10 Teaching and Travel Hacks for TEFL Teachers
Becoming TEFL certified can open up a new adventure for you and allow you to live worldwide! If you’ve always dreamed of travelling and working simultaneously, teaching English might be the ticket to living out that dream. Starting in a new place and career can be an overwhelming process, and many things must be considered. That’s why we’ve prepared our 10 travel hacks for TEFL teachers abroad! These will help make the process easier and ensure you have the best time!
We are staying safe!
This is the most important thing for any traveller or TEFL teacher. You need to ensure you are safe and feel comfortable in your new host country. It can be a daunting thing to move away from your family and home comforts. It will probably be the best decision you’ve ever made but make sure it ends up being safe!
Do your research!
This is key. It would be best if you researched the place you will call your new home to know what to expect. Of course, you are unlikely to be heading off to a dangerous country, but there may be specific neighbourhoods in the city where it is not advisable to live or walk around. Make sure you know this and choose your accommodation accordingly! Cheaper is not always better! You should also research any cultural or political issues to ensure you are heading in learning how to avoid any faux pas or embarrassing moments!
Let someone know where you are
This goes for all travellers anytime, especially if you are travelling or moving abroad alone. As soon as you know the address of where you’ll be staying, send it on to a family member or close friend. Also, give them your new local number if you get a new sim card and the name of the school you’ll be teaching at. Once you make some friends, swapping emergency contact numbers is also a good idea. You likely won’t need to use any of them, but it’s always good to be prepared! If you travel around, pass on your accommodation details, so someone knows where you are at all times.
Making the most out of your experience
Teaching abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and may be the best experience! Whether you’re planning on just taking a year out or living abroad more permanently, it’s important to throw yourself into the adventure! Here are some things you can do to live your best life while teaching TEFL!
Explore on weekends and holidays.
Get to know the country you’ve chosen to live in by using your free time well. You’ll likely get two days off a week, and bank holidays, so it’s a good idea to head out and explore other cities and local points of interest! Your new colleagues will likely want to do the same, so get together and go on an adventure! If you only stay a year in the country, ensure you’ve seen all you can!
Learn some local lingo.
Of course, you will primarily use English in your workplace and with your students, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to learn the local language too. Take some time before you start learning some of the wording of the country you will be living in. Even if English is widely spoken, locals will still appreciate that you are making an effort. In most cases, learning the language will help you a lot. Once you arrive, you can also take lessons – this is an excellent way to learn and meet new people who are also new to the area.
Throw yourself into the experience.
You’ll need to make some great friends to have a great year! These might be your TEFL colleagues or locals. Either way, when you arrive, it’s essential to be open to meeting new people and getting to know people. If you are invited out after work, then go! Depending on where you live, there may also be many meet-up events organised for ex-pats and locals – go to the ones that pique your interest, and you’ll meet many people with the same interests as you!
Teaching your classes
Being nervous about your first class in a new school is normal, even if you are an experienced teacher! The critical thing to remember is that the first class is always the most nerve-wracking, and things will feel more natural after you settle in. You’ll feel much more confident about delivering your courses in no time!
Get to know your students.
If you have several classes, you will likely have a lot of students. It can be challenging to remember all of their names and interests, but you should try to get to know each. This will improve your rapport with your learners, making them feel more welcome in the classroom. You can even make some notes on your register about students’ interests or hobbies.
Work out how to plan efficiently.
No matter what type of lessons you are teaching and where this is one of the most valuable tips for TEFL teachers. Of course, it’s essential to plan your classes so that you are prepared and your students will get the most out of them. However, this doesn’t mean you should be up all night planning or spending all your Saturdays writing 10-page lesson plans. Some schools may want you to provide written procedures, and some don’t.
What’s important is that you can plan in a shorter amount of time. This way, you won’t feel burnt out from all the extra preparation. Try to plan at any time you are given from the school, and make shorter, more concise plans if possible. This will become easier as you get more and more experience as you won’t need to prepare as much. As your TEFL toolbox of activities expands, the less time you’ll spend on writing everything down “just in case”!
Save resources available to you.
This will also help you save time in planning your lessons. Save any activities and materials you create for future use. Bookmark any favourite lesson plan sites you use regularly. You will probably teach similar lessons year after year (e.g. Christmas-themed lessons!), so make a folder on your computer or in your classroom so you can access these quickly late, and you won’t have to spend time finding resources all over again. It’s better to save things electronically rather than paper copies. If you move cities or countries, you don’t want to cart a physical folder around!
Packing to move abroad
It can be overwhelming moving abroad for the first time, and one thing that stresses us out the most is packing! You must pack up your life, but you can’t take everything with you! Use this time to sort out anything you don’t need or use. If you haven’t used it in two years, it should be thrown away, sold or donated to charity!
Don’t bring the kitchen sink.
Although you must pack more than you would on a two-week holiday, don’t go too mad! Remember you must carry all of this on your travels, and if you’re not staying somewhere close to the airport, it can be a lot to manage. Learn the importance of necessary items for your wardrobe – a good pair of trainers, a jacket that goes with everything, reliable jeans and some t-shirts or shirts you can pair with anything!
It’s also good to research the climate of your destination. If you’re going to live in a tropical environment for a year, you may not need to take your five jackets! Or if you’re going somewhere that’s primarily cold throughout the year, packing all those bikinis isn’t a good use of space! Also, bear in mind that if you’re living in or near a major city, you will most likely be able to buy anything extra. Although if you’re heading somewhere like Japan and you’re 6ft 4…then shopping will be more difficult! Think of these things as you pack!
Have your documents ready!
Our final travel hack, this is crucial and should be on your list when preparing to move abroad! Ensure you have your documents in order and are up to date. Depending on where you are moving to, ensure you have the proper documents you need for any visa or residency documentation you’ll need to process when you arrive. A good tip is to take several photocopies of these (passport, driving licence etc.) as they are often required, and it can be stressful trying to do this when you first get to your new host country!
Moving abroad to teach TEFL will be an enriching experience, leaving you with some fantastic memories for the rest of your life. Whether you want to drive for just a year to get away for a short time or whether you’re looking to stay long-term, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Make sure you follow all the teaching and travel hacks to ensure a smoother experience, and remember to jump right in with both feet and have the time of your life!