Top 5 Books That Will Make You a Better TEFL Teacher

By Altiné Mni

Reading is an underestimated activity that benefits us tremendously when done regularly. In fact, a 2016 Social Science & Medicine study found that reading books for an average of 30 minutes per day (about a chapter a day) might extend your lifespan.   

It is almost the end of my summer vacation, a perfect time to read. Here are a few books that have helped me hugely as a teacher. And in the end, I would love to hear from you as I am always looking for new and good books to read.

1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

This is one of my favorites of all time; I just finished reading this book for the second time. In summary, this book is about finding and focusing on the most important and meaningful things rather than caring about everything life throws at us. 

I learned from this book that the key to living a good life is not caring and focusing on more things but instead caring and focusing only on the things that align with our values.

Why should you read this book as TEFL? Reading this book helped me focus more on the bigger picture and what impact I want to have on these kids.

I also started becoming more patient with my students and building more meaningful relationships with all my students. What matters most is the long-term impact, and the question is always how can I help my students succeed? 

2. Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book; it is full of stories and wisdom, showing that ego is the main obstacle that prevents most of us from achieving our goals. 

As teachers, most of the time, ego pushes us to act in ways that crush our students’ confidence and create an unnecessary and unpleasant class environment. 

For example, when a student appears to disrespect us, we tend to react by punishing them. After reading this book, I learned to pause and ask myself before reacting: Is it me or my ego? And most of the time, I find out it is just my ego trying to make me act in ways that I might regret later.

3. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote this book. The book’s message includes love, hope, responsibility, and inner freedom as means that help any person endure and overcome difficult experiences.

This book was actually recommended to me by a friend after my father passed away. While struggling to survive in the Nazi camp, drawing from his experiences and observations, Viktor Frankl developed the logotherapy theory, which claimed that individuals could endure and overcome suffering through a search for meaning in life.

This book is a must-read for not only TEFL teachers but also anyone who is going through a difficult time. 

4. Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep Work is mostly about productivity and how to stay focused and get more things done. The author Cal Newport is also a teacher, to be exact an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. 

Throughout the book, Cal Newport shares stories about how he got more publications and accelerated his career because of his ability to work deeply. 

Reading Deep Work helps me become more effective in lesson planning and a more effective teacher overall. 

5. How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I read this book while still working in the banking industry in Canada, and it helped me win many prestigious awards. 

The core idea of this book is influence starts from within; in other words, to change other people’s behavior, we will need to change our own behavior first. 

It teaches you the principles you need to become friendly and pleasant, someone people trust and respect, and these principles will help win others over and influence behavior through leadership. Isn’t that all the quality we need to become good teachers? 

If you want to develop your interpersonal skills with your students, colleagues, parents, and school administration, this is the book you should read. 

Written by Altiné Mni for TEFL.NET September 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.
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