A couple of summers ago, I was able to help out at the ESL institute on my college campus to help newly arrived students learn English so they could pursue study at the universities. At the time, I had absolutely no experience working with foreigners or in an academic teaching environment, so I was a little lost on how to approach the process. I was able to experience the difficulties in communication barriers and also discovered my own shyness when it comes to coaching students in learning their English. Our conversation topics ranged from families and sports to even some things like hashish and driving mishaps back home. Over time, it became easier to relate and talk with the students in the class, and I was able to learn so much about other cultures and how much I really could relate to people different from me. It was at first an awkward and learning experience for me, but it was well worth it.
So if you’re considered teaching English abroad but haven’t taken the opportunity to volunteer with students learning English, I think you definitely should! It could be a great way to gain a bit of initial experience before you embark on your first overseas assignment. It can also help to ease any anxiety about teaching for the first time. Extra experience and getting out of your comfort zone will certainly benefit anyone looking to get involved with TEFL!