Have you got the Characteristics for TEFL?

Characteristics for TEFL

Think you’ve got the characteristics for TEFL teaching? You may have your TEFL certificate in hand, but do you really have the personality it takes to be successful?


If you peruse job sites, much like this one, you’ll find employers asking for teachers that are energetic, enthusiastic, love children, flexible…and the list goes on. Anyone traveling to a foreign country to teach English has to be somewhat energetic and flexible, right?


So what type of characteristics should TEFL teachers have?


4 Must Have Characteristics for TEFL Teaching


I’ve taught English for over 10 years in 5 different countries and have found that the TEFL teachers that do best are the ones that can master these 4 characteristics.


The first two go hand in hand, but I’m cutting them up into two categories because I believe there is a fundamental difference. If you disagree, tell me all about it in the comments below.


1. Energetic


If you want to teach English overseas, you are going to need to be the life of the party. In this case, the party is your classroom.


You’re going to need to be happy and full of energy for every class. This is easy, if you teach one class a day. It’s far more challenging four or five times a day for five days in a row.


Remember when you were in school? Who was your favorite teacher? Was it the one that sat at his or her desk and assigned you book work? Or was it that teacher that bounced all over the room and made the subject interesting and engaging?


Obviously we all have our down and out days, but for the sake of your students you will need to be “ON” for at least 90% of the time. In the long run it’s great for everyone. Your students are more involved in the lesson and everyone has fun learning.




2. Enthusiastic


This may be the most important of all the characteristics for TEFL teaching.


You need to love what you are doing, especially if your students are required to learn English as part of their curriculum. You can have all the energy in the world, but it won’t help you or them if you can’t sell it.


As a teacher, your job is to sell English. You need to convince your students that there is nothing better to be doing at this very moment other than speaking English with you. You need to sell your activities too! If your students don’t buy into it, they won’t get into it.


So you need to believe in your product. You need to be enthusiastic about teaching and make them just as enthusiastic about learning. Once you accomplish this, your students will gladly do any activity you present to them. AND THEY WILL LOVE IT.


3. Flexible


If you want to make it in the TEFL industry, this characteristic is a must.


Most of your language schools are going to target both children and adults. So you are more than likely going to have to teach both. I know what you’re thinking…these are two totally different teaching specialties.


You’re right! That’s why you were chosen. Because you’re so flexible.


Another aspect of the job that will require flexibility are the working hours. More often than not, no workday will be the same. One day you may work in the morning and the next you may work in the evening. Sometimes you may need to cover a class for a sick teacher.


Schedules in this industry are NEVER set in stone. So flexibility on your part is very important.




4. Cultural Awareness


You absolutely need this! You will be working and living in another country. It will be SOOOOOO hard not to compare everything you experience to how it is done back home. Just remember, if they were in your country, they would think your behavior was strange.


You need to remember that everyone is a product of their environment. If you would have been raised in the country you are teaching, your behavior would be the same as theirs. So you must accept these differences.


Learn the culture of the country where you are living. Successful TEFL teachers never fight the culture. Instead they embrace it and join in on the things they enjoy the most. You are doing this to have a life experience, don’t cloud it up with judgements.


Last Word


In my experience, teachers that showed these four characteristics for TEFL teaching had a much better experience than others. They tended to be liked more by teachers, students and staff. They had better experiences while living abroad. And most importantly, they made life long friendships with people all over the world.


If you have any ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *