People have all kinds of misconceptions all the time. For how long did we think that Earth was flat? Luckily, that one was debunked as soon as sailors started travelling around the world.
This modern era isn’t free of myths and misconceptions either. In fact, there are plenty of them that are related to English language, its learners and teachers.
Here’s some of the most common misconceptions about teaching English that we’ve encountered.
1 All students want to learn English.
This is a common misconception because it’s pretty easy to assume that everyone wants to know English as it is the global lingua franca. Although English is quite useful and maybe even necessary in the 21st century, not all students are happy about learning it.
No matter how much effort you put into making your lessons fun and dynamic, some children will still look like they’d rather be someplace else. Some of your adult students will refuse to do their homework, and be absent a lot (even when they’re physically in the classroom).
It’s not you. Simply put, some people will go to English courses not because they enjoy them, but because they need English for a purpose, or because they need to follow someone else’s decisions – either their parent or their boss.
But don’t be put off – for most people learning English is the passport to a better career, better education choices, or just being able to communicate with a wider range of people. At the end of the day, all your learners will be grateful that you have taught them well.
2 EFL Teachers need to speak their students’ native language.
You don’t need to speak Russian to get an EFL teaching job in Russia, or Thai to get a job in Thailand, or Italian to get a job in Italy.
The very fact you don’t need to know your students’ native language gives you an opportunity to work anywhere in the world.
There’s an approach in language teaching called the direct approach. It’s been around for a long time. There are methods that represent its improved versions today, but they are based on the key principle of this approach: to teach a target language, don’t use any other language in your classroom.
This approach is based on the belief that people can learn foreign languages the same way children learn how to speak they mother tongue. Naturally, without translations, using gestures, illustrations, context, without explicit grammatical explanations, and with lots of practice.
This method is what you’ll be taught on the CELTA.
This is why EFL teachers can work with anyone on the planet.
3 Teaching is easy!
People who claim this have clearly never taught a single lesson in their lives. They also say things like – well, it’s no big deal for you, you go in there and teach for an hour and that’s it!
That couldn’t be less true. That hour (or more!) you spend in the classroom requires lots of knowledge, enthusiasm and energy. An EFL teacher needs to be actively involved in almost every moment of the lesson, so no wonder we sometimes feel exhausted when we’re done for the day.
Not to mention the fact that every lesson needs to be carefully planned in advance in order to fulfil the goals you’ve set. It’s also time and energy-consuming, and only experience manages to save you some time after years of teaching.
4 If you’re an English mother tongue speaker, you can teach.
Speaking a language as your mother tongue doesn’t automatically make you a good teacher. It doesn’t even mean you’re necessarily proficient in that language. When we learn our mother tongue we don’t know anything about grammar – we just speak it! Most people have never heard of gerunds or conditionals, or the passive voice – yet we can all speak, read and write perfectly.
Good teachers don’t only need to possess great knowledge of English language, but they have also invested in their professional development and they haven’t stopped learning after they qualified. They know how to maintain discipline in the class, how to deal with different types of students, how to use different approaches in teaching, how children learn at a very young age, and so on.
You must confess that not every native speaker of English could say they know all of that.
5 You don’t need a qualification to teach English
Many online schools ask only native speakers to apply for teaching jobs, but we believe they are wrong to do it. Teaching English requires a particular skillset and special training. That is why we recommend the CELTA for anybody planning to start a career in teaching. At just 4 weeks usually, it’s a small investment in time and money that could make all the difference to how happy you will be in your career.
So, dear people who believe teaching is easy, please walk in our shoes for a mile and you’ll see… It’s far from easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding!