Troubleshooting TEFL: How to Overcome Funding-Based Difficulties
One of the greatest problems any teacher may face when instructing English is institutional. That is to say, the school the teacher is teaching at may not have the resources or the care to fully fund or supply the teacher with the necessary tools to instruct students. This can be a huge problem, as if the teacher starts from a disadvantaged position, they may feel like there is little hope for them to equip students for English learning.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Colin R. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What do teachers truly need?
However, a lack of funding is not the end of the world. In fact, a teacher does not need anything except a passion for teaching, and a bit of creativity. Although tools and resources can help greatly, they are not a requirement, and several strategies can be employed to ensure the students still learn despite a lack of money on the school’s part.
One of the most instrumental tools for teachers and students is the textbook in Despite how commonplace they are, a teacher mustn’t assume that textbooks will be up-to-date, in good condition, or even available. In fact, in some situations, there might be a large number of students who are forced to share a limited amount of textbooks. So what is a teacher to do? Outside of using personal funds to purchase more books, a teacher can adapt to the lack of materials by simply photocopying important lessons and using the book as a general guide for themselves. But even then there are some situations where photocopying might not be available. The teacher at this point may be forced to seek out a local photocopying center. This is where the teacher’s personal passion and motivation come in. However, if textbooks and photocopying are out of the question, there are still strategies to employ to teach English.
Some of these strategies are basic. Exercises do not require a textbook in the slightest. Singing, chalkboard use, and roleplay all simply require the students and teacher interacting. In fact, the Elicitation and Activation phases of most lessons only need for there to be a rapport and dialogue between the students and the teacher. These are not things that require cutting-edge technology, although they help.
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Designing activities for the study phase
The real problem comes in the study phase. Most study-phase activities require at least a little paper, and writing instruments of course. Hopefully, the school will have these at the very least. If not, however, the experienced teacher can still overcome these hurdles by using creativity. Perhaps repurposed objects or recycled materials can be handed out to the students. Using their writing materials, they can mark and interact with the objects, furthering their understanding of the English language with real, practical materials.
The teacher’s own belongings can be used as well. Most teachers will have a personal laptop or may be able to navigate the local environment better than the students. If the school does not have internet access, the teacher can locate a place that does, both developing the lesson plan there, and downloading videos and materials that might help visually stimulate the students. Again, a teacher’s passion and motivation are key.
Few teachers should have any problem bringing in their personal electronics for use in the classroom. Even something as simple as setting up a laptop computer at the front of the class and playing a video can greatly enhance the lesson.
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As for testing materials, these should most certainly be provided by the school. But even this is not a guarantee. Luckily, as mentioned previously, the only true requirement is the interaction between the students and the teachers. Teachers can verbally assess their students’ progress by either one-on-one dialogue activities, or going around the seating chart and individually calling on students. The latter, however, must be taken with care, as a teacher does not want to embarrass a struggling student in front of their peers. Hopefully, the school will provide a paper assessment at the very least.
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Many teachers take for granted the use of supplies and resources when teaching a class. Often though, some of the most low-funded areas are in greatest need of learning English, to better open the horizons of the students. A teacher may be discouraged by a lack of money or materials, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, with passion and motivation, teachers can go above and beyond to assist their students, turning a discouraging situation into one of triumph and opportunity for all parties involved.
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