Essential TEFL Teachers Personal Qualities
I have eight years of experience teaching English to children in Japan. I was usually the sole teacher in the classroom. I taught at an eikaiwa. An eikaiwa is when the children come to study English after school or on the weekends. Many personal qualities were important for me to develop as an English Teacher, to become successful and confident in the classroom. I will discuss these personal qualities, and how they improved my English lessons for my students.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Rachel S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
I learned how to stay calm in all situations, often I taught young children who would cry when their mother left them in the classroom. I had to stay calm so that the child would feel safe, relax and hopefully stop crying. Calmness is very important in the classroom and helps the students feel at ease, especially if they are with a foreigner that they cannot communicate with.
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Being organized was also an important personal quality that I developed a lot. I planned my lessons well so that I knew what I was going to teach and which materials I would use. I was provided with course books, CDs, DVDs and picture cards. I organized everything before the class started, and had it ready to go during the lesson, for example, the CD on the right track and picture cards in order the right way around.
I found that being cheerful and friendly were personal qualities that were very necessary for the classroom, and with the students' parents. The parents were trusting me with their children for an hour, so it made them feel reassured that their children were in safe hands when I greeted them cheerfully at the door when they dropped them off. Being cheerful in the classroom helped to make the lessons fun and engaging for the students and encouraged them to participate in the lesson.
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Be Creative and Handy
As an English Teacher, I had to be creative and resourceful with making things to use for games in my classes. Students took an interest in things that were created specifically for them. I became resourceful using the few materials that were provided in the classroom to make up fun games. Each classroom had a set of wooden blocks that were of different sizes. I made up games using the blocks to build towers, play bowling and Jenga. All the games included speaking the target language in a fun way.
Due to teaching many young children, I found that being energetic and enthusiastic were personal qualities that helped to keep the children interested in learning English. Young children have short attention spans, so the teacher needs to have lots of energy to play games, sing songs and have fun in the classroom.
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It is also important for an English teacher to be patient and flexible in the classroom. Often even the best-planned classes will need to be adapted once the students arrive. Some students might have a lot of energy and be easily excited, other students might be exhausted after coming from school, or sports practice, to English class. The teacher needs to assess how the students are feeling to which games will be appropriate.
Punctuality is probably the number one personal quality for English teachers in Japan, as being late is not acceptable and you could lose your job for being late too often. It is rude and makes the company look bad. I always arrived two hours before the start of the first class to prepare the classroom and materials.
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Other personal qualities are important for English teachers, however, these are the ones I developed and will use when I continue my teaching career in China next year.
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