My Top 5 Tips For New ESL English TEFL Teachers Overseas
what’s up everybody how you doing I know that it’s been a little while since I
posted a video I did post one a little while back about using a job search
method that I find useful so I’ve gotten a couple questions my ideas for videos
typically come from questions that I give my email or people on the site and
so in this video I want to discuss a little bit about things that I would
recommend a new teacher okay and this doesn’t even mean you’re brand new maybe
you have experience in your home country or maybe you’ve taught in another
country before but you’ll be new somewhere else or maybe it’s just food
for thought if you’ve been teaching for a long time so I’m going to turn this
off before it annoys me to death because it has a tendency to do that alright so
first thing I got five points you know I’m a list person I usually have like
nine reason why 90% of teachers made no money etc etc this list is five things
that I recommend for a new teacher okay number one stick up for yourself okay it
is very very common for new teachers to get thrown into a meat grinder and
here’s the scenario as I’ll describe it when I first got to Korea 2007 it was
June I remember I had a red-eye flight and I’ve been flying all night and I was
absolutely exhausted and when I got in they promised me that I have an apart
didn’t have it and they put me up in a hotel which was actually a love hotel or
motel you can google that if you’re interested if you don’t know what that
means but kinda like that anyway I’ll top it wasn’t very nice sleep and I
didn’t feel really well rested the next day so I got up I’m thinking hey all
right cool I’m in Korea everything’s great I’m going to go out and explore
sir Sir get a call from my boss right away hey would you mind coming into the
school and I’m like what what are you what do you need well you know um go
over books in and just talk a little bit it’d just be a few minutes and I’m like
okay cool so you know I went in and they try to
throw me into a class right away oh we’ve got 30 people waiting for you
bullshit that’s not not fair at all you know I’ve been flying all night you
know that I just came in you know I don’t have curriculum plan yet
no and at that time I was a younger more junior teacher and I didn’t want to say
no I felt guilty about saying no I thought that I would make a bad first
impression if I said no so I agreed to go into the classroom and I I believe it
was a mistake because when you go into the class you need to have your shit in
one sock like you need to be ready not only from a discipline standpoint but if
you go in hey I’m here and I haven’t done anything
and I don’t know the curriculum I don’t know what you guys are doing let’s I’ll
ask your name even though I’m not going to remember it because I didn’t sleep
last night right not fair should have stuck up for myself in fact as the
general point from from later forward I now ask will I have a settling-in period
of at least a couple days to learn the curriculum and everything before I’m
pushed into the classroom because a lot of these employers they look at it like
oh I’ve K for this asset I have to immediately use the asset every day that
you’re here you need to be generating revenue for me so I can line my pockets
right university systems and public schools they don’t generally do this as
much because there’s not the profit initiative they’ll be like oh yeah
you’ve got no time to check in or whatever another story showed up in
Saudi Arabia this was the absolute worst I had to fly through Qatar I got in
waylaid they lost my bag I did have any Saudi Riyals I didn’t have any money I
didn’t have shampoo so when I got in was a driver for the school really nice guy
but he didn’t know what the hell was going on so you know called the boss oh
don’t worry we’re going to send a driver in morning to pick you up and he’ll make
sure you have everything etc like great what time is he going to be there 9
o’clock ok fantastic 8 o’clock my phone starts ringing off
the hook hey I’m here where are you you’re supposed to already be outside
I’m like now 9 o’clock he’s like well you know the boss said 8 o’clock and I
don’t have time so let’s keep on so I just like threw on some clam diggers
shorts and like a t-shirt or whatever in mic we’re going to Bank right because
like I need cash at least to exchange or you know I need to go shopping whatever
oh yeah yeah yeah no problem no problem he ends up taking me to the school I’m
not kidding you it takes me to the school I didn’t know who was the school
I didn’t know where I was so I walk in all my colleagues are there in suits and
ties and I show up in a t-shirt and shorts look about your complete shithead
and they’re like oh no no it’s okay it’s okay don’t worry about it and yeah
they’re very friendly and very nice but I don’t like making that first
impression right I don’t like looking unprepared feeling unprepared and be
exhausted etc so I ended up just getting thrown thrown to the wolves basically I
ended up staying there all day because they were like oh we don’t have a right
for you and you know don’t worry we have food for you here and I’m like I want to
watch my day I’m here come on from that point forward I said I’ll always stick
up for myself and it’s hard guys when you’re suffering from jet lag
culture shock everything’s new you’re trying to be the nice guy you’re trying
to make the first correct first impression but stick to your guns here
and let them know don’t push you around okay it’s not fair it’s not fair to you
and it’s not fair for the Tommy that’s it for the class because if you don’t
come in and have your discipline in order from day one it says things off on
a really bad foot okay number two be prepared for someone to say you suck
okay I just got an email from a guy who was telling me he’s very upset because
his boss said that he sucks as a teacher I’ve been told I sucked like a million
times from you know people trying to make a profit off me they tried some
people unscrupulous people you will run into them
eventually in any job I don’t care if you’re working here in America or
whatever some people will try to beat you down make you feel inferior so you
feel like you’re really lucky to have a job where you get paid and you’re really
lucky to have air to breathe and all this screw those guys
everyone is a critic in the classroom right everybody I don’t say everybody
but there are a lot of people who are going to say oh he said you know
whatever have to tell me you ask me Ben how are you I’ll say I’m good yeah I
know it’s wrong and I should say I’m well but guess what I’m from Florida we
