Ask a Non-Native TEFL teacher: Career, Motivation, Self-Development


Hey guys, it's Liza here and I'm super happy to welcome you to our weekly ITTT live session. Today we are going to talk about some usual teaching stuff and if you are interested in anything related to TEFL teaching or career building, this is for you. Feel free to comment and I'll try to help you out with my thoughts and ideas, and maybe you'll find my suggestions useful. I have to fix my camera just slightly, I feel like it's moving down somehow. I hope that you can hear me clearly and see me clearly, please let me know where you guys are from. Also, let me know what stage of your career development you are at.

As for me, I'm a TEFL teacher. I used to teach in China several years ago but nowadays I'm almost entirely teaching online. I stick to the online teaching mode at the moment because it's more interesting for me and I think the future of online teaching is really huge. I can see that there are some people from India, thanks a lot for letting me know. I'm super glad to welcome you to this session. I can also see a question from the Philippines, nice to have you guys here. Let me just quickly switch the slide and remind you that this live session is provided by International TEFL and TESOL Training. Our company is represented on various social networks so if you want to get constant updates on TEFL teaching and TEFL certification, please check out our social media. You can also see the QR code in the top right corner, if you scan it with your cell phone you'll be able to get a 30% discount off any ITTT TEFL course.

I'm going to change the slide once again and we will go further with the main topic which is questions to an online non-native English teacher. I just decided to prepare several props so that I could share my personal experience with you, but if you guys have any questions on anything please feel free to use the comment section. So the first point I'd like to look at is the problems with professional development and self-development which many non-native English teachers face. As a non-native teacher it's extremely important to constantly develop. I know that sometimes people who reach the B-2 level or the C-2 level just completely stop improving their English skills and it is actually quite wrong. I don't think that this approach is something to stick to if we are non-native English teachers. Improving our English is vital. This is the main idea of being a teacher because you have to be professional in the subject. My general suggestion is to take some English level tests and try to work on improving your English skills.

The next point is that it is important to learn about teaching techniques. I know that when we start working we sometimes just neglect really important strategies in teaching English, which is also wrong because we have to be up to date as teaching methodologies constantly develop. I can actually see the difference between teaching approaches these days. For example, five years ago it used to be less interactive at that time, nowadays it's all about involving the students in the process.

I also want to point out that there are many opportunities to learn teaching techniques. For example, you can take a TEFL course which is quite obvious as it's one of the easiest ways to work on your teaching career and it's probably the first step in your career building. But there are also some other ways to improve. I would recommend you check out massive online courses, for example. There are sites like FutureLearn and Coursera and those platforms are extremely useful if you want to learn from the best companies like the British Council. Personally I took courses on FutureLearn related to childhood development and they are extremely professional, so I strongly recommend it. I have just added a link to the British Council resource. You can't see it right now but I'm going to share this presentation at the end of the session and you'll be able to click on it. It will lead you to a web page related to English teaching and there is so much useful information you can try to implement in your teaching process.

The next point I would like to look at is that it is extremely important to get some relevant experience. I know that when we start our career it is not that obvious how to get this experience. I've met so many English teachers who used to be managers or doctors or whatever and they came to the teaching field and wanted to dive into it and provide the best service but they felt they were lacking the relevant experience. For this reason I think that the best way to get some experience is to start teaching as soon as possible. For example, I know that in our TEFL course there are many students who start from the very beginning and they take the course before they get any experience in teaching. At the end of the course they find themselves being a bit irrelevant to the job market. So I recommend you maybe look at volunteer teaching, or taking some observed teaching practice. That is an option with ITTT as we offer a few different courses with Observed Teaching Practice. Feel free to check out the website to take a look at these course options.

As for myself, I try to communicate with the teaching community. For example, in Russia we have a really strong one and there are many teachers who are just super eager to help you out and give some suggestions and recommendations. I hope you'll look at this opportunity as well.

Online teaching is probably one of the easiest ways to get relevant experience because it's super easy to find a student online. For example, if you create your personal account on some platforms for online teaching it's a piece of cake to find someone to teach. Then it's just a matter of practice. The more you work, the more you gain experience.

Let's move on to some career development things. If we look at the career building process you will probably find it a bit complicated at the very beginning, but the more you practice the better you become. The first point is that it is super vital to research the job market. I know that sometimes it actually happens not only with TEFL teaching but with any other profession that people just start looking for job offers online and they respond to those offers with their CVs. This is the wrong approach. You need to research the job market and look at the overall demand and make sure that your resume fits into the requirements.

When we talk about resumes and CVs you should make sure that it is pretty short but it is also full of meaningful content. Look at the relevancy to the position itself. Make sure you show the most appropriate skills for the job you are wanting to get. Sometimes it's also important to add some more information which will stand out somehow, but it doesn't mean that you have to create some special design for your resume or add a picture which stands out. To make your resume stand out it is important to add a cover letter and to add some valuable experience which is not typical to the job market.

The last point is that I believe it's super important to reach companies actively. I know that we sometimes just don't want to be active enough but it's also a bad approach if you want to get a dream job. Make sure you are proactive in your job search, try to reach companies yourself, don't wait for them to respond to your application. Look at writing and sending a cover letter and a resume together on their various resources like on their website and maybe social networks as well. If you are really interested in the position try to be super proactive and try to make sure that they notice you.

