What makes a great TEFL teacher?

Teaching English overseas could be the start of an amazing adventure around the world for those who are ready for a challenge. Many would-be TEFL teachers may be put off by niggling doubts; can I do this? Am I capable? The truth is, TEFL teaching needn’t be scary. When you jet off to teach English overseas, you’ll be starting out on a brand new journey that’s likely to be unlike anything you’ve experienced before. You’ll use skills you will have picked up throughout your life, and you’ll carry them forward with you into your future education and professional endeavours. Here are the skills that will make you an unbeatable TEFL teacher!


Be enthusiastic about what you’re doing.

Understand that the language you’re lucky enough to speak is an international tongue that unites and connects people; and by teaching English in overseas communities, you’re giving this gift to the students you teach! Speaking English opens up a huge new world of opportunity for your learners, so hold your head up high and throw yourself into planning some really engaging lessons.

i-to-i TEFL teacher with students in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Remember to be patient.

When you’re starting out in a new school, in a new community, in a brand new country, there are bound to be a number of culture points to get used to, so don’t work yourself up into a tizz the second your hot water doesn’t seem to work. Similarly, your students may need further support and a little more of your time to explain concepts and learning that you may take for granted; remember the language and lifestyle differences may form a barrier, but over time you can dismantle this with really rewarding results.

Use your creativity!

The TEFL classroom can bring out the Picasso in even the most ham-handed teacher, so don’t be afraid to crack out the felt tips! Visual aids such as photographs, pictures and flash cards make the learning process much smoother for learners of all ages, and creative time in the classroom can also be used as a way for the students to get creative and share information about them. Trust us, when you’re repeating your point again and again the hand-made aids will seem like lifesavers!

Open your eyes.

TEFL allows you the opportunity to get under the skin of some of the world’s most unique cultures; those that are markedly different to ours here in the West. While the culture shock can seem overwhelming at first, we believe the beauty of life comes from experiencing brand new things, so get stuck in! Make friends with your fellow teachers, share lunch with your students, explore the local area and learn some more about the context your students are learning in.

Statue at a temple in Thailand

Don’t lose your sense of fun!

Teaching young people will always be a good laugh, but delivering lessons to older learners can be really fun too. The fact is, sometimes your lesson plans might not work, sometimes your class might feel unruly, sometimes lesson plans may get changed around at the last minute. Just take a deep breath, crack a smile and have a laugh about it! Whilst teaching is a serious business, sharing this amazing learning experience with your students should be fun.

If you’re after a new adventure or a change in career then becoming a TEFL teacher could be for you! Check out our range of TEFL Courses here.