Teaching English as a Second Language – What You Need to Know

English isn’t the most widely spoken language in the world – Mandarin Chinese takes the top spot – but it comes in at a close second. Wherever you go, someone will speak English, therefore, it is the best language to study if you want to teach overseas. However, it can be a tricky task teaching English to pupils who don’t have any English skills whatsoever. If you think it’s a good career opportunity, here are some useful tips.

Gain a Qualification

It is always better to have a qualification in your pocket if you want to teach English to foreign students. This makes it easier to find a suitable position overseas. In addition, you can also teach English over the internet, which is a useful side income when working in a full-time job.

There are several qualifications you can earn. A TEFL certificate is the standard qualification, and this will give you access to numerous positions around the world. Be aware that you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree before you can take your TEFL certification. The other option is to study for an M.Ed. in English as a Second Language. You can do this in your own time via an online college such as Merrimack College.

Develop a Suitable Teaching Style for Your Students

Teaching isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of patience and you can expect to experience a fair amount of frustration. The hardest part of teaching English as a second language is that you probably won’t be fluent in your students’ language. Therefore, it won’t be easy communicating with them.

Initially, your goal is to teach your students some basic vocabulary that they can build upon. One way to do this is via visual materials. Prepare picture cards of simple items, so your students can match words and pictures.

Once students have a basic vocabulary that includes food, drink, animals, places, etc., you can begin to work on tenses: past, present, and future.

Make use of technology, but don’t ignore the basics like flash cards and pictorial displays for the walls.

Teach at the Right Age Level

Your students could be anywhere in age from elementary level to mature students. Pitch your teaching style to suit their age. Make it fun for younger children and keep lessons relatively simple. Use things they can relate to, such as their favorite characters from movies and books.

Older kids need more of a challenge, but don’t make your lessons too dry and boring, or they will switch off and not learn anything.

Break up lessons into smaller chunks so students have time to assimilate new information. Test their language skills weekly, in a fun and non-stressful way. This lets you gauge how well they are picking up the new language, so you can pay extra attention to areas where students are finding it more difficult.

Lastly, pay close attention to the cultural differences in whatever country you are teaching. This will help up you form a better relationship with your TEFL students. After all, they need to be comfortable with you if they are to learn!

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