say I’m good okay so be prepared for people to kind of try to call you out
save yourself or whatever especially people in positions of authority who
want to beat you down or or whatever if you are a new first-year teacher and you
are used to people being very very nice and polite and everything else just be
regarded there’s going to be somebody who’s going to ruin your day a couple
times and it’s an unfortunate fact and a lot of nuances lost in language okay a
lot of people English is not the first language they’re going to say something
that they don’t mean okay I can tell you the million examples times in the class
where I comments left out loud because what the students said was something
very obscene but he didn’t mean it that way or or whatever so be prepared
somebody’s going to say you suck who cared if ten people out of 1,000 say you
suck are you going to pay no it’s just like- youtube comments who
cares love me okay number three be prepared to grow as a person okay be
ready to do something new experience new things do new things that make you happy
and you know be ready to take all that on board if if you have a bad experience
or you know run into something that works out less than favourably don’t let
it ruin your contract don’t let it ruin your year and just keep going forward
and build momentum and be aware that every year you’re going to get better at
teaching if you looked at my first if like I have video of myself my first
year teaching I’m sure I’d cringe but you know what everybody has to start
somewhere and this is the fact that it matter so don’t be too hard on yourself
be ready to grow and it’s going to happen at the time you’re going to get
into a groove you’re going to learn your style and you’re going to come better
and better at what you do okay number four I hate to say this but I have to accept that something bad is going to
happen at some point oh I have a package it wasn’t the package it was my friend
okay so accept it something bad is going to
happen and I hate to say that but it’s like no matter what no matter where you
are if I stay in my home country and I stay in this house you know forever
actually the other night I woke up in the middle and I and a flush my toilet
and got back in bed I kept hearing it filling I’m like why I’m taking so long
to fill so I got out of bed and when my foot hit the floor it was like splash
you know that was a bad experience bad things happened no matter where you are
so be prepared for things like that to happen but don’t let them define your
experience okay when I first got to China New Year’s the first time I went
in 2005 my part got stolen and I was pissed and very upset but you know what
some people would say oh damn China Chinese and then leave but I didn’t let
it define my experience I said you know what you shouldn’t have had it you know
so he’s in such an easy to still location you got to be more careful etc
and then you don’t didn’t really have that happen again
so be prepared for those things and you’re more vulnerable you’re going to
be more susceptible because you’re not in the environment that you used to be
prepared for and just say you know what look at it as a text right all right
wasn’t paying attention taught me a lesson whatever number five very are
very important you are the expert don’t ever forget this you’re being hired
because you are a proficient speaker of English okay for the majority of people
who are watching this you are a native speaker of the
if somebody tries to call you out just say hey yourself
you can politely say whatever you want back just remember you’ve been hire
because you are very good at speaking English as a matter of fact it’s
something that you and I can do without even thinking I’m doing it right now no
but if I’m if I’m speaking in another language like Spanish I probably have to
constantly be how did I conjugate this verb and then you know no ste home must
be hang on what is it right so don’t forget that you’re being hired because
you’re the expert and don’t let people come in and screw with you and
especially don’t listen to people who want to say oh you made a mistake here
here or here yeah great who cares let’s keep going if somebody
asks you a question and they will guaranteed to happen happens every time
and you don’t know the answer it’s going to happen say you know what it’s really
not important right now and it’s beyond what I’m trying to teach
in the class but if you write down on your question and submit it to me I will
make sure that I find you an answer before the next class most people are
too lazy they won’t write it down and then we’ll come see you after class they
just want to try to look cool for their friends or whatever so you know just be
prepared with that Hey yeah like in the other video you may have watched the
time when I got called out like what’s the difference between I like all fruit
but apples and I like all fruit accept apples well hell I don’t know I still
don’t know okay it’s not important it wasn’t important
for the lesson ounce teach you know it’s not important now if
somebody wants to get super nerdy about this and tell me what the differences in
comment section I’ll listen to you but it’s not life-changing and for the
majority of people they just need to learn basis and in structure basic
conversation scale fluency and that’s it so to summarize number one stick up for
yourself don’t let anybody throw you in this kind
of a meat grinder and definitely if you can if it’s important to you like it is
to me you try to negotiate it out front like hey guys you know I’m not trying to
get out of work but you’re not going to make me you know wake up with jet lag
and go in and stick me in a classroom are you you can ask that of fun number
two be prepared for somebody to say you suck it happens everyday who cares
Nora keep on moving number three grow as a person get better at what you do
recognize but now you’re not the best that you’re ever going to be it’s a
craft and you have to master your skill it takes time you’re not going to become
a perfect teacher after one TEFL class and you get your certificate yeah I’m
type of certified sorry guys you’re still not perfect I’m not perfect I
learned something new all the time number four I accept that something bad
will happen sorry factor life walking out to get the
mail the other day the bird shit happens accept it keep moving
number five you’re the expert don’t let anybody tell you differently and
recognize that you to do a certain job through that job to
the best of your ability onward and upward keep growing and I
hope that this helps have an awesome weekend


