Some of the challenges faced by TEFL teachers teaching while teaching English abroad.

English is progressively becoming a worldwide language. Whether you like it or not, somehow somewhere you will find yourself in a situation which requires to learn English as a foreign language in order to meet your life and career goals. When we jump in the practical world, elementary school English immediately zone you out of the frame. Since that old school learning was nowhere close to the language spoken by the natives. Thus, the work of TEFL teachers has gained worldwide prominence. 

When you chose to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) or a secondary language (ESL), you have to undergo some challenges and rewards hand in hand. A room full of multicultural people itself is enough to pop the fascination bubble of teaching. This course holistically develops both students and teachers in several ways.

A TEFL course gives a person all the skills needed to Teach English as a Foreign Language, but it does not always give you goosebumps, we are here to discuss various challenges that teachers at TEFL go through. We will try to address maximum challenges as well as tips to overcome them.

Course Material (Formal and Casual English) 

The core reason, this course is taken, is to learn English as a foreign language, not as a subject.  Sometimes selected course study itself becomes a challenge. Teachers at TEFL course must be capable enough to teach between the lines. So, that their students may be able to easily understand both the formal English taught by textbooks and casual talks by natives.

The English exercises that are gathered by the organization to teach are different from what we encounter on regular spontaneous interactions. The recorded lectures mainly focus on solving exercises rather supporting real-time conversations. For example, it gets hard for a non-native English speaker to communicate in a business meeting and a superstore owner who is a native in English by staying on the same page.

Because of all this, the biggest challenge for TEFL teachers is to make English flow in veins of students as a component of blood. So, that they may burn the communication bridges on daily basis interactions, within their country’s formal interaction and informal ones when they’re abroad. Teacher, as well as the course study, must focus on building more in-person conversations in order to cope with the challenges of both professional and non-formal interactions. 

Cultural and Linguistic Barrier

A TEFL course is designed to cut down cultural and linguistic barriers. English, as a global language, has extensively grown and we cannot deny its importance. To succeed or to get recognition on an international level, English needs to be adapted as a foreign or secondary language, if not as native. You cannot simply go a long way on your journey with your regional language.

TEFL abroad is a challenging thing to get your hands in. Sometimes, the cultural dominance is so much strong, that no matter how hard you try, it will never suffice. You cannot teach someone until they are ready to be taught! This is because People feel too comfortable in their national languages that they do not want to learn English. Especially, in the case of countries, who were governed under British rule before. They’ve got some serious animosity against English. A deputation in such places makes it a strenuous task to teach. First of all, they do not want to learn and if some of them manage to come out of their comfort zones, then a relatively bigger challenge appears in the form of dialect issue.

Their English & Your English & A Newly Sprouted English!

Before signing up the TEFL agreement, tell yourself multiple times that it won’t be a smooth road. In a class full of multi-linguistic students, there is a chance of you forgetting English yourself. Probably the accent and vocabulary to get to take there is way too heavy on their shoulders. On the other hand, they speak the English they learned in their schools and textbooks which isn’t understandable to most of the teachers at TEFL because they are natives. 

TEFL teachers must be qualified enough to understand the linguistic and professional requirements of those students who are appearing in this course.  Firstly, as a teacher, you’ve to make your accent, your deliverance speed and choice of words coherent enough for the students who are new to your language. Secondly, you must practice patience on regular basis to listen and understand the type of English that is coming for them. 

Your patience and excellence together will help in stabilizing their social appearance on the world’s forum. One thing to remember is that a TEFL course is meant to introduce students to English as a conceivable language, not as a native. 

Language Diversification

A common misconception about TEFL is learning Queen’s English or RP (Received Pronunciation), which is incorrect. This old notion must be abandoned now. TEFL certificate aims at teaching English as a foreign language. It could be American English, Australian English, Indian English and so on. This course, in fact, offers a diversified range of English. According to research, only 2% of the world’s population speaks RP. 

Amid this fact, teachers have to be well educated and open in TEFL classes to alleviate the dialect gap and let the learning be easier for students using the kind of language they need. According to difficulty level, Queen’s English is far harder to speak, listen and understand than American or Australian. It takes guts and experience for TEFL teachers to adapt the right kind of techniques that will help them to teach the learners the kind of language, they are likely to learn efficiently and in minuscule of time. 

Moreover, as the internet is becoming more and more common, the dictionary of English is growing too. TEFL teachers must have all the updated knowledge about the newly sprouted slangs, words and their pronunciation. So, that they won’t face any generational gap as they step into a class that is more updated in terms of the latest evolution in English.

You Need to Be A PRO of The Subject Matter

The teachers who themselves are not good at learning English are not a good fit for this profession. The most important thing in the TEFL course is that the teacher must be efficient and fluent in English and exemplify great background knowledge. They must have the potential to deal with every formal and informal scenario.  So that the graduates may become capable enough to use proper language and behavior on daily-basis situations that they will face after going abroad. The success of a TEFL teacher depends on his student’s progress in real-world interactions more than in class. That how they will linguistically connect with the people at schools, streets, workplaces, supermarkets, strangers in their good and bad moods, if your student is able to tackle the natives in English is where your success resides.  Mostly teachers of TEFL flounder here, it is highly possible that someone who is good at learning may not be good at delivering their skill. In the case of TEFL, teachers should have an excellent and strong grasp of English because they are preparing people for international interactions. A more mature and visionary staff is required to undertake this responsibility.

Psychological Grasp

There is a myth which says that there is no proper channel of learning language, the only way you can learn a language is by speaking it. One of the hardest tasks for the TEFL staff is to keep the class psychologically active throughout the session. Most students do not feel comfortable talking to their teachers especially when language is concerned. Because they feel that they will be humiliated or judged as slow learners. But when the environment is less conventional, their approach to learning changes. 

To create a friendlier environment, a teacher can come up with engaging quizzes and dialogues that connect the entire class with each other. Or you can relate real-life examples to refresh student’s brains and to shift their mental horizons from course study. Through these exercises, the student will learn and evaluate how to react in different situations in the real world.

It is often known that “learning is half of what teacher do and half of what teacher teach”. So, be active, gentle, engaging and entertaining in your class. Make yourself the soul that nourishes everyone just by being there.


Teaching is a rewarding and daunting profession at the same time. You see the results of your labor in front of your eyes every now and then. Sometimes you feel completely blue and about to give up. But wait! You chose this profession for a higher purpose. Don’t let anything detract you from polishing this society. 

The ultimate goal of writing this blog was to address the difficulties that are often overlooked while preparing teachers to meet the challenges of education in an updated global setting. Especially in dealing with language courses, teachers have to be well educated and mature to perform well.

Despite all these difficulties, nobody can stop the passionate teachers to adopt this career and to satisfy their wanderlust. If you are also one of them, explore some TEFL course options offered at TEFL Madrid Academy

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The key to getting an English teaching job is turnover and knowing the hiring seasons.

Off season Hiring: Jobs do open during the off season as not all schools fill every job and employees do not always stay for their full term.  Follow our professional advice regarding hiring seasons and the interview process and you will find opportunities.

Many jobs entail 10 to 12 month contracts. September, October are busy hiring periods with many contracts ending in July. January is a secondary season. Main period will be about 50-60% turnover. Secondary season about 25%.

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