The realities of TEFL

The realities of TEFL

Diary submitted by Buki D. Madrid


TEFL Trainer: Expectations vs Realities

This study is going to discuss the expectations and realties of TEFL, along with the advantages that teachers can gain from undertaking a TEFL course.

The acronym TEFL stands for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ (the TEFL Trainer) course gives university students and graduates an opportunity to teach English in a foreign country to people of all ages. Overall my TEFL course in Madrid has been a very rewarding and exciting experience for me through my interactions with my students and the staff at the English Academy I have been able to learn about the different cultural norms and traditions of Spain. Moreover, the TEFL course has been pivotal to my growth and development as a teacher because I have learned to employ different methods and techniques in order to increase the effectiveness of my teaching. However, the beginning of my TEFL course was quite overwhelming, I had no prior experience to teaching and I struggled immensely but over time through practice and feedback from my peers I have been able to improve my teaching through various means. One of the greatest lessons that I learned from my internship is to be flexible, as an EFL teachers you must be able to adapt your lessons and tailor them to the needs of your student.

Expectation Vs Reality

Given the fact that I had no prior teaching experience, I did not know what to expect from the TEFL course. I had so many queries about lessons plans, how I was going to teach my students and what kind of teaching material I was required to use. However, much to my surprise and pleasure the structure of my lessons has been fairly straightforward. The teacher’s handle book has been very helpful because it contains guidelines and vital information about grammar and vocabulary and in times of confusions the booklet has also acted as a guide for my students and me.

Another advantage is the layout of my TEFL course for instance, the 150 hours of practical work encourages growth and progression, because the more teaching that you do the better you become. Thus demonstrating and proving the concept that practice does indeed make perfect. Furthermore, the six reflective diaries have helped me to reflect on my experience as an EFL teacher. The reflective diaries gave me opportunity to explore the different alternatives methods that I could have used to teach. The reflective diaries may seem quite daunting at first because of the amount of research you may have to undertake. However, these diaries gave me an insight into different teaching techniques and language theories which could be applied my teaching. The TEFL course also made me aware of the difficulties and challenges that non-speakers of English struggle with. I learned that communicating with students in their L1 language can have a positive impact on their learning although this is a rather contentious issue in the world of teaching. In my experience as an EFL teacher translating certain words and phrases in Spanish increased my student’s understanding which enabled further engagement and interaction.

Lastly, the bi weekly Spanish lessons made the assimilation process easier and improved my communicative abilities according to the likes of Abidin, Pour-Mohammadi, & Alzwari, Abidin, M “knowing language can help us to express our opinions, hopes, and even our dreams” (J. Z., Pour-Mohammadi, M. / & Alzwari, H. (2012).This is another vital lesson that I took away from my TEFL experience. Teaching English has made aware that language acquisition goes far beyond learning grammar lexis and syntax. Learning English for many of my students was opportunity for them to communicate and express themselves.

In conclusion, the TEFL trainer course has developed my skills as a teacher; I have become more confident in my ability to teach which has increased the effectiveness and quality of my lessons. In retrospective I could have improved my TEFL experience by researching different styles and methods of teaching. This is one of the great advantages that the TEFL course has to offer because through the process of trial and error I have learnt the importance of being concise and terse. Long explanations and examples can confusion and misunderstanding which is an issue that I often struggled with. In addition, another surprising aspect of the TEFL course is that it strengths your emotional intelligence as an EFL teacher you learn to have empathy and compassion for your students.



  • Abidin, Pour-Mohammadi, & Alzwari, Abidin, M  EFL students’ attitudes towards learning English language: The case of Libyan secondary school students. Asian Social Science, 8, 119–134. [Google Scholar], p. 119).

Expectations vs Realities of TEFL

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