  1. Hey Ben! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I will begin my CELTA certification this November in Ecuador and your videos are very insightful. Kudos to you!

  2. Thanks a lot, Ben. I've been teaching ESL for 12 years in the States and I'd give most of that same advice to ANY teacher anywhere (even in US Public schools). Maybe if I'm lucky I'll run into you on some travels and I'll buy you a drink.

  3. Really cool video man! I've just finished my CELTA course and I'm trying to decide my next step. I'm very nervous but excited as well!

  4. Thank you for this video. Been spending most of my Saturday enjoying all the useful information. Keep it up. New sub here. πŸ™‚

  5. you're the man Ben, I am taking on such an adventure & your realness on this topic is helping me get in the right frame of mind

  6. If it helps, "I am good" is perfectly correct. In fact, it's more correct than "I am well" unless you mean you're healthy. Vindication. πŸ˜‰

  7. Hi Ben that is great advice, you do really need to believe in yourself. Thanks for the insightful video john.

  8. I honestly watched the first 7 minutes of this. It so true…i wish i would have seen this when I first started out.
    I'm going to sub.

  9. "Good" is an adjective and modifies a noun, "well" is an adverb and modifies a verb. MJ Bush is on top of things. Meanwhile, I thought the best response to, "You suck," is, "Who told you? I was trying to keep it a secret."

