Tips for Volunteering as an English Teacher Abroad

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By Robert Benjamin If you’re looking for an enriching, rewarding experience in a foreign country, teaching English is an excellent choice. It will allow you to improve your foreign language skills, build your resume, and provide an important service, all while getting to travel the world. Below are a few tips for volunteers teaching English in a foreign country: 1. Teach to your students’ specific needs Each student comes to English classes for a different reason. One of the first things any teacher should do with a new student is to figure out why the student is there. For example, if your student wants to be able to communicate with English-speaking customers at the cash register, you’ll know immediately that you can start with basic greetings and numbers in English! 2. Don’t expect too much Don’t set your expectations too high for yourself or for your students. It can take several years to become fluent in a foreign language, even when you are speaking it daily, and your students might only get to practice English a couple hours per week. So try to set reasonable goals for yourself and your students. 3. Teach to various learning styles Students learn in a variety of ways. Some learn best by listening, other by speaking, some by reading, and others by writing. Try to have your students do a little bit of each during every lesson, to see which method works the best for each student. 4. Speak their language While some students are skilled enough to benefit from a lesson taught entirely in English, many will require explanations in their native language. Not only will this be great practice for you to speak a foreign language, it will also allow your students to correct you or teach you some new phrases, which can really boost their confidence and lighten the mood. 5. Encourage your students Many adults are embarrassed to try to speak English and are afraid to make mistakes. However, if you encourage them to try, it’s rather likely that they will quickly learn to laugh at their mistakes and move past that stage of discomfort; a student’s ability to concentrate and learn will improve dramatically as soon as he or she stops worrying about making mistakes and starts feeling more confident outside his or her comfort zone.  

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