Beginnings are hard, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Having zero experience may make you feel like you don’t stand a chance, but it’s not true. Your personality, knowledge, and enthusiasm can easily make up for the lack of experience.
Don’t let the fact that you’re a beginner scare you. Every teacher has been there at some point, and that’s exactly what should motivate you to try.
If you’re thinking about starting a career in EFL teaching, you should know a wonderful world is waiting ahead. It’s not easy to find a more creative and dynamic job. You just need to make a plan and not give up if you face any obstacles.
Here are some tips to guide you through your very first moments as an EFL teacher.
STEP 1: Test Your Level
Before you get into teaching, you should know your exact level. Your diploma can say a lot about it, but practice can be different from theory.
How well do you speak English? How well can you explain certain grammar units or teach different vocabulary? Have an experienced colleague test you and give you advice on what you should improve. Your level should be high enough for you to be capable of explaining even the most complicated things in a simple way.
STEP 2: Decide Where and How You Want to Teach
Where do you see yourself as a teacher? There are multiple possibilities when it comes to EFL teaching.
You can stay in your hometown and work in a public school or a private language centre. You can be a private tutor and have your students come to you for a lesson. You can even work remotely and teach English online! You can work with children or with adults. Or both! There are also English summer camps. You can travel elsewhere and teach English to people who don’t speak your language. That would be a great experience as you’d have to learn different methods of teaching.
STEP 3: Create a Resume and a Portfolio
If you want to get in touch with potential employers, you should have a resume to start with. Don’t just write a plain resume with the basic information—make it reflect your personality and your teaching style. Let it show who you want to be as a teacher.
An original resume will certainly attract more attention and the odds of getting a job will be in your favour. Your resume should be accompanied with a nice portfolio. Maybe you’ve got some college projects you’re proud of, published articles, blogs, worksheets you’ve created, anything will do. Anything that shows your creative side and your devotion to this career.
STEP 4: Write a Short Bio/Make a Video
Some employers may ask you to send them a short bio or to record a video where you’ll tell them something about yourself. Prepare this in advance. This way you’ll have more time to think about it and do it right, instead of being in a hurry and trying to meet a deadline.
Whether you’re doing a video or writing about yourself, focus on what kind of impression you want to make. What do you want your employers to know about you? And your students? This is a great way to market yourself and convince an employer that you are the best fit for their school or organization.
STEP 5: Teach Private Lessons
Some employers won’t require much experience, but it won’t hurt to have some. Private lessons are the best way to start. For many of us, the first students were children of our parents’ friends, our neighbours, friends from university..... People who are easy to reach and who already know you and trust you. What they typically need is a bit of help with exam preparation. It’s fun to work with them, and you get the chance to try out different approaches, materials, activities, and being an authority as well.
If you’re concerned about whether you should charge these lessons, talk to your more experienced colleagues. It’s up to you if you will teach them for free, give them a lower price or not—you shouldn’t feel the need to underestimate your knowledge and your time just because you know each other.
STEP 6: Try Different Approaches
Once you have aCELTA, you'll know all about different methods and approaches in language teaching. Direct approach, total physical response, community language learning, grammar-translation method... And many more.
Whether or not you’ve heard of them, they can be quite helpful. Before you start teaching, do more research on these approaches and think about which one would be the best fit for your teaching style. Of course, you’ll need to adapt your approach to your students’ needs and the goal you want to reach, but knowing these methods well can help a lot. Your lessons will be more efficient, dynamic, and flexible.
STEP 7: Make a Material Collection
We don’t suggest you become a Pinterest addict, but this website can be pretty useful for teachers! Of course, there are many more where you can find great ideas for classroom activities, games and worksheets, all printable and ready to use. Go through these websites and download the materials you consider interesting—start making your own collection.
Besides this, find a user-friendly programme that you can use to create your own materials. Be imaginative and try to remember all the activities you loved while you were at school, while your memory is still fresh. This way your collection will be unique!
STEP 8: Send out Your Resume
No job will just fall into your lap. Even if a school isn’t hiring at the moment, that shouldn’t stop you from sending your resume. They may keep it in their archive and contact you when they need new teachers. All the previous steps were a preparation for this last one, the most important one: take initiative! Start sending out your resume and contacting employers. Let them know you exist and you’re ready to teach. It doesn’t cost a thing to send out a few e-mails a day, and you never know if one of those will be your lucky one.