What TEFL Training Courses Don’t Teach You #3

They don’t teach you how to apply what you have just learned to your job search skills.

This is important. And the next post on this same topic is important. But only if you are looking for a job or are thinking of looking for a job teaching English abroad.

A man I was working with recently became upset over a conversation with a new employer. He was in the process of getting his visa paperwork set up, but had experienced delays in getting his health exam (required in many countries) completed.

When he contacted me she reported that his new employer was possibly going to fire him or at least cancel his new contract if he did not complete the health exam by the following Wednesday.

Wow. Big problem if you have quit your job and are packed and ready to head across the world.

Well . . . it didn’t quite sound right so when I checked with the employer – who was not a native speaker – the message was different. The message was “hurry up!”

How did this miscommunication happen?

Where did good communication break down and how might you avoid or solve such an event?

Where it broke down was that non-native speakers of English often don’t know how to express themselves strongly. How to press a point assertively and appropriately. They need to be taught such things (did they tell you that in TEFL Training?) and almost every experienced Business English trainer will have spent considerable time on exactly that topic.

Somewhere in the communication with the boss, the boss implied or somehow communicated more than what she intended. And the teacher-to-be took the English quite literally and seriously and assumed that he was about to be fired.

You can’t do that!

(take things too seriously) Do you see how easily this could have become a disaster to the new teacher? And even a major problem for the employer as they would have found themselves short a teacher come the new semester?

TED’s Tips™ #1: If you intend to be a language professional, you quite need to learn how to interpret what is said to you by non-native speaker supervisors and colleagues (and your EFL students) and to seek clarification if something doesn’t seem to make sense to you or seems to be an exaggerated or inappropriate response to a situation.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Check the suspect statement by repeating it back to the speaker and then rephrase it and ask if that is what they meant. If it is still confusing, ask again and rephrase again. YOU are the teacher and the communication may well need to be sorted out and you are the person with the skills (we all hope!) to figure it out. Consider it a challenge!

Don’t let these little things get in the way of your new life teaching English abroad. They are too easy to avoid.