Teach English Abroad: Tips and Resources

written by local expert Becky Rogers

Becky is an avid rock climber and outdoor enthusiast and is now living in France as an expat. When she is not writing about travel gear and various destinations she has visited during her travels, you can find her playing with her two dogs.

So, either you’ve just got your TEFL certificate and are looking for your first adventure or you’ve had your first or many and are craving your next one. Whatever your situation is, everybody could always do with some help and advice beforehand!

If you’re afraid that your first teaching experience will be terrifying or you’ve already had it, you’re not alone. Every new and even experienced teacher will need some support, and like most things in life, the best way to learn and develop is to have these difficult experiences in the first place.

Our job though, which we are sure you will be glad to hear, is to make those experiences slightly less terrifying than they could be. I just personally finished my TEFL degree and did a hands-on learning experience which changed my life which is why I want to share a few invaluable tips and resources for all you new TEFL teachers out there.

Tips for New TEFL Teachers

Preparation and Planning is Key

Preparation and planning are essential for teaching, not only for a lesson to run smoothly but also to prepare you for the unexpected or when things go wrong (which WILL happen, multiple times!). Even if you hate planning, it is really important that you do.

When making lesson plans, think of what resources will be available to you (i.e just a blackboard or a computer) and plan accordingly. If you don’t know, make a couple of rough plans for different scenarios. Once you have your structure and resources, it’s always handy (and potentially life-saving!) to plan your backup activities for extra time or a sudden change of plan.

Games are Always Winners

Games are amazing in all kinds of situations. Whether you have to change classrooms last minute, change your plans because the projector isn’t working or your kids have simply just switched off for the day, games can genuinely save your ass and bring a lesson back to life.

You’ll find that certain games are better with certain ages, so arm yourself with a couple of good’uns and you’ll be set for the year! Particular favorites are the fun and educational splat, pass the ball, bingo, what’s missing? and hot seat.

Editor’s Note: Curious About Teaching English Abroad? Find out about my TEFL experience with Premier TEFL


Songs are Our Memory’s Best Friend

Songs have a way of helping us remember things and who doesn’t love a good song? For children, and especially the younger ones, songs are a really important learning tool. Why? Because they are fun, they allow them to make noise and speak some English, and they really do help them to learn new words and remember them forever.

Whenever you can start or end your lessons with a song. You can even add in some dance moves to really get things going too!

Teaching Aids Can Be Invaluable

Remember when I said that kids can switch off? It will happen at some point and you need to be prepared. Whether they are just tired because your lesson is at the end of the day or they are restless because they are hot or hungry and can’t concentrate, teaching aids are essential to keep their focus and get them interested in what you’re saying.

It could be using something as simple as a softball to throw around the class whilst asking questions or using flashcards or videos to break up the lesson. Just make sure that, when you’re making full use of resources, they are relevant to the teaching and are capturing attention rather than distracting it. tefl-decorations

Reward, Reward, Reward

The best way to get your children to repeat good behaviour that you want in your classroom is to reward it. We all love attention and praise and recognition for when we’ve done something great, so make sure that your kids know they’ve done well as much as possible.

Using incentives like stickers or stamps, points, high fives or letting them pick the end of the day song can really help you to create a happy and productive work environment. Plus it models good behaviour, allows you to track their progress and the kids love it so it’s a win-win situation!

Don’t Panic and Always Have a Back-Up Plan

Probably one of THE most important lessons that you will learn whilst teaching is to stay calm. Even when things are going completely wrong and you feel like bursting into tears, it is really important that the children see you smiling and carrying on the lesson as best as you can. Not only will this keep the stress levels down in the classroom and keep the kids calm (because seriously kids do feed off your emotions), but it will also show them resilience and good coping mechanisms. When in doubt, always revert to your backup activities and games! lesson planning

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Resources for New TEFL Teachers

Premier TEFL

Whether you need help with getting a TEFL job or you are a new TEFL teacher and need ideas for activities and lesson support, Premier TEFL has you covered. Offering free comprehensive guides that you can download straight from their site, you’ll never need anything else.

TEFL Tunes

For some great songs that will help you teach certain grammatical concepts, TEFL Tunes is the ideal resource. These songs are perfect for children who are auditory learners and great fun for everyone, regardless of age and learning level, with songs for every theme and task. To access all resources that the site offers, a subscription is required.

Dream English

An alternative and free option for using some great songs is Dream English. Not only does the website provide songs and videos that the kids love, but it also has some cool flashcards, games and lesson plans that you can use. teaching-english

BBC Teaching English and Learning

The website, BBC Teaching English, offers a lot of resources, many that focus on teacher development and networking. When combined with BBC Learning, which has a variety of real videos that give children an insight into British culture and range of accents, you will be on your way to being one of the best TEFL teachers!

Essential Apps

Technology is such a big part of our lives now, why not utilise it and help the children learn? Two great apps to do this are:

  • Memrise – this is great for learning and remembering tough vocabulary words or grammatical concepts.
  • Class Dojo – this app will help you manage your classroom and have some fun. Who doesn’t want virtual points or a digital high-five?

Handy Videos

If you want to use videos in your lessons, make sure that they are relevant and suitable to the learning level of your class. Some of the best resources for videos are:

  • Disney’s Magic English – most kids (and adults!) love Disney, so using their videos are great learning tools. These videos are also specially designed to teach English as a foreign language so they are literally perfect.
  • Gogo’s Adventures with English – more great videos about a character who comes to Earth to learn English before going back home to teach his friends. Not only are they extremely relevant but they are also brilliant for the younger kids.
  • Sesame Street – literally a show that advocates learning through songs! Clips from this programme always go down a treat.
  • Clips from TV Programmes or Films – as well as some great resources that make specific educational videos, you can also use some clips from relevant films or children’s TV programmes.

So there we have it, your complete survival guide to teaching English abroad! Now all you new TEFL teachers can approach each lesson with confidence and if all goes awry, just play games! books for tefl

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