What is Teaching
English Abroad like?
What is a
typical EFL teacher's day like?
Teaching is enjoyable work if you enjoy people. Like
any occupation, each specific job can vary greatly. It
depends on what type of school or company you work for,
the country you work in, and the ages of your students.
Adults or Children
teaching of adults is often less-structured than the
teaching of children. They are, usually, more
motivated, have a reason for taking the class, and
already have some English speaking skills. Kids, on the
other hand, are often in class because their parents
signed them up, have short attention spans, and need a
lot of activity to keep them interested.
teachers tend to teach children's classes, though this
is not always true. Everyone has their own preference -
some people love to teach kids and even kindergarten -
some prefer to teach only adults. Perhaps because of
the more structured lessons, new teachers are more
frequently assigned to the very specific routines that
younger learners need. That's not to say that teaching
kids is easier - I think it is more difficult!
Language schools often hire EFL teachers for kids
classes. These classes are usually after school and
will involve teaching the basics in a very
interactive format. Note the stress! Kids need
action! This is not a lecture class. Songs, games,
activities and imitation drills will provide the basis
for these classes.
Sometimes these classes will be
30-45 minutes instead of 50-90 minutes more typical of
adult classes. Often, you would teach four to six of
these classes in one day, with from six to fifteen kids
in each class.
These are sometimes called "conversation" classes where
adults come to sharpen their already existing basic
English skills. While this sounds like a "chat" class -
you would still be expected to provide instruction, some
activities, some error correction - and a lot of
These classes can vary, but typically
are 50-60 minutes - and you might teach three to six of
them in one day. Sometimes, due to adults' working
schedules, you might teach very early in the day, or
late in the day, and sometimes both!
Adults tend to be
easier to teach (IMO), but you can end up with some
difficult work schedules to accommodate your students.
Particularly if you already have a masters degree, you
might find yourself teaching at a university or
college. High status - maybe - but you might also find
yourself teaching 30-100 bored students who are required
to take the class. In my experience, a class of less
than 25 is hard to come by.
I once taught a reading
class with 100 students in it - and have heard from
another teacher who taught 150 students in one class.
Don't attempt this kind of teaching until you get a
little experience under your belt. Typically, you will
teach fewer classes per week, but you can see from the
numbers that preparation is critical - and any kind of
home work will lead to piles and piles of work - that
you will need to do at home.
Most classes will be 60 to
Middle and High School Students
These classes, tend to be middle of the road, lecture a
bit: language principles, grammar, pronunciation, etc.,
then an activity. Sometimes these too can be large
classes of students who may not be highly motivated. If
you are teaching at a public school, classes can be
quite large, in a private language school, classes will
Corporate and "Company" Classes
Some companies will hire you to improve their workers'
English skills. Classes will tend to be small, but
often at odd hours to work around your students' work
schedules. Student attendance may be erratic. I
personally enjoy these type of classes, but many
teachers don't, as students are often quite tired after
a hard day of work and just want to go home. I can't
blame them! These classes tend to focus on "Business
English" and the language of the workplace.
everything in between
Expect just about any combination of the above and you
will not be surprised!