One of the biggest challenges for teachers teaching English as a foreign language for the first time is adapting to the culture of the country they’re teaching in. TEFL teachers often want to avoid a culture clash as much as possible. Luckily there are ways that you can do to avoid a classroom disaster.
So if you’ve just finished getting certified for TEFL and have just arrived in a foreign country to teach English, here are 5 things beginning TEFL teachers should remember.
- Dress appropriately. If you’re teaching English in Thailand or in any other foreign country, it is important that you always dress appropriately. While it is okay for teachers to wear jeans and sneakers in the US, in most parts of the world, teachers need to dress appropriately and neatly because appearance always counts. In Korea, black is a good color for teachers as it gives an air of authority. While in other countries like Morocco, female teachers are usually discouraged from wearing pants, short skirts and sleeveless blouses.
- Act accordingly. In many countries around the world, teachers are always expected to act formal and responsibly. Students don’t like it when their teachers act in undignified ways and undermine their own authority.
- Expect unresponsiveness during the first weeks. If you’re used to classes with engaging and participating students from where you’re from, you may not find that in the country you will be teaching in. Don’t be discouraged if your students are unresponsive during your first week as a TEFL teacher. They may be used to just listening rather than engaging and it will be your challenge to make them open up to you in the weeks to come.
- Don’t choose sensitive topics. You should always be aware of which topics are sensitive to the students and the culture itself because you don’t want to offend your students by choosing a topic that they find offensive or is taboo in their culture.
- Just relax. Despite all the challenges you may face, all you need is confidence, a sound mind and a little bit of sensitivity.