You might not have this big of an audience, but you should start getting comfortable speaking in front of people. Preparing to start TEFL courses can be a very nerve wracking and exciting time! Although you are a bit anxious about the new challenge ahead of you, you also can’t stop dreaming about what the future with a TEFL training certificate looks like. Where will you live? Who will be your English students? What new cultural norms will you be learning? As thrilling and fun as it is, there are some last minute steps to make sure that you have everything lined up while preparing for TEFL classes. You will soon be an A+ student with certification in hand!
Here are eight last minute tips when preparing to start TEFL courses.
1. Organize your schedule.
Whether your TEFL course is one month or six months, you are going to need to plan out your schedule accordingly. Will you be dropping other things in life, such as school or a job, to focus solely on the course? Or will you have some leeway and just commit a few hours a week to your TEFL certification course? Either way, have an organized calendar set with dates and deadlines.
If you are planning on doing one of the intensive month long TEFL courses, you will need to focus fully on time management and stay organized. Know that you will likely be missing happy hours with friends and be spending your weekends studying or reviewing TEFL training materials. However, remember that it’s only a month of your life! Being social can come later when you celebrate your fancy new TEFL certificate.
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If you are taking the course over the period of a few months, try to set weekly goals. Give yourself a pat on the back during each little milestone. Although you have more wiggle room to have balance in life elsewhere, don’t let your TEFL certification course be left on the backburner to be forgotten. It’s an investment and commitment that you signed up for, and it should be a high priority so that you can get it completed and get to teaching!
2. Review grammar rules.
Wait, “teaching English means I need to teach grammar?” The scary seven letter word that all English speakers know that they know but also don’t know at the same time. Uhhhh…. Where do all the commas go? Is that sentence simple present or present continuous? Did she eat the pizza or did the pizza eat her? When it comes to grammar, most native English speakers know the rules, but have a harder time explaining and remembering every detail of grammar.
But fear not! That’s what TEFL courses are for. You will be learning how to teach English, so it’s a good idea to at least give it a quick review before you go into your TEFL training wide-eyed and nervous about grammar.
3. Look over pre-course materials.
Some TEFL training courses will offer material or guidelines for you to review before you start the class. Look over the materials so that you can become familiar with what you will be learning. Just like with grammar, it will give you a head start and help you feel confident that you are all prepped for your TEFL course.
Even if you don’t have materials to review, you can start preparing for TEFL courses by researching online. See if you can find practice tests. Read articles, books, blogs, watch youtube, and listen to podcasts. You can even ask siri to help you pronounce all words correctly. Everything is at your fingertips! By getting into the pre-TEFL mode of “I’m gonna kick serious English language booty,” you will be ready to take on the TEFL training course syllabus.
4. Check if you have the needed supplies.
You will likely need a laptop (unless your classroom supplies one), pens, notebooks, and a big cup of positivity and motivation. Other than that, ta-da! Your checklist is complete.
5. Practice public speaking.
Public speaking is really not that scary. Remember all of those classroom presentations based on a poem you wrote? It’s 100% nothing like that - it’s way better since you will be doing something that you are a pro at. However, it can be a bit nerve wracking, so get some prep in if you can.
Students will see right through a teacher that is intimidated by public speaking. Be confident; you are the pro native English speaker anyway. Practice projecting your voice, making eye contact, and just having fun. Even if you’re an introvert, you can fake it ‘til you make it! Now time to hop around town making speeches to strangers about why you want to become an ESL teacher abroad - well, maybe not that, but you get the idea.
6. Join online groups of likeminded TEFL-ees.
There are so many resources online to find information for, well, everything. That means that you can join groups to get tips on TEFL classes, read reviews on certain courses, check out any meetups, and maybe make a new TEFL homework buddy. Reading advice from “real” - hopefully - people who have gone through similar TEFL courses as you will be great for networking and seeking advice.
If you are taking your TEFL course in person, see if there are any pre-class meetups. This is your chance to get to know people who are looking to work in a similar field as you. They will be going through the course with you and y’all can help each other along the way. So build that support system; everyone who has gone through TEFL training courses has been in the exact same boat as you!
7. Get super excited because...
...you’re about to do TEFL training and get a certificate which can get you employment all around the globe! There are so many options of where to live and teach abroad post-course. Maybe you settle for one place or maybe you bounce around from country to country. The options are endless.
Going through your TEFL course will make it even more exciting as you will be working out future job prospects as well. You are joining a worldwide network of people as ambitious as you are to teach abroad. What is more exciting than that? So why not research countries where you could see yourself working and make your resume nice and spiffy.
Take a deep breathe. Don’t be overwhelmed by all of the advice that you read or hear. You know what you need to do and just go about it with a positive attitude. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. Having a TEFL certificate is important for those who want to teach abroad, but don’t let it intimidate you! Teaching is a special gift and the fact that you signed up for a TEFL training course proves that you are chasing your dreams. You should enjoy the TEFL course and know that if you are capable of time management, determined, and ready to rock it that you will do great.
[Watch this: Is a TEFL Certificate Worth it?]
A few more tips for those planning to take their TEFL training course abroad
First of all, congrats on getting another stamp on the passport! Gotta keep it colorful, as always. If you are planning to take your TEFL course abroad, you will need to do bit more prep before you set off. Make sure you tie up all loose ends at home and plan that going away party. Hopefully you have already sorted out your passport, visa, and flights.
If you are planning to go abroad to get your TEFL certification, are you planning to stay long term? If so, you will need to figure out how to extend your visa. English teaching jobs abroad will likely come quickly, but if you are floating between the TEFL course and job start date, make sure to have a back up plan on how to go about the visa process. Additionally, how will you budget and pay for your life abroad? You will need some extra cash if you are going to stay overseas for a whole. While you are TEFL-ing you likely won’t be working. So save up and have a backup plan for funds while abroad.
Before you head over you will need to communicate with your TEFL certification course contact and make sure you have completed everything on your to-do list. Do you have your accommodation? Have you checked out their currency? Have you sorted out your packing list? Did you buy a mini translator dictionary for whatever country you are jetting off to? Going abroad for a TEFL is great! Especially if it’s in the country where you wish to teach. Hello TEFL job market abroad!
You’re now all ready to start your TEFL course!
Now that you are all prepped with your last minute TEFL to-dos, get at it! Teaching English is more than just singing the ABCs and playing games. It could change a non-native English speakers life! Get TEFL certified and be ready to conquer a classroom of excited English language learning students. So, practice saying “you and me” and not “me and you.” Seriously, start your English-ing now—you’re bound to be the star student (and later teacher) in your TEFL training course.