Are you from South Africa? Are you considering teaching English online? Then this is the perfect blog for you! Keep reading to find out all about Mihlali’s take on being an online TEFL teacher in South Africa…
Hi, I’m Mihlali! I am blessed to be able to work from home – a small village in South Africa. I have embraced being a global citizen without having to set foot on another continent! When I began working as a TEFL teacher online seven months ago, I was ecstatic to be able to pass the knowledge that I have onto others. I never anticipated that I would also become a student! Whilst working as an online English teacher, I have learned a variety of skills:
One of the skills that I have learned from my students is being able to adapt to new conditions. I’ve always been one for a great plan, as well as a back-up plan for the back-up plan! I have shown up to class many times – well prepared and ready to have fun and productive lessons. However, I have had to throw caution to the wind. My students have taught me that, regardless of the content being the same, each class is unique. When I started in this line of work, I expected each class to be uniform. I’m now well aware that different does not necessarily mean bad and that deviating from the “plan” opens one up to new possibilities.
In theory, I have always understood the concept of learners learning at different paces, but I have never had to deal with it myself. More often than not, my students grasp concepts quite easily, but it’s not always the case. In those moments, it’s important that I allow them to do things at their own pace, rather than rushing them through the exercises so that everyone completes it at the same time. Being patient and letting them go at their own pace also allows them to go through all three stages of the memory process (encoding, storing, retrieving) where not only are they able to receive the information, but they are able to file it and store it effectively in their long-term memory. Remembering information, after all, is an extremely key part of learning!
3. Having fun
Have I had some challenging days with my students? Of course, but they have taught me how to smile – all the time! There’s honestly nothing more rewarding than seeing how happy and excited a student is to be in class. I’ve learned not to take myself too seriously as I’ve had to be quite the clown at times, all in the name of getting them to crack a smile. Once we are smiling, our relationship transcends the “traditional” teacher/student relationship. I like to think that we are “friends exchanging language information”. One of the best things that to get my students going are tongue twisters! We thoroughly enjoy laughing with one another and sharing our desperate attempts of getting them correctly. Being able to be in a job where I smile and laugh daily means I am also able to feel more positive outside of my work, which is a real blessing.
4. Cultural Exchange
I’ve had the pleasure of having a cultural exchange with my students, without having to leave the comfort of my own home. It’s always lovely to hear about the variety of holidays and festivals that are celebrated by my students. Not only have they shared their traditions and beliefs, they’ve also opened up to me about their everyday activities, hobbies, dreams and aspirations. It keeps every day interesting and I am expanding my knowledge, while encouraging them to expand theirs as well. It’s extremely gratifying to know that I have impacted their lives, even in the slightest way, and to be able to find out more about the world!
Last but certainly not least, my students have taught me to love and appreciate each individual for who and what they are, not who I would like them to be. Each student has a trait that makes them special in their own way and this should be celebrated and communicated. Not only have they taught me how to appreciate individuality more, they have also helped me find my way back to my true love – the English language.
Feeling inspired and want to get started as an online TEFL teacher in South Africa? All you need is a TEFL course! Head to our TEFL courses page to find out which one is your perfect match.
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