What many TEFL employers really want
This comes from the free eBook How to Teach English Overseas. We’ll take a look at what employers are really looking for at language schools, most likely where you’ll find your first job as an English instructor.
These language schools are businesses. That’s the number one thing to know. They are businesses and the more students coming in the door and taking classes, then all the better it is for their business. Happy students talk to their friends and they come and sign up for classes with your school and things go even better. Happy parents talk to other parents (they’re paying for this after all). If they consistently sign up for the next class and taking your class and they finish that session and they sign up for the next one and then the next one and the next one, that’s even better. They don’t have to be in your classroom if they don’t enjoy it. They can be in another language school down the street. Or in another teacher’s class, even at your school.
Competition is just down the street. Right out the front door and down the street, so schools need to attend to enrollment to keep their business open. Lose the business and no one, including you, keeps their job. As a result of these demands on the success of the business, language schools look for teachers that can keep students coming back to their classrooms, again and again. That’s the bottom line.
Language schools want teachers that can keep students coming back to their classrooms. So… start to think back to your favorite teachers when you were in school and why were your favorites. Were they friendly? Possibly even charming in their own way? knowledgeable about their subject? You probably answered yes to these questions. So, yes, your school would like their next teacher (hopefully you) to be friendly, engaging, helpful, positive, AND they want you to encourage their students.
When a school interviews you, they are looking for someone who gives their students a positive experience and they also want someone who will be physically present on the job (not absent!) It’s just that simple.
Of course, the school would also like you to know something about English and how to teach it, but you already have a huge built-in knowledge of the English language, often much more than your boss. You have an excellent idea about what is right or wrong usage. Are people using grammar correctly? Sometimes you don’t know how to explain what’s wrong, even though you know what’s wrong when you hear it. Or what’s correct. But to explain it to somebody who doesn’t have good English skills is difficult. That’s what a TEFL certification course is for!
Teaching good pronunciation also takes some skill. Non-native speakers of English often don’t know what pronunciation is understandable or not. Thai students will say buh-na-NUHH because they stress the last syllable of a word. You might have to think about it to explain it to your student. These are the simple things non-native speakers regularly struggle with that will likely be no problem at all for you.
Know also that research indicates that about 80% of people fired from their jobs are fired because of personal issues – attendance and punctuality, not following through, and other similar issues. So if you are not a perfect teacher at first (you won’t be), make sure you follow through with these other issues.
You do still have a lot to learn about teaching English, but you now know the biggest issue is just being able to get along and being a good and decent person to be around.