Teaching Myths ‘Busted’ for EFL / ESL Novices

All professions, and teaching is no exception, have their associated myths. For instance, a common myth about the engineering profession is that engineers don’t care about social and political issues; they just want to build that dam, or bridge, or whatever – come hell or high water.

So, what should you, as a novice EFL teacher, be aware of as it concerns teaching myths? Here are three myths worth noting.

The first myth really worth ‘busting’ is the myth that you have to speak the language of the students that you are teaching in order to be a really effective EFL teacher. In fact, many employers prefer you to be able to speak only English; however, it is not a bad idea to be able to speak a few words of the language for the purpose of basic communication.

The myth that popular teachers are the best teachers is annoying, to say the least, for those other dedicated teachers who are not so ‘popular’. Unfortunately, a lot of employers like it when their teachers are ‘popular’ with the students. In my opinion, ‘popularity’ must be interpreted in the light of the objectives of the educational institution that you are working for. For example, if you are teaching on a summer school course, you will find that most of the students haven’t really come to learn English per se: they have come to have a great time while simultaneously communicating in English. To be ‘popular’ on such courses, you would be strongly advised to aim to be very sociable, entertaining, and light on the class work. Succinctly, if you want to be successful, i.e. ‘popular’ – adapt to the environment.

Finally, there is a really ridiculous myth that there is no such thing as un-teachable student. Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, you will occasionally come across students that just cannot be taught: it may be because they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); they may be of limited intelligence, or they may simply detest having to learn English. In such situations, you should bring the matter up with your director of studies: especially if the student is disrupting the lessons.

You will no doubt come across more teaching myths: ignore them, and don’t believe the myth that teaching inexperience is a bar to successful employment. There are many employers who are more than willing to hire novice EFL teachers: especially in overseas institutions.