A few things you'll hate about TEFL…

I have to be careful with this blog. Not only will colleagues and bosses read it, but potentially my current and future students. Bearing that in mind, everything I write about should be taken with a handful of salt. So here goes, some bitter truth about life as an ESL teacher.

If only that monk had been about here to take a better picture: Ankor Wat
Unsociable hours
Whether you’re working in Europe or Asia, working hours can be unsociable at times. This is especially true if you’re teaching kids and teenagers or business classes. Having worked from 3pm until 10pm for the last seven years over here in Seville, I’m used to it now. I actually don’t mind that much because I have the mornings free to write and go to the gym, but I hate missing Champion League games. Some teachers I know despise teaching so late, especially during the warm spring evenings when you could be sitting out having an ice cold beer by the river.

Photo by Juan ACP
The Students
If you’re entering the jolly world of TEFL, then be warned: students can be your best pals and your worst nightmares. In my ten years teaching, most of my students have been fun, hard working, and polite. Well, maybe not most, but quite a few. During the school year you normally get a few irritable teenagers whose parents just want them out the house for three-hours a week, or pedantic adults who have a low tolerance of ambiguity and want to know why for everything; “Because it just is,” will never suffice.
I’ve been guilty of not planning interesting enough classes, or not reading up about a particular grammar point and getting caught on the spot. Sometimes, those problematic students can become angels if you make the effort. But there are a few who are beyond your control.
Continue reading on the i-to-i TEFL blog… for my thoughts on Bloody Visa Runs, Job Insecurity, Low Pay, and Having to be a Foreigner…

6 thoughts on “A few things you'll hate about TEFL…

  1. Great blog post!

    Can relate to this 100%

    I'm currently working in Indonesia until September (one year contract) and know what it's like having unsociable work hours. At first I wasn't keen on the late hours, as I sometimes drifts back to fond memories of evenings in a pub garden by the beach or listening to an open mic night. However I have learnt to love the 3pm – 9pm work hours as it gives me time to sketch and read before heading to the school.

    So far the students I've had haven't been too bad, there was one student who really used to push me at the beginning of my contract, but now he's one of my favourite students. I teach a variety of classes, roughly 18-20 a week (although 4 of those classes I see 2/3 times a week) and it's just whizzing by… Not pleased about how fast it's going! I want time to slow down haha!

  2. Hey Squee,

    Nice name by the way. Thanks for writing…yeah I miss those summer nights in a pub garden, especially in Seville when the weather picks up…but I do love my free mornings too, not that I have many these days doing a DELTA.

    That has happened to me various times over the years; getting lumbered with a tricky students and turning out to be my favourite, or best; great satisfaction!

    Where about's in Indonesia are you? The students must be great fun over there?

    Good luck on your course


  3. I went into EFL, on retiring from IT, in order to travel. My students were, in the vast majority of cases wonderful (Mind you, I did teach only adults). I taught in several countries, including the UK – the travel part, I loved.

    But, after 8 years, I quit and returned to business, because (speaking as a business owner, of many years experience), I got sick & tired of the language schools – especially some of the management (DoS & Senior Teachers), who I would not employ to clean my toilet.

  4. Thanks for the comment Joanne. Yeah there are some dodgy language schools out there, thankfully mine is top notch. I have worked for a few dimwits over the years, but I guess that's the same in any industry. Anyway, thanks for writing.

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