The Challenges of Being an EFL Teacher in Brazil (and the Joys)

by Henrick Oprea, BRAZ-TESOL President

“Being a teacher,” they say, “is not something that will allow you to make a living.” This is probably a sentence that many teachers (not, this is not only said to English teachers) have heard when they announced to the world that they wanted to work in education as teachers. Is this for real, or is it just a sentence that has been repeated so often that people now take it for granted? Do teachers really make that less money than other professionals? And, much more importantly, is money all that matters when choosing a profession? Fortunately, there are way more important things to worry about when choosing a profession, and being an English teacher is challenging in many different ways. Here’s why:

  • You got to be very knowledgeable in all major aspects of a foreign language: grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.
  • When teaching, you can’t just focus on getting students to pass a test. They need to learn how to read, write, listen and speak the language. They need to be able to function properly in very realistic situations, not just on a test.
  • You need to understand about how people learn if you truly want to help your learners.

There are many other challenges, of course. But these three will suffice for now. The good thing is that teaching EFL is also enjoyable for many different reasons:

  • It doesn’t matter what you’re teaching, you’ll always have the chance to do things differently because you have a different person in front of you trying to learn. Think about all the opportunities for reflection.
  • You work with communication. If you like people, it doesn’t get any better than this.
  • People learn a language to communicate in many different settings. You can keep abreast with all that is going on in the world and use it all in your classes. That’s what I call life-long learning.

Things may be daunting at first and you may end up focussing too hard on the challenges and fail to see the joys in your early days. However, there are tons of things you can do to help you out. One of them is joining a community of teachers who are constantly looking for opportunities to develop and always willing to help others. I can think of no better place than BRAZ-TESOL for that – the largest association for English language teachers in Brazil. By participating in the events promoted by BRAZ-TESOL you soon discover yet another joy of being an EFL teacher: community.

As you embark on your journey towards becoming a teacher, I wish you all the success in the world. Teachers change lives, they inspire changes, and we would probably live in a much better society if people learned that education is no laughing matter. As you join the profession, remember to always treat yourself with the respect you deserve. You’ll be a teacher – a life changer. Don’t let anyone put you down.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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