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Dear New ESL Teacher

By Erika Ueda

Copyright 2018 Erika Ueda

All rights reserved.

Distributed by Smashwords

Cover design: Nancy Blair

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Table of Contents


The Best Teacher


Be prepared!

Aim for perfection, but…

Give grace

Where to teach

Non-native speakers of English

Too old? Never!

Say "I don't know"

Be on time

Smile and laugh!

You won't be liked

In closing


Who is this book for?

Let me begin by clarifying whom this book is intended for. This book is for new ESL and EFL teachers. The title of the book mentions only ESL, but I did so only for the purpose of keeping the title from becoming too long. Whether you are teaching English to students where English is the dominant language used or whether it’s not used at all does not matter. I wrote for new teachers teaching English as a second or foreign language.

However, I didn’t write for all new ESL/EFL teachers. There are various routes to starting a career in this field. Some enter this world after majoring in TESOL at university and earning a degree or degrees. This book is not written with such teachers in mind. Rather, it’s written for those with limited formal education in the field, those who are stepping into this field after earning their basic TESOL certification (e.g., CELTA). If that’s you, this book is for you.

What will you find in this book?

This is not a how-to-teach book. You will not find ideas for lessons or activities, sample lesson plans or worksheets, tips on how to manage a class, build rapport with students, evaluate students, help struggling students, or deal with demanding students. None of that.

This book is instead a book of encouragement and perhaps what you would call advice. What I write comes from my mind and heart based on my own experiences, and because of that, I don’t claim to be “correct” (certainly, there will be those who will disagree with what I wrote) or that the points I make are substantiated with scientific evidence. Since I’ve always worked at a language school, my comments can be best understood in such a context. However, regardless of where you work, I believe that there will be some aspect of what I say that will be pertinent to you. It’s my prayer that this book can bring you encouragement and uplift you as you embark on your new journey.

Who am I?

I was once in the same position as you. After leaving my first job (where I had worked as a sales rep for four and a half years) in my late twenties, I worked a string of temp jobs in various industries for more than ten years. Every time a contract ended, I would go travelling for a few weeks. I loved going to Europe, especially Italy. Life was good! However, as I neared the age of forty, I got a little anxious. I wondered what it was that I was supposed to do with my life, career-wise. I know most people think about this way before they’re forty, but that’s the way it was for me. Call me lazy or stupid for not realizing sooner that I needed to have a career.

I decided to take a course in CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages; formerly known as Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). I had never considered a career in teaching. I liked to learn languages. In fact, that was my major at university, but during the time I was at university or the years after that, teaching English had never been on my radar. However, I decided to take the CELTA course simply because my sister had taken it, and it seemed to be something I could try. Actually, what made me decide was finding a course that was offered at a language school in Italy—my favorite place to visit on vacation! So off I went in the summer of 2002 from Japan (my home at the time) to Italy in the hope of getting a certificate which would lead me to something I could call a career.

After four weeks of intense but enjoyable study with some great trainers and trainees, I had the CELTA in my hand. Even with the certification, it wasn’t easy finding a job, but thankfully I was eventually able to get a job in China. For the next two and a half years, I taught EFL to kids and adults at a private English language school in China.

After returning home (Japan) from China, I went back to doing non-EFL/ESL jobs, and it seemed like I wouldn’t be going back to teaching English. However, unexpected circumstances brought me to the U.S. a few years later, and I managed to get a job teaching English to adults again at a private language school. .

Now, with more than ten years of experience teaching English, I wouldn’t be considered a new teacher. However, I still remember the days when I just started. I didn’t have a degree in TESOL. I had never taught before; the extent of my teaching experience was tutoring a student once and teaching Sunday School. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Perhaps you are like me.

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