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Seven Toxic Habits That Can Ruin Your TEFL Career Before It Starts

habits can ruin your TEFL career

You may think of joining a TEFL career or teaching English abroad.

It is such an exciting career, but before you make up your mind or pack your bags, make sure you aren’t falling victim to the following seven toxic habits that can ruin your TEFL before it starts.

1. Overconfidence

Overconfidence can lead to underpreparedness.

Effective TEFL requires an understanding of language acquisition theory and practical teaching strategies. Thinking your native speaker status or your TEFL certificates qualify you enough can lead to disastrous first lessons and frustrated students.

Focusing on identifying and developing TEFL essential skills is very important to get started quickly in a TEFL career.

2. Lacking Cultural Sensitivity

Lacking cultural sensitivity can lead to losing student trust.

Each country and region has different cultural norms, values, and taboos. Going abroad with an ethnocentric attitude instead of an openness to understanding different perspectives can undermine the teacher-student relationship.

Get insight into your destination’s culture so you can avoid offending locals.  

3. Poor Time Management

Poor time management can lead to stress.

Juggling lesson planning, grading, administration, and personal life requires organization. Failing to budget your time realistically can leave you unprepared for classes, falling behind on tasks, and constantly playing catch-up.

Map out schedules and routines right away so things don’t spiral out of control. 

4. Unhealthy Habits

Unhealthy habits can take you down fast.

Between social activities, stress, and unfamiliar foods, TEFL life can quickly derail previously healthy lifestyles. Without discipline, teaching English abroad can devolve into late-night drinking, unhealthy eating, and a lack of exercise.

Don’t ruin yourself through neglect of wellness.

5. Insularity

Insularity hinders progress in professional growth.

Choosing to be isolated from others may refer to your narrow-minded or parochial outlook. Socializing with others, especially fellow teachers, is very important to thrive and grow.

Make an effort to form relationships and learn from expert teachers who understand students’ needs and challenges. Their insights can help you improve.

6. Burnout

Burnout can lead to personal and professional problems.

The stresses of TEFL can accelerate emotional and physical exhaustion. Before you know it, symptoms of burnout like cynicism, irritability, and depleted energy become your status quo.

Don’t let the job become unsustainable; monitor your mental health and have an exit strategy if you’re burning out. 

7. Perfectionism

Perfectionism paralyzes progress.

Obsessing over getting everything 100% right is unreasonable. Perfectionists are always afraid of making mistakes. This makes them avoid trying new teaching methods or reaching struggling students.

Strive for excellence, not perfection. Allow yourself to learn as you go rather than expecting immediate expert-level performance.

The TEFL teacher’s life is incredibly rewarding but also demanding. Avoid these all-too-common pitfalls through thorough preparation, cultural awareness, solid time management, and a commitment to healthy habits from day one.

With the right mindset and practices, you’ll set yourself up for success and the best growth strategy in English language teaching!

Thanks for reading

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