I know. It’s not a real job and most of those who are Teaching English are poorly qualified. I must confess I was one of those poorly qualified English Teachers. Although I do have a BA Hons in Creative and Professional Writing instead of doing a full-on 4 week TEFL or CELTA course. I choose to do a hands-on weekend TEFL course in Edinburgh, and then dive head-first into a teaching position in Beijing, without experience.
It’s hard to say in hindsight whether it would have been better for me to have learned my subject before leaving. But my baptism of fire did make me realize that however tough my experience, I still had a love for teaching. This is why my Chinese teachers were so unconcerned with my level or experience. Their tough philosophy was, ‘If really want to teach you will stay, and if you don’t you will leave.’ Now here I am two years later, with a year of in-between dealing with grief and life issues, starting my first 250 hr Advanced TEFL course.
Admittedly I went backwards, and of course it is important to understand all aspects of your own grammar just so you don’t get caught out by many a bright-eyed student who knows your language far better than you will. There are so many different courses to choose from and tbh in the beginning it shouldn’t matter too much as long as they are certified by a well-recognised English governing body. A more intense course like a CELTA can be taken after a years experience once you are sure this is for you. I learned heaps from my weekend TEFL course which was hands on but I learned unimaginable amounts by being told, ‘You have 17 classes this week. You start in twenty minutes.’ ‘And what about the training?’ ‘Just talk to them first.’ Gulp.
Panic stations. Internet to hands. I always need some kind of plan. Even engaging with students for ten minutes can be a struggle. I would say during my weaker moments I have leaned towards Linguahouse for a concrete lesson plan and also OnestopEnglish. Despite well-actioned lesson plans you will still need to judge the mood and character of the class and start with introductions and a warm-up game. Whether young or old teaching English can be more profound than teaching in a REAL SCHOOL back home, because you are also learning about a culture. You have to interact wth the whole class continuously, and in some countries they give you freedom to be more creative. Unlike the Teach to Test methods killing our students back home.