EFL at a university

I worked at two private language schools when I first moved to China.  I enjoyed teaching young children because most of them were enthusiastic.  The pay was great, too.  The problem with private language schools is that you have to work evenings and weekends.  Plus, you don’t have much freedom in the classroom.  I much preferred my job at the university because I could design my own syllabus and have proper conversations with my students. Continue reading


EFL at a private language school

As an EFL teacher in China you can teach in the public sector (i.e. schools, colleges and universities) or in the private sector (i.e. training schools and international schools).  The public sector offers more job security and possibly more insurance.  But the private sector offers a higher salary.  If you’re only planning to stay in China for one year, it’s a good idea to work for a language training school.  That way, you can enjoy a good level of spending power as well as a manageable workload.  Before you sign a contract with a training school, though, read the four points below.  There are a few things you should be aware of. Continue reading

Tips for new EFL teachers

In this article I offer some advice for new EFL teachers.  I cover the following issues: (i) English names; (ii) contact information; (iii) rules and expectations; (iv) cultural information; (v) PowerPoint; (vi) homework; (vii) pronunciation; (viii) Teacher Talking Time; (ix) cross-curricular opportunities and (x) class management.  This article is mainly aimed at EFL teachers who work at a college or university, although some points may be relevant for language schools. Continue reading

EFL speaking activities (higher-level)

In this article I discuss several of my go-to speaking activities.  For each one, I include rules as well as step-by-step guides.  Don’t forget that some of these speaking activities are far-removed from students’ daily lives.  They are useful for encouraging imagination in the EFL classroom.  But I think students will quickly lose interest if you spend too long on issues that are not relevant to them. Continue reading

EFL games for children

I worked at a language training school when I first moved to China.  I taught children aged 5 – 11 and each class lasted for about an hour.  Our lessons followed a strict routine.  First, we set a short warm-up activity (e.g. a brainstorm).  Second, we quickly introduced the language point (i.e. either vocab or grammar).  Third, we played games with the students in order to reinforce the language point.  The language school I worked for was crazy about games.  Any game would do, so long as the children were having fun. Continue reading


As an EFL teacher, you must have both a BA/BSc (in any subject) and a TEFL/TESOL certificate of some kind.  It is possible to earn this certificate online or at a weekend short-course.  But neither of these options will give you enough hands-on experience (i.e. in a real classroom).  I think that the best option is to go back to university.  It is possible to study for an MA in TEFL/TESOL.  This option is, however, aimed at teachers who already have experience.  New teachers should consider the CELTA course, instead. Continue reading

An overview of TEFL

This article is aimed at new graduates who have decided to teach English overseas.  It’s a great decision: you can see the world and have lots of spending power.  You can also learn about the language and culture of another country.  In order to secure and settle into your first teaching job overseas, there are a few things you need in place. Continue reading