What are the most common concerns for first time TEFL teachers?

At ITTT, we firmly believe that English language teaching is one of the most rewarding careers, particularly for those yearning to travel and embark on life-altering journeys. But like any job, teaching English does have its highs and lows. Novice teachers often harbor specific concerns unique to the teaching profession about their classroom roles. Here, we address some recurrent concerns among our TEFL graduates before they embark on their first teaching assignment.

What if I don’t like my students?

Many beginner teachers wonder about this. As a teacher, you will encounter various personalities in your classroom, and it is unrealistic to expect harmony with everyone. The most pragmatic approach in such cases is to maintain professionalism, avoid showing any frustration, and refrain from showing favoritism.

What if my students don’t like each other?

In any large classroom, potentially housing up to 30 student's or more, clashes might occur. The same applies to an English language class. Over time, conflicts can arise, or individual students can carry external issues into the classroom. If situations escalate, simply separate the students and ensure they are not teamed up for group activities.

Also read: How do you deal with misbehaving TEFL students?

What if my students don’t do their homework?

Your approach will largely depend on the students' age group. For younger learners, establish rules around homework completion and the consequences of neglecting it. With adults, the decision to complete homework primarily lies with them. In both cases, focus on motivating students and assigning engaging homework tasks, rather than bland textbook exercises.

What if I have a lot of students?

Class sizes fluctuate greatly across different jobs. Often, the number of students is predetermined, but not always. Depending on the school type, you may have a group ranging from 10 to 50 students or more. You will need to plan efficiently to maximize the group's potential and modify activities for larger groups.

Also read: Can I teach English abroad without any teaching experience?

What if my students are at different levels?

Generally, language schools group students based on English competency levels. However, in standard schools, a class might include students at varying levels, necessitating extra planning. Have additional exercises ready for fast-paced students and provide additional guidance for those who might struggle.

What if I don’t speak the local language?

Many new teachers worry about this, but it rarely creates significant issues. Most TEFL classrooms worldwide operate on the immersion theory, using only English. Teachers fluent in their students' language might resort to translations, which could hinder a class's progress. Learning the local language to integrate into the community is beneficial but refrain from relying on it in the classroom.

Also read: Can I learn a foreign language while teaching English abroad?

What if my school has no resources?

You typically don't know what resources will be available until you arrive at your school. You might find an abundance of textbooks and activities, or you might need to create your resources. It is best to carry a USB drive with all your resources, ensuring they are always at hand.

What if I don’t like my job?

The nature of each job and the colleagues and students you will interact with are variables you can't always predict. If you face challenges, consult your peers or management for possible solutions. If the situation is untenable, breaking your contract is usually possible, though it should be your last resort to minimize disruption to your students' learning.

Also read: What are the best books for TEFL teaching?