Should Every TEFL Teacher be a Language Student?

TEFL Teachers as Language Students.JPG

Does it strike you as strange that as language teachers, we teach something that many of us have never done? I’m talking about learning second language to a high level.

For those of us that have learned or are learning a language to a reasonable level, we can empathise with our students and help them to a greater degree.

Many schools give language learning support to their teachers, with a free lesson or two a week, but that’s really not enough. To reach C1 level (or even B2) on the Common European Framework, it's going to take investing some of your professional development time, for quite a while.

For those of us that haven’t started, is it worth it?

The Benefits of Being a Language Student

For Teaching:

  • You have more empathy with students – you know what they’re going through, the long (and let’s face it, mostly boring) process of learning.

  • You have an improved practical knowledge of grammar and pronunciation.

  • You have another perspective to gauge your activities and lessons. Often you can discard low-worth activities because you know from your experience that they’re a waste of time.

  • I’ve found that older students actually give you more respect if they know that you speak another language.

  • You can communicate with students’ parents much more easily. Which may not sound like much, but it can really prove useful.

For Yourself:

If you’re teaching in the same country as the language you’re learning:

  • You get a far richer experience of living abroad, by interacting on a deeper level.

  • Plus, it’s just cool to speak another language!

So if you haven’t already, give some thought to starting to learn (or re-starting!).

Good luck and good teaching.