Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a constantly changing field. Research helps keep us up-to-date with the best teaching methods and learning methods, while other extenuating circumstances can affect changes. 2021 Has seen a lot of changes in many different respects over the last few months, and it’s been no different with regards to TEFL.
As TEFL teachers, we need to keep aware of what’s hot and what’s not both when it comes to teaching English as a Foreign Language and travelling. As TEFL teachers, we are usually frequent fliers and often digital nomads, so knowing what’s what can help us make sensible travel decisions and save money. At the same time, knowing what’s new in educational circles helps us bring our A-game into the classroom.
Let’s look at the top emerging trends of 2021 when it comes to all things TEFL.
Augmented reality in the classroom
It’s no secret that technology has unapologetically made its way into classrooms all over the world, but this year it has totally been taken up a notch. We are familiar with apps to teach and learn a language but soon we will see the implementation of augmented reality with the same purpose. Virtual guided tours, interactive vocabulary games and interactive coursebooks are all possibilities with augmented reality. For our tech-savvy students especially this will be a welcome advancement of our TEFL classrooms.
Certainly related to augmented reality and virtual reality is the move towards gamification for educational purposes. This has become particularly evident in language learning situations. There are already a number of apps that utilise gamification to help with language learning, and we can expect to see an increase in the use of these apps or similar techniques in the EFL classroom.
Read more: The 7 Best Apps for Learning English
Mindfulness and learning
We are slowly becoming more aware of the stresses of modern living we face every day. As a result, we are becoming better at understanding the need for mindfulness. As teachers, we can contribute to our students’ mental well-being, and bringing mindfulness into our classrooms is one way to do this. Simple mindfulness exercises have been shown to improve sleep, overall well-being and concentration – which is key to learning.
Microlearning stems from the belief that a small amount of information is more memorable than a large amount. In other words, we are more likely to remember information if it is delivered in short, sharp bursts of content. For independent learning, this comes in the form of apps. In the classroom, this is realised through the use of short games and activities to learn, in particular, vocabulary and discrete language items. This also helps to increase motivation levels in the classroom, as students tend to find it easier to pay attention for shorter periods of time.
The embrace of digital nomadism
Us online English teachers have been aware of the joys of being a digital nomad for years, and now the rest of the workforce is catching on. More and more cities are becoming friendlier places to work remotely, with faster and more reliable internet connections and bigger and better-equipped co-working spaces. Governments are getting on board too, with visas specifically for digital nomads allowing us to work in certain countries much more easily than before. This all makes working remotely from a foreign country much easier than before. Plus you can be sure you will find like-minded people no matter where you are.
An appreciation for remote destinations…
While before we might have happily jumped on the first plane to a bustling, crowded city like Bangkok or New York or Buenos Aires, these days we’re a bit more careful about where we want to go. This has meant that there has been an increase in interest for smaller, more remote destinations. Considering that there are TEFL jobs no matter where you are in the world, this means you should consider the possibility of working in a smaller, not-so-common TEFL destination. Choosing a more off-the-beaten-track destination will also let you have a more authentic experience, with fewer tourists and more locals.
…and local destinations
Another emerging trend is that of local travel. Who’s to say that you can’t teach English as a Foreign Language in your own country, or a neighbouring country? There is no reason to travel halfway across the world to find a TEFL job, unless you want to, of course. Staying close to home means you can see your friends and family more often and you can nip back home quickly if you need to. There are probably many local cities in your country that you have never visited before, and these days hopping over to the next-door country has never been easier.
As well as travelling off the beaten path more often and staying closer to home, we’re actually travelling less often. In other words, TEFL teachers are more likely to travel to a destination and stay put there for an extended period of time rather than moving around regularly. What this means is we are being more careful when it comes to choosing where we are going, instead of jumping on a plane willy-nilly. To be honest, we’re quite happy with this development, because it means we can forge friendships and put down roots for a while before we have to do it all again.
Travellers these days are looking for more meaningful and authentic experiences. Big-group tours run by tour operators are no longer seeing the numbers they used to, as more and more people are moving towards supporting smaller, local businesses. If this sounds like you, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of options available to you, from staying with a host family to doing language exchanges.
The last few years have seen a huge change in the way we do many things. This has led to a number of developments both in the classroom and on the road. As TEFL teachers we are in the unique position that we are affected by both. Luckily for us, change is not necessarily a bad thing. These 9 emerging trends in both teaching English as a Foreign Language and travel might make our lives a little different, but not any less interesting and exciting.