Teaching english as a foreign language in the XXI century: a new approach
Nowadays deciding to become a teacher of english as a foreign language (TEFL) has increasingly become a second career for professionals of a wide range of backgrounds. Being english the most popular language talked, taught and used in business and daily life all around the world, it is not uncommon to encounter that professionals from the administration to the engineering realms had become english teachers as a second job or a suitable and enjoyable career after retirement.
The attraction can be expanded to young professionals that encounter in teaching english abroad an opportunity to migrate and get experience abroad apart from their career field, a really good form to expand their horizons getting to experience new cultures that foreign societies have to offer.
Teaching english as a foreign language can happen in a english-spoken country or not and can be taught by natives or non-natives speakers of english with the necessary proficiency with the language in non-native english speaking languages, that last case being the more common denomination for a TEFL teacher. In either of the cases skills ranging from pedagogical to administrative, organizational and technological and a natural saviness for exploring new surroundings and meeting new people will definitely come in handy when embarking in this exciting career.
So much more than just knowing the language
Knowing the language is just not enough when you embark in the endeavour to become an english teacher as a foreign language. As with another teaching jobs, having important knowledge of pedagogic, organizational and administrative tools is a must as it is the development of a great degree of empathy and patience: you never know what kind of challenges you will encounter engaging with students of diverse backgrounds and cultures.
The interactions in a classroom are normally very influenced by these and is there where a teacher must be able to engage in those interactions with great degree of skill and make of them an opportunity to introduce new topics of conversation and input for the learning process. It is amazing how many histories and anecdotes from students and even yours can trigger an exchange that can be fulfilling for everyone in the classroom and beyond.
Then there is technology…as for the XXI century teaching experience is concerned, technology plays an important role as for the variety of resources that can be use now a days that were not available 20 or 50 years ago. Even 5 come to think of it…well, technology is there to put it at use in the best way possibly but that is just another tool for the teacher, that must be used wisely and accordingly.
Getting to know your surroundings is essential for the teaching experience
Normally when you are abroad teaching english as a foreign language the majority of your students will be from that same country if not all, hence, getting to know their culture and heritage as well as their traditions will become essential for the teaching experience. One can only recommend that you take the time to know your surroundings very well from the means of transport, traditional foods and places to eat as for tourism attractions; also engage with neighbors, other teachers, the baker, the kiosk owner, the landlord and so on as much as possibly: all those interactions will enhance the teaching experience creating great topics for conversation and subjects for assignments for the students.
Spain is a great country not just for the tourism attractions and the so many natural wonders you can find all over its geography. It is also the country of people with great cultural and historical heritage and very varied too. Madrid, its capital, is a place where all this things come together in a melting pot that can well serve you as inspiration for lesson´s topics as for activities to engage with your students. From museums galore, historical sites, variety of cultural activities from theater, zarzuela, tablaos and so on, Madrid offers its visitors for work or study reasons amazing ways to spend leisure time and to engage in educational activities.
But it also will become an important input on your personal development
Either as an retiree or a young professional expat or even a national, learning the tools of the trade, exchanging daily with people of different backgrounds and trying to get you surroundings the best you can are all elements that will cheap in on your personal and professional development. Nowadays with a globalised world and extensive use of the internet as a source of knowledge and guidance, the learning experience either for students and for teachers has been widely extrapolated from the classroom.
All the events of our daily life have become sources and opportunities to develop new skills, create awareness about important issues of the society we live in and eventually you end up adding this new knowledge in your classroom as in your life. The constant and disciplined use of your organizational skills will lead you to better compartmentalization of tasks and chores that in this modern life requires more and more of a better use of the time.
The stress levels on modern society have reached peak levels important research has proven, making the ability to empathize and demonstrate solidarity an important if not fundamental tool to overcome the pressures that we have to embrace in daily life. You´ll soon discover that the set of skill and values you develop in your job as a TEFL will be an important apport to your personal development, making the experience not just rewarding but educational and inspirational.
You are in charge when in the classroom: make the best of it
The reality in the classroom is that the students depend on you for guidance and leadership. It is up to you to steer the boat towards a rewarding experience for the whole group in terms of contents, discipline and stimulus. That entails great responsibility but also gives you the opportunity to develop a personal approach to the teaching experience.
The students rely on you heavily as for you are the main deliverer of knowledge and rules in that classroom. But also you become a role model, a figure to emulate. Maintaining a well mannered environment but not devoid of creativity and imagination to avoid boredom must present at first as a challenge, but you will soon find out how to use simple but effective resources as news outlets, books, short films, outdoor experiences and so on as useful sources of inspiration for classroom activities and assignments.
From then on, a little spark from you can trigger a creative environment that will soon entice students to active participate in the classroom development progress…soon will become a source of a regarding experience for everyone at the end of the day. Maintaining discipline can also be a challenge no matter the age of the students: no secret here that nowadays people tend to take their intelligente mobile devices everywhere and tend to look at them for social media actualizations all the time.
You have to creatively try to avoid such behaviours to be controlled in your classroom, after all, your main objective is achieve the learning goals set by the study plan and that requires total concentration from all during the limited time you spend at the classroom. For that encourage your students to consult different internet sources constantly after classes for assignment help and maybe create a facebook or instagram group of sorts for the class so it can be used during determined moments in the classroom. The possibilities are endless really…just be creative and inventive.
Being a TEFL teacher can be a very rewarding way to spend some time abroad as a student ou recent graduate or as a retiree from other backgrounds. Nowadays it is a career in high demand all around the world, in Madrid then there are plenty of demand for TEFL teachers. Acquiring a set of skill ranging from administrative to pedagogical, organizational and technological just to name a few will be necessary and not that challenging nowadays, specially for people with a college or university degree and all the resources available online and for free, but almost as important are other aspects necessary such as learning and practicing empathy, solidarity and responsibility.
At the end, part of the life of your students is in your hands while at your classroom because there you are a role model, they will tend to emulate you. Apart from that, this will certainly add important elements to your personal and professional development and definitely be a nice addition to your CV: at the end, in this globalized era, to master a language and the ability to transfer that knowledge, if such a language is english for example, the most used language in the world, is a well paid commodity and a wonderful way to meet new people, new cultures and to add to your growth as a human being and a member of our global village. Get ready for a wonderful and rewarding chapter of your life as a TEFL teacher in Spain.