  10. Thanks heaps for this video!!! Heading off next week and pretty nervous. Not many videos around with tips so really appreciate this one πŸ™‚ thanks

  11. Ben, I have to say I always agree to disagree with you on certain things but I always take some gem of wisdom away from your videos… The first point is spot on, becoming your own advocate, and sticking up for yourself is definitely deserving of #1…after my first year now, here in Mexico, I learned after the first month to advocate fiercely for myself… Being prepared to be told you suck, not a thing I would recommend…don't put yourself in that position…try your best to always be prepared and have diversionary tactics in the least, to avoid making yourself look inadequate in class. I had my first evaluation from students and it was rock star and my employer told me he was "shocked" and I was like, did you expect or think that I would suck or be terrible at this…no, not this guy! Being prepared to grow as a person, PRICELESS! I'm growing by leaps and bounds and couldn't be more happier… I'm actually growing to love teaching and really getting into learning as much as I can about teaching, techniques and of course constantly focusing on grammar points I'm weak in. Being prepared for something bad to happen, not my shtick, but good advice, but having an advance plan of action when that happens is a good plan… Lastly, I can't agree with #5, this is the wrong attitude to have, esp if you know you haven't studied English grammar since high school and didn't major in English in college…BUT! You have millions of resources at your hand to get you moving in the right direction, toward becoming the expert, and being able to say that with certainty and pride…

  12. "I like all fruits but apples" and "I like all fruits except apples" – there is no difference. Of course there is a difference between "but" and "except", but in this case they are used identically. The difference lies in the individual words, but the sentences are identical in meaning and connotation. Now if you said "I like all fruits with the exception of apples." vs. "I like all fruits with the buttness of apples." that's a whole different story.

  13. "I've been told I suck like a million times"…. man I'm so glad I subbed. πŸ™‚ I've been fired three times in 9 years… and I'fve also been told I'm amazing and been offered promotions… Who cares anymore! Just do your thing..

  14. "Accept that something bad will happen at some point" doorbell rings Hahaha, that was creepy, like the grim reaper just showed up.

  15. whats the best companies to apply with to teach english? I am from the UK. Do you have an email account i can message you on also πŸ™‚

  16. My new fav channel I swear to you. This is exactly what I have been looking for. I’m leaving abroad in a few months, can you be my mentor?

  17. I m not native speaker but trying to get a job as an English teacher.i m 37 but jobless your videos are encouraging and very positive.thanks 4 videos

  18. I have teaching experience, credentials and an MA in education. However the site called Vietnam teaching jobs" says the retirement age in Vietnam is 60. I am 66. I can still teach just fine. So is this true? Is it impossible for me to find an english teaching job in Vietnam due to my age?

  19. I'm from Florida, too. Trying really hard to relocate and get overseas to Taiwan or Japan. Other than the picture on the resume, what is the main difference between a resume here and a resume for a first time ESL resume?

  20. Thinking about diving back into the international teaching game and came across this. This guy always has good content. My last stint was university teaching in China 2013. Since there were a number of "older" teachers asking about what to expect, I thought I would add what I can. I'm 52. I have a Masters Degree and a 200 hour TESOL cert. I completed through the University of San Diego. I got a job quickly at a good university, fun but boring area surrounded by nice people. And I saved a lot of money. When you're older you are more reliable! You're less likely to embarrass the school or get into sticky situations in your community. My school hired several teachers around my age and generally for the reasons I just described we did a better job and the school really wanted us to return. The schedule was really sweet and we were not overworked! Don't agree to long "office hours" because that is a racket for their staff to get free English lessons. Get a good TESOL cert. The online stuff is for kids. If you want to be taken seriously, it's worth the effort. If you take it seriously, work on the craft of it, and are prepared to put in the work, you should be fine! In fact, it could easily become the best decision you make.

  21. Pretty good stuff… but what if a teacher genuinely sucks?

    And if a student is genuinely interested I would never tell them their inquiry is "not important". Can't think of anything to kill intrinsic motivation more quickly.

  22. I really love your channel. I found it today, watched a few videos. It bothers me a little, which is a common theme among English teachers I’ve heard from online, that there seems to be no discussion of the value of the job in terms of positive impact on students, or the importance of serving them well beyond how it personally serves you. Which is not at all to say that trying to get the best pay you can is bad, or any of the other points about standing up for yourself, but most people I’ve met that really enjoy their jobs it’s in part because they find some importance in the impact of their work, teachers particularly. It makes a bad impression on me about English teachers that I’ve heard this discussed almost none.

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