Should College Students Teach EFL?

by Marina Salsbury

Teaching English has been and continues to be a popular choice to supplement income for college students studying or traveling abroad, but are college students ready to teach English, and do they even possess the necessary qualifications to take on teaching first-time English learners? The answer lies in knowing how well college courses and even prior secondary education have prepared them to master the English language, what formal training for teaching EFL they have received, their ability to handle the different levels of writing and comprehension their students present, and how dedicated they are to the challenge of teaching English as a foreign language.

Native-speaking college students with competent command of English can be qualified to teach EFL, especially if they've received some formal training in language education. Since in some places a college degree is not a requirement to teach EFL, college students can be ideal candidates, particularly if they are seeking educational experience before truly beginning teaching careers.

The bigger challenges for college students are additional requirements that often are included for the job: the teaching work load, which can be around 20 teaching hours a week, and the preparation needed for class to create engaging lessons and activities. If college students aren't ready to give up some of their leisure time, particularly while they're living in and learning about a new culture, then they are not ready to teach EFL. Teachers not only must have mastery of the English language, they also need to take the time to create lessons that challenge and engage students in their language acquisition, while improving their oral and written English skills. This requires a certain level of creativity and research to prepare lessons, and accordingly a serious time commitment.

Additionally, college students who teach EFL need to be experienced writers, not only adept at teaching students how to express themselves fully and correctly in written form, but also able to discern the differences in the capabilities and experiences of students when it comes to writing. An effective EFL teacher must be able to recognize good and bad writing and then address students' individual writing needs, providing them with the basic structure for good, coherent writing. College students who aim to teach EFL but aren't experienced writers will definitely have difficulties in running successful classes.

Simply put, not all college students are prepared to or capable of teaching EFL. However, native-speaking students who are truly proficient in the English language and who are mature and responsible can definitely teach EFL, even without formal teacher training or instructional experience. Commitment is most important, rather than the convenience of the job to traveling college students. If they can face the responsibility of correctly planning a class and manage their workload, they can be successful EFL teachers.


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