My initial approach to teaching was not TEFL-friendly. I had assumed that a traditional approach – the teacher being the focal point and figure of authority who explained the entire lesson to the students in grave detail – would work, but I was terribly mistaken!  So here are five things I have learned, and I think you should know before starting this TEFL course.

1. The language learning classroom is unique

The TEFL teacher takes the role of a facilitator rather than a ‘dictator’. The lessons are student-centred, and the classroom is a judgement free zone where students have an opportunity to practice fluency of the language.

A TEFL trainee presents a class

2. Time management is key

This course, as the UCT website and ELC handbook will tell you, is intense! It is four weeks of sheer intensity, which is why time management is crucial. You should schedule time for lesson planning and completion of assignments. Things may easily get out of hand if you do not keep track of your time, which may leave you feeling overwhelmed.

3. A reflective teacher …

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience” - John Dewey

Being a reflective teacher is beneficial to your growth. You will be able to discover your strengths and weaknesses. By reflecting on your lessons, you will be able to recognize areas that need improvement, and better understand your learners and their abilities.

4. Organization is imperative

As students we tend to put things off till the last minute, but it is important to be organized and prepare as best you can. During the course I made To Do lists. These helped me prepare for my teaching practical’s because I was able to see what needed to be done for my lessons to run smoothly.

TEFL trainees participate in a class exercise

5. Find YOUR teaching persona

Throughout the course, I battled with this concept. It is important to remember that we are all unique, so be yourself while you are teaching. I learned that instead of trying to be like my peers or trainers, I needed to develop a teaching style that emphasized who I was and made me feel comfortable. At first, I mistakenly believed that being a good teacher meant being funny and always needing to crack jokes to keep students entertained. But all students want is to feel comfortable in the classroom and that environment comes when the teacher is being themselves.

With all of this in mind, I would like to stress that the course is intense. It is no walk in the park (as some may believe). However, you will get through it. It is a truly enlightening and insightful course! Just remember to manage your time and everything will work out fine.


By Amy Jacobs