposed by a teacher already working teaching English abroad:

I have been heartened by your comments on age. I’m a very young looking 60-year-old American with a degree in English Ed. After teaching for two years in Thailand I’m contemplating a move to Korea, for better teaching conditions and salaries. I plan to retire at 70. HOWEVER, what I’m finding repeated online makes my age look like a immovable roadblock; such as this I copied-and-pasted here:
“Employment by Age Preference: The Korean state government presently has a capped age limit of 45yrs for employment in the present English Program in Korea government state school scheme. Because the retirement age is 60 years any person over 60 will not qualify for a work visa.
Most employers are somewhat reluctant to employ any candidate over 45 years of age, even with good teaching qualifications.”

So… what say you?!

I’d say don’t apply for a job in the “English Program in Korea government state school scheme”.

But there are plenty of good Business English jobs in Korea where a bit of gray hair is an advantage. A few schools in Seoul specialize in Business English or in teaching adults – Pagoda is one of them – apply there.

Know also though that it might require you to go in PERSON and to do a face-to-face interview. Primarily so that they can see that you are full of energy, eager for and capable of teaching. And some employers also want to know if you are flexible and can handle feedback or criticism or if you are a defensive cranky old fart. Yeah, some of us older guys are! Not me and you though . . .

Just as a fairly standard rule – I would think that after about age 52 or so, you need to expect to do in-person interviews on the scene. Being hired from abroad does become quite difficult from that point.

BUT – by age 60 – you already know that life throws some crap at you from time to time and you only need to learn to work around it.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Older people need to look for jobs teaching English in areas related to their previous experience. That extra bit of value helps overcome ageist prejudices.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Realize as you get older you will probably need to do more face-to-face interviews to overcome ideas many people have about older teachers.