10 Challenges of Teaching English That a TEFL Certificate Can Help You Overcome
Ah, teaching. It's the most rewarding career you can have. But that doesn't always mean it's easy—especially if you're teaching English abroad! As an ESL teacher, you'll undoubtedly face numerous challenges and roadblocks as you navigate cultural differences, language barriers, and the art of teaching in general.
Never fear! That's what a TEFL certification is for! As one of the primary requirements to teach English abroad, a TEFL certificate is vital training that ensures you're adequately prepared for the classroom from day one, regardless of what comes your way.
Here are a few challenges of teaching English abroad you may encounter and how TEFL can solve them.
What is a TEFL Certificate?
First things first, you may be wondering, what exactly is a TEFL certificate? TEFL is an acronym that stands for "Teaching English as a Foreign Language," and a TEFL certificate is formal training for aspiring English teachers.
While it's possible in some places to teach English without a TEFL, the best TEFL courses teach you cultural awareness, language teaching methodologies, English grammar rules, and how to plan effective and engaging lessons. Essentially, a high-quality TEFL certification ensures you can overcome all challenges of teaching English abroad!
Read more: How Much Should a TEFL Certification Cost?
10 Challenges of Teaching English That a TEFL Certificate Can Help You Overcome
Before you begin your exciting new job, here are some common challenges you may face as an English teacher that are made easier with appropriate TEFL training.
1. Stage Fright and Public Speaking
Stage fright and the fear of public speaking as a new teacher is totally normal! Choosing a reputable TEFL course with an in-class practicum before you teach abroad allows you to practice teaching and speaking in front of peers before your first day.
That's because an in-class practicum allows you to apply what you've learned in your TEFL training to an actual classroom setting through classroom observation, assistant teaching, or even private tutoring. You can't beat that kind of confidence boost.
2. Lessons Not Going as Planned
It happens to the best of us: the projector won't connect, the internet is out, or your students aren't loving the PowerPoint presentation you've created. Fortunately, a TEFL certificate can teach you the importance of staying cool, calm, and collected. Teachers need to be masters of problem-solving, and with the proper training, you'll be a pro at adjusting lessons in the moment and coming prepared with a quality backup plan!
3. Teaching a Classroom with Students at Different Levels
You can do everything you're supposed to: create engaging study guides and plan exciting activities, and some students will still need help to grasp the material. That's because it's inevitable that your classroom will have students of varying levels and learning styles.
As a new teacher, the right TEFL course teaches you the best practices and teaching methodologies for how to manage teaching students with different learning needs so you can provide the best learning environment for all.
4. Language and Cultural Barriers
It's only natural that as a teacher in a foreign country, you'll face language or cultural differences. These moments of misunderstanding may be between you and your students or even you and your fellow co-teachers. These moments can be frustrating or stressful, but TEFL teaches you how to overcome these barriers by practicing patience, keeping an open mind, and developing a keen understanding of cultural awareness.
5. Lesson Planning and Finding Appropriate Teaching Materials
Preparing engaging and successful lessons day in and day out can be the bane of any teacher’s existence, but don't crawl under your desk just yet! One of the most important things you learn in a TEFL course is how to develop lesson plans and where to find valuable teaching resources. With the right teacher training, you’ll hit the ground running with a fool-proof lesson planning system that ultimately makes your life as a teacher easier.
6. Disciplining Students and Managing a Classroom
Teaching isn't all fun and games, and at some point, you'll need to discipline students and ensure you're appropriately managing the class. But discipline can be tricky, and teachers must maintain a balance between being assertive and strict yet kind and approachable. A TEFL course teaches you discipline best practices as well as basic classroom rules you can utilize so you can effectively lead your students while maintaining that balance.
7. When A Student Asks A Question You Don't Know The Answer To
Learning English can be complicated, and foreign language learners will undoubtedly have many questions throughout their ESL journey. But as a native speaker, you enjoy the privilege of simply knowing when something is correct or incorrect, even if you don't know the why or how. See the potential for trouble?
A TEFL certificate provides you with a necessary recap of essential English grammar, rules, and terminology so you know how to answer any questions your students may have.
8. Motivating Your Students to Participate
It's no secret that students can quickly lose focus or motivation to participate, especially if the lesson is boring or not timed appropriately. TEFL teaches you how to create engaging lessons and activities that help students learn the lesson and get excited about the material. A TEFL course also shares helpful ways to keep your students on track with tried and true reward tactics.
Not only that, but teachers must learn effective time management when presenting their lessons and leading activities. Because even if the material is interesting, you'll lose students' focus if an activity is too long or risk students' comprehension if it's too short. A TEFL shows you how.
9. Managing A Large Class
In some countries, English teachers contend with large class sizes of up to 40 students or more! However, working with a large class can present unique challenges that may overwhelm a new teacher without proper TEFL training.
Noise control, keeping students focused, and creating activities that work with a large number of students are just some of the potential challenges that may arise. A reputable TEFL certification prepares aspiring ESL teachers for this possibility by teaching essential skills and tools so you can manage any classroom, big or small!
10. Having Access to Limited Teaching Resources and Materials
When you teach English abroad, you may be placed in a school that doesn't have the same resources you may have had at home. For example, not every school will have new technology or a supply closet with infinite office and craft supplies. A TEFL certificate provides tips for creating practical lessons and activities even with limited resources. As a TEFL-certified teacher, you'll know how to make do with only a little.
Benefits of Getting TEFL Certified
A TEFL certificate doesn’t only help you overcome the challenges of teaching English abroad!
The right TEFL course can also help you:
- Meet and make lifelong connections with fellow teachers
- Open the door to more exciting teaching opportunities abroad
- Increase your salary prospects
- Give your resume a competitive edge even after teaching English abroad
- Be the best teacher you can be for your students.
With the proper TEFL training under your belt, you walk away a stronger, more confident teacher better equipped to help students successfully learn the English language.
Learn More About CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certification
If you're ready to be the best teacher you can be, enrolling in a quality TEFL course is the first step. It's an essential requirement for most TEFL jobs and a must for learning the ins and outs of teaching English as a foreign language. It's especially beneficial for those who wish to teach English without a degree or who lack professional teaching experience.
CIEE TEFL's 150-Hour TEFL course is a fantastic jumping-off point for your professional career. That’s because the CIEE TEFL 150-hour course features:
- Course material accredited by ACCET, a trustworthy third-party recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
- One-on-one feedback from a highly-qualified TEFL tutor.
- A mandatory 20-hour practicum providing hands-on experience in the classroom.
- Lifetime job search assistance.