5 keys to becoming an indispensable professional in the EFL market

I have recently read an internet article that suggested some essential attitudes in order to become indispensable at work. The author lists some rather interesting recommendations that could make anyone more important in their workplace. In this post, I would like to use this text as inspiration to express what I consider important features for EFL professionals stand out.

  1. Hold the mindset that change provides opportunity. – some teachers seem to have a tendency to cling to old habits and insist on doing what “has always worked”. Rarely is change of curriculum, materials, resources or approaches cherished and looked forward to. Teachers who are willing to experiment with the new and who embrace change stand out from the crowd and represent the essence of education more truly.
  2. Treat everyone with genuine respect. – we talk a lot about building rapport with learners, which is usually a fairly easy thing for Brazilian teachers to accomplish. However, an indispensable teacher will show respect to their learners during the lesson, but also in the staffroom and in a bar. Respecting learners should not be limited to the realms of a classroom but expanded to every moment of our life. Other teachers, supervisors, secretaries and members of the staff should also be treated with the same care and attention.
  3. Be Truly Engaged. – in many contexts, teachers are expected to get involved with a variety of tasks and activities. These might range from helping organize cultural events to more administrative duties. An indispensable professional will be fully aware of the importance of every single task – however small it may sound – and will engage with enthusiasm and energy.
  4. Provide Exceptional Value – make a conscious effort to demonstrate exceptional value to your students and to your organisation. You will need to invest time, energy, and creativity to understand your learners and your institution’s mission, goals and requirements. Are you a commodity, or do you differentiate yourself from others? Successful teachers will deliver quality lessons and maintain good relationships with colleagues and supervisors. However, this fact alone won’t make you stand out. Never be a commodity, always work to differentiate yourself.
  5. Do not overfocus on the next job position but rather on the skills to be developed – the EFL market is bustling and there are lots of job opportunities and new challenges out there. Institutions are starting to choose their new leaders, trainers, materials writers based on competencies rather than length of commitment to a certain workplace. Skills, knowledge, attitude and awareness are becoming more valued than simply staying in the same company for many years. Therefore it is important that you are not focused on the job position, but rather on the skills required. “You have to do the job before you get the title.” In other words, if you want to be a school manager, then you need to develop the hard and soft skills required for a management position “before” being promoted: you need the education of a manager, you need to start dressing like a manager, acting like a manager, speaking like a manager, and then one day, when you have had the right amount of experience, someone is going to say, “I think this person would make a great manager!”
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Vinicius Nobre

Vinicius Nobre (Vinnie) is the Academic Manager at Associação Cultura Inglesa São Paulo. He is also a CELTA and ICELT tutor, a Pearson Longman author and former president of BRAZ-TESOL. Email:

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