If you’re a foreign student in the UK and if you’re allowed to work part-time, then perhaps one of the best jobs to find would be as a foreign language teacher, tutor or translator. If your native tongue is not English, you hold a major advantage over the rest of the foreign student crowd because your versatility in and strong command over your mother tongue could easily get you a gig as a foreign language tutor or teacher. However, in order to make the most of your abilities and be the best teacher you can, there are a few other tools you must add to your arsenal. Your chances of success are boosted if you:
- Are fluent in English: No matter how good you are in the foreign language you’re going to teach, unless you’re fluent in English, you’re going to find it very hard to get through to your students. The people in your class are not going to be able to understand what you’re teaching them if you’re not able to express yourself properly in English, probably the only language that they know and understand. So before you take on a job that allows you to teach your mother tongue as a foreign language, brush up on your English skills.
- Have a natural flair for teaching: Fluency in the foreign language and English alone does not make you a good teacher; for this, you need to have the flair to deal with students and be able to get across to them effectively. You must have an air of authority around you, and even if you’re not an expert, you must be able to convincingly project yourself as one. Teaching is all about confidence and knowing how to impart knowledge, so if you’re a shy and reticent person, work hard at your social skills before accepting the job.
- Brush up on job specific skills before you start out: You may be only a student who’s working part-time, but in order to do justice to your job, you must have a plan according to which your teaching sessions must play out. If you have no experience in teaching your mother tongue, get help from various resources including books, tutorials and the Internet. Formulate lesson plans well ahead of class and rehearse them beforehand if you’re nervous or not sure of yourself. Be prepared to answer questions and doubts from your students without getting flustered, and also be ready to deviate from your plan once in a while and go extempore if the situation demands it.
- Are familiar with shortcuts: In every language, there are shortcuts that allow you to master it quicker and more effectively. If you’re not familiar with them in the language you’re teaching, find out using your research skills and pass them on to your students so that the whole exercise becomes easier and more interesting for them.
- Focus on what your students need: Some people in your class may want to learn how to speak your tongue while others will want to know how to write and read it as well. Find out what your students are hoping to gain from your class, and tailor your lessons accordingly. When you understand what your students need and want and are able to deliver it, you’re well on the way to becoming a good teacher.
This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online colleges. Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: carrie.oakley1983(AT)gmail(DOT)com.