Another idea would be to write a product proposal. I know there are many companies which provide online teaching services but some of them are not as big as others so they are limited in the services they offer. This is where you can actually give them value and if you know that you can help them to become better it's a great idea to propose several ideas to them.

I would like to move on to the Q&A session. The beginning of this session was related to self-development and career development and I hope those points were relevant to you and you found them useful. Right now I'm going to check the chat box and respond to your questions, so if you want to know anything related to teaching or career development please feel free to ask me now. I will be super pleased to see your responses and help you out with whatever you have on your mind. Just before I move to the comments I’m going to share this link with you, so just one second. I have already mentioned that if you look at the right top corner of this video you can see the QR code which gives you a 30% discount off any ITTT TEFL course. I'm also going to send a direct link to our website so just feel free to check out that link as well because it is a coupon link and if you click on it you will be able to get that incentive.

Okay, let's go to the questions. So the first question is from Ava from the Philippines and she asks if it's possible to become a TEFL teacher abroad if she takes a TEFL course?

So a TEFL course is important from different perspectives. First of all it's your self-development and professional development as a teacher. Secondly, when you apply for jobs abroad TEFL certification might be necessary for legal reasons, for example, for getting a work visa. I'm not sure which countries require a TEFL certificate, but for example in China they ask about it for sure and you have to provide it as one of the documents when you apply for a work visa. So I believe that a TEFL certificate is the first step on your TEFL journey abroad. Thank you so much for commenting.

Sometimes I feel I get really frustrated about the point which this person mentioned in the video, but actually non-native teachers can be even more helpful in terms of English teaching compared to native speakers because we actually have this experience of being completely monolingual and then becoming bilingual. I can't say that non-native speakers don't make mistakes, but they can help in many ways, for example, teaching English to children who are at the very beginning of their learning path. It’s also an extremely important point to say that some people are afraid to work with native speakers because not all native speakers know the approaches and how to work and correspond to some personal issues. For example, myself as a learner I can be super intimidated when someone says things like that. It's just humiliating and I believe it would be better if you don't comment like that.

I can see that someone asks about teaching resources. In the presentation I have just shared several links related to teaching resources. The first one was to the British Council and I believe it's probably one of the best resources where you can find teaching tips and learning approaches and stuff like that. But also there are a lot of websites related to online lesson design. For example, one that I have been using is ESL Brains. I strongly recommend that one. It's actually for intermediate to advanced levels, however, you can get their online lessons and adjust them to the level that your students are at. It's a really great resource. I am still not really sure what kind of resources you are interested in so please give me some more details and I'll try to recommend some other platforms where you can find online teaching resources.

So I believe that the point is that you want to design online lessons and you want to find materials for your lessons. If so then there are special websites like ESL Brains for example, but there are also resources which can be found for free without any subscriptions. Check out for example Teachers Pay Teachers, they actually have some lesson plans which are for free. Another idea is to check out the teachers profiles and go to their own websites because they usually share useful materials on their websites as well.

I would like to respond to this comment. Yes, I'm a non-native speaker and I'm not the best at public speaking, but I try my best and I hope you can understand that. Just don't be that judgmental because we are all people here. Thank you so much Alexia, I'm pleased to hear that. Hello Nina, nice to have you here. If you have any questions related to TEFL and English teaching feel free to ask.

Let's move on to a question from Alexis. Does having an in-class TEFL certificate give you any advantages over an online one?

When you get your TEFL certificate it doesn't state that you took it online, so I believe they are about equal. Of course there is not that much in the way of teaching practice in the online version, however, if you try to implement the knowledge from the online TEFL course straight away you should have equal opportunities as those who get an in-class course. When I found my first job in China they didn't ask me about in-class or online certification, they just accepted my TEFL certificate and that was all. I don’t think there is much difference between the certificates themselves.

All right guys, if you have any further questions on today's topic please feel free to ask. As for this question from Nina. If you want to find materials for learning English yourself without any teachers then I recommend you check out various course books from this in-use section. I personally prefer Cambridge Books and Oxford Books as they are quite easy to self-pace. I can't recommend you any specific resources because I believe that the best way to master English skills is to use them in your daily life, but if you want a more theoretical approach then probably sticking to a course book would be great. One of my favorite ones is English Vocabulary in Use and I also use English Grammar in Use together with that.

Apart from that I watch TV shows. For example, now I'm watching Charmed which is a really old TV show, but I like it a lot and there is much to learn from it in terms of vocabulary and grammar structures. Another way would be to listen to podcasts and there are many great YouTube channels as well. For example, Crash Course, if you are interested in various topics like science and history, and whatever. You can go to that channel and watch their videos because they have tons of useful information and apart from learning English you can also learn something else about this world.

