What? You don’t Speak the Local Language?

How can you expect to teach someone when you don’t speak Chinese, Korea, Thai, Spanish or whatever?

You don’t need to.  Schools usually don’t want you to and if you do, they don’t want you to use it in the classroom.

Here is a good example: At my last job at a university in Korea, the native-speaker French teacher was fired for teaching using too much Korean.

The issue is that most EFL students have already studied English/French/Whatever language for years – in their native language. Kind of like talking about English, but using Korean, Chinese or whatever. Thus the poor level of English skills many EFL students have even after 4-5-6 years of study.

But – studying a language is a bit like driving a car.  You can talk about it and talk about it, but eventually you have to get in the car and drive. With English, you can talk about it and talk about it in Korean/Chinese/Whatever, but eventually you have to learn to listen and speak in ENGLISH.  That is why they hire you. To talk and teach in English.

Teachers who use too much of the students’ first language actually devalue their worth as a native speaker. Why should the school hire you and pay you double what they pay a local teacher if you are going to teach in Korean?

They can just hire a well skilled local teacher instead, usually for half the money or even less.  And no need to pay for airfare, accommodation and other expensive things foreigners need – like work permits, visas, etc.

The issue becomes more important after you spend a few years in a country and begin to gain some facility in the local language.

TED’s Tips™ #1: It is important to remember your function as a “native speaker”.  It is better to minimize the use of the local language in your classroom or even better yet – not use it all.

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

I HATE this Country! TEFL Troubles . . .

Have you heard that before?

If you are an experienced EFL teacher with many years abroad, you have probably heard it from your coworkers more than a few times.  Maybe even said it yourself.

The most common advice given to people who make much statements is something like this: It’s a big world out there. Move to somewhere you really like.

After all life is too short to waste in a country or culture that is not to your liking, isn’t it?

Well . . . yes and no.  Are you supposed to LOVE every country in which you teach? You probably already know that I like playing the Devil’s Advocate and I am going to do that here.

Examine your purpose and reasons for living abroad and if one of them is to better educate yourself about the world then sometimes living in a country/culture that you don’t like/enjoy/feel comfortable with — is an opportunity to learn more and to explore yourself a bit.

In three different countries, I found I quite disliked them the first year I lived there and two of them I came to quite like and enjoy.  One – not.

The one not, even after a few years of living and working there was Saudi Arabia. It was a culture just a bit too suffocating for me. Certainly, of course, there were things I liked about the place, but overall things were just wrapped a bit too tight for me. I did stay there five years though, for financial and personal benefit.

But, while the money was important, it wasn’t everything. Looking back I realize now that I learned a lot about human behavior, conservative religion and cultures and most of all, how much the education system in my home country never taught me about the world.  I probably learned more about that world in Saudi Arabia and more about what I don’t know – than anywhere else I have ever lived.

Saudi Arabia is a country that helps me believe that people MUST get out and see the world. Preferably a lot of it to get a better grasp on how the real world functions (or doesn’t). Get out and experience a few places for more than just a sandy beach or a ski holiday. Do really SEE the world. You’ll be quite surprised.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Get out and see the world and realize that just because you are not sympatico with a country or culture doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn while you are there. Don’t let it make you unhappy, be sure you get something out of the experience.

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


“Winging it” in TEFL: It’s Just Teaching English . . .

A reader in our comments section once wrote: I think I could wing it.

Well . . . maybe you can!
Or maybe you can’t.

After all, many people think that if you can speak English, you can teach it.  But, I don’t really agree with that idea.

There are effective ways of teaching English and there are ineffective ways and most untrained teachers have no idea what really works and what doesn’t.  And one of the most difficult and frustrating issues for learners of English is pronunciation and untrained newbies almost never know how to teach pronunciation in a useful way that helps their students.

What many people are proposing when they suggest “winging it” is to go to a developing country and take the money of poor people who are paying what is for them a LOT of money to sit in your classroom.  These people are paying good money hoping that you know what you’re doing and hoping that you will impart skills that will improve their future.

Is that really the approach you want to take in starting your new life abroad?  I hope not.

Even the most basic of online TEFL training classes can help you understand the basics of method and give you some idea of what works and what doesn’t.  And that you need to minimize “teacher talk time” and why.

Come on, get some training.  Feel good about what you are doing and do it right.  It really is as simple as that.

TEFL Training isn’t rocket science and even just a bit of good basic training can make a huge difference in what you deliver to your students and how much they learn.  And if they feel they are getting their money’s worth from you or are being scammed.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Deliver what your students are paying for.  They deserve your best efforts.  They really do!  Get some training.

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

Teachers get Respect. Be Sure you Deserve it.

I wasn’t sure what to title this post as there are several ideas swirling around in my head on this issue.  Mostly this post is about the respect you are given as a teacher and the responsibilities that come with it.

Know that teachers in most of the world are given much more respect than we are used to in our Western world.   It is not uncommon to have students bow to you in the hallways, stand as soon as you stand, not sit until invited and generally give you much more respect than you or I would have ever given our teachers back home.   This is a great thing as it often indicates how education and the people who provide it are valued.

Now . . . we all know that respect is supposed to be EARNED, not just given, right?

So – what I am going to ask you to do is to be sure that you earn the respect you are given in your new country.   Why not?  I am sure you will enjoy the benefits of that respect.

It will help your career and chances of success on your new job if carefully groom your image and reputation and look after it carefully in your new home.  After all, here is a rare opportunity to begin totally anew.  So – do things right.

Going back to earlier in the post where I mentioned the responsibilities that go with respect . . . Let’s talk about what that means.

Here are three things that your new country would like you to do to maintain that respect.

Dress Professionally. Take a look at how your host country counterparts dress.  If all the Korean teachers come to work in slacks and a tie then you should too.  Okay – at least nice slacks and a dress shirt.  You are part of a system in most countries and your counterparts worked hard to go to university and land that job that some TEFL teachers may just consider a lark.

Behave Professionally. Don’t think that because you live in a large urban city, the school and its parents and students will not hear about the wild time at bar on the other side of town.  The community of foreigners is closely watched in all countries.  Nothing sinister about it, people are just curious about you, your customs and ways.   Word travels fast.   Go to the next town over if you have to really let lose.

How fast does word travel?  When I was working in Francistown, Botswana in 1990, my car was stolen.  A couple of days later I ran into some local people passing through town who had heard about it in the capital city over 400 kilometers (@250 miles) away the day before.   How?!  Who knows, but word travels like wildfire.  Only faster.

Return Respect to your Peers. Treat your peers with the respect they deserve.   If you support them, they are much more likely to support you and even offer assistance if needed.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Follow those simple rules and you will find it much easier getting that contract renewed.  And you will come away from the whole thing with a much greater appreciation of your host country.

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