humanitarian organizations helped my family

Teaching English As A Second Language: Tips For Beginners

by Vicky Price

You have a passion for the English language and for helping people; as a result, you've recently begun researching opportunities to teach English as a second language abroad. You're excited about the idea of being able to travel the world and help people learn a new language, but at the same time, you're a little nervous because you've never formally taught English before. Fortunately, there are a few tips that will help get you off to the right start with your students, no matter what their age.

Get to Know Local Etiquette

First and foremost, take a crash course in the etiquette and customs of whichever destination you're assigned to. The last thing you want is to accidentally offend one of your students or a staff member at the school where you will be teaching. What is considered appropriate behavior in a United States classroom may be completely inappropriate or even vulgar in another part of the world. For example, did you know that in some areas of the world, giving a "thumbs up" is the equivalent of giving somebody the middle finger?

Always Explain Your Rationale

As a result of cultural differences, you should never expect your students to automatically understand your rationale or reasoning for approaching a lesson in a certain way. For example, while "fill-in-the-blank" sentence exercises are common in United States English classrooms, this might not be the case where you're teaching, so you'll need to be prepared to explain the reasoning behind your lessons to your students and how your plans are designed to help them master the language. This will help garner better participation from your students

Don't Get Discouraged Easily

If it seems like your students aren't interested or on-board with your lessons right off the bat, don't get discouraged too quickly. This is especially true if you notice that you're not getting a high level of participation from your students. In many countries, classroom participation isn't expected, and students are generally expected to sit quietly while the teacher talks. Therefore, it might take some time and patience on your part before your students will begin to show their investment in the class. However, since most of your students will likely be voluntarily taking your class as a means of expanding their job or career prospects, you can generally assume that they're all invested and interested, despite their actions or participation in the classroom.

Teaching English abroad can be a very rewarding experience for all involved.  There are many countries that have these programs. For example you can teach English in Nepal, Korea, and China. The biggest thing to remember is that your enthusiasm for humanitarian work and your love of the people will help you the most.