I also like to read fiction books. For example, this month I've been reading, I forgot the name of the book because it's quite difficult but it's about the 9/11 tragedy. It's a really famous book and there is also a movie which is quite fascinating. Another book is one I've been reading as part of a reading marathon, it's called I Capture the Castle. I'm going to take a CPE test maybe next year and this book is actually one of their set texts, so that's why I chose that one. It's also interesting and it helps to learn English in use, like how it works in real life. If you don't practice English in your daily life it's pretty hard to master it and that's my personal opinion.

But again, if we circle back to the point of being a good speaker it's not actually just about being fluent in English it's also about conquering your inner self. So if you want to speak confidently it's not just about mastering your English skills it's also about working on your personal issues. This point is why I actually do these live sessions. Speaking in front of the public is not my cup of tea at all, I feel really frustrated and ashamed of my accent. But I think this is the way we learn and this is the only way we can become better. So these are all of my suggestions related to the point of improving your English.

Another question. How is Singapore for teaching English?

I am not an expert in this field. I know there is a section on our website, let's just check it out and see if there are any suggestions related to this particular country. I have just checked the job section on the website and there are no job offers for Singapore right now, but they actually update this section regularly so maybe they will add some soon. I'm not an expert in this country so to learn more information about work opportunities there I would recommend that you search it on the net. If you don't do your homework you won't know about their unique requirements in terms of hiring English teachers. For example, like in Hong Kong they have a governmental program for hiring teachers.

So if you want to get TEFL certified what you have to do is first of all scan the QR code in the top right corner of this video. This way you will be able to get a 30% discount of any TEFL course with ITTT. Or you can follow this link I'm going to send to the chat box. We don't have any specific requirements in terms of your education or English level. However, it is always better to be fluent and at least intermediate level if you want to enroll on the course because some information is really challenging and quite deep in terms of theoretical points. So just check out our web page and see if any TEFL courses are interesting and relevant to you.

I can see the next question, thank you Luisa, thank you for giving your friendly feedback. That's actually interesting to know, I'm super excited that you have prepared for that language test. What about your C-1 preparation, what are you going to take, are you going to take one of the Cambridge certifications or are you looking at IELTS or TOEFL? Let me know.

So yes, if you want to improve your English language skills, taking a language test such as IELTS is also vital because this is the way you can reflect on your experience and understand at what stage you are at. As for me, two years ago I actually wanted to apply for a university program but it didn't work out that time. But I still took the IELTS test and I got a C-1, which is 7.0 in the IELTS rating. It helped me to understand that my English was quite good but I had to keep working on it to become a better listener and a better speaker. This is something important for English teachers and I strongly recommend you look at this opportunity. Even if you don't want to move abroad to live in a native speaking country or don't want to study abroad, a language test is still really helpful.

Thank you for the question Amitabha, I can see that you have already been experienced in terms of professional development and as I see it you have to work on your CV. It's quite important to design your resume or your CV in the most appropriate way because if you find a job offer and you don't follow the requirements and just send them some irrelevant information about yourself, that won't help you to get that job. To master your CV writing I'd recommend you watch some YouTube videos, that's actually how I do it. If you are interested I think that for your next TEFL certification maybe the diploma course would be good. That would include job assistance and they will probably give you some recommendations on how to design your CV. Try to reach out to our TEFL managers and ask them if they can help you with it.

Hello Andrew, so ITTT is a TEFL course provider, we don't actually have any teaching positions in the company. However, we do work together with recruiters and teaching companies and you can check that out in our job section. Let me just quickly copy the link once again. If you follow this link you will get to the job section of the website and you can see if there are any updates around the world. If you want to work in a real classroom you'd probably need to check the requirements in terms of the pandemic situation, because for example in China the main requirement is that you have to get the Chinese vaccine before you apply for the visa. It might be that for some other countries it's also a requirement, so just make sure you check that out. But apart from that, I'd also recommend you check specific job websites or look at the opportunity of teaching online. I think that's the easiest way to get a job right now. I have actually done several live streams related to online teaching and in one of my previous ones I talked about online teaching platforms, so check out that recording and maybe you will find an interesting opportunity for yourself.

Let me just quickly change the slide. So I decided to create a Facebook group to keep in touch with you, so if you want please feel free to join me on Facebook and let's communicate there. If you are interested in it and if you have any specific questions I can respond faster there. Just let me copy the link as well, so follow the link to the group and I'll be happy to see you there. Also, on our website we have this section which is the contact us section. You can send a message using this form. All right guys, so if you have any further questions and if you want to communicate with me just join my group, add me on Facebook and I will be pleased to work with you.

There is a difficult question here and I'm not sure I can respond to it so fast. So what I offered to do is copy it and I'll give my full response in my group. There are some other specific questions I can see so please join my TEFL group that l have just shared and I'll try my best to respond there because I'm running out of time unfortunately.

Let's just answer this last one. So TOEFL and IELTS are English level tests. They help you to understand at what level you are at according to the European Framework. It's not actually about teaching, it's about your own English skills. It doesn't matter which test you prefer, they are both relevant because they are both for finding out your level.

Okay, so thanks a lot for the session guys, I hope to respond to the other two questions in my Facebook group so I will wait for you there. Just feel free to add me and join the group. I'll see you next week hopefully, I'll try to find another interesting topic for you. See you next week, bye, bye. Have a good day.

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