How to Build Your Teaching Career as a Non-Native English Teacher


Hello everybody, my name is Liza and I am super glad to welcome you to my weekly live session. Please let me know that you can see me clearly and hear me clearly. Today's live session is going to be devoted to a really popular question in my direct messages. I've received several requests to talk about teaching career advice and I hope everybody will find something interesting in this live stream.

We've got the chat box here and you basically can comment with whatever you want. As I have already mentioned my name is Liza and I am a TEFL expert and a former ESL teacher. I’ve been teaching online since 2020 because of the quarantine and because I just want to work remotely. I'm also a non-native English speaker and I've been studying English since I was six years old, so basically I've been studying English for 20 years. Let me know where you are at in your English teaching career and how many years you have been learning English. I'm super interested to know about it. A little bit later we are going to discuss some of the challenges that online ESL teachers face when they build their teaching career. And not only online teachers but just teachers in general, especially those who are non-native English speakers.

I'm located in Yekaterinburg, Russia. It's pretty far from Moscow and this region is super cold this year, I don't know why but today it's about 30 degrees below zero. I hope in your place it's better than here and my plans were destroyed because of the weather. I usually go skiing after the live stream, but today is super cold, it's so freezing, so I’m just going to stay home. I still cannot see any comments so I just assume that everything is working smoothly and I can go forward with the presentation. So today's topic is going to be how to build your teaching career as a non-native English speaker.

I receive a lot of questions on this point from TEFL students and I think it's something really important to discuss because some people who enroll into the course don't understand how to implement this experience after the course. Today I would like to share my personal experience and give you some pieces of advice on how to build your own teaching career.

The first problem everybody who enrolls into the course faces is educational background. At ITTT we have a lot of students who haven’t got any teaching experience or education in the teaching sphere and this is the main reason they decide to enroll into the course. I also didn't have this type of education, when I studied at university I learned English linguistics but I can't say it is the same as teaching English. I feel like it was more about learning English extensively rather than learning how to teach English. When I finished university I had that question, what should I do? What career path should I choose? And in my head teaching was just the easiest way because I had some English fluency at that time and I already had some teaching experience as a private tutor, so I just decided to stick to that path. I wanted just to dive a little bit into the teaching career more by taking some courses and learning a little bit more about teaching methodology and so on.

If you don't have this English teaching expertise, TEFL certification would be the first step I recommend you take. It was not my first step and I really regret that I didn't take TEFL earlier because I struggled so much with teaching without understanding how to do it. The main reason why you should take a TEFL certification is that it provides you with the basic methodology and understanding of how to teach English to those who don't speak English as a first language.

Later on as I got some more teaching experience and finished the TEFL course I understood that it would be a great addition to my CV to take some more specialized courses. So when I was working as a private tutor I also obtained an IELTS and when I found my first job the employer provided me with some really useful teaching courses, for example multiple intelligences and fixed phonics, these were really useful, especially when I was younger and less experienced because when I took those courses I also could communicate with my peer teachers and ask for some professional advice from the trainers, so it was really valuable. Recently I also listened to some conferences and got certificates stating that I took part in those conferences, unfortunately it's in Russian. I don't know why but the conference was international. Anyway, if you want to build a strong career it's a great idea to take some additional training.

The next step or the next idea how to build on your teaching skills would be to look for some practice. When I was younger right after university I applied for various jobs in China and I got a job and it was a life-changing experience. I was young and I didn't have a lot of plans for the future, I just wanted to learn how to teach and make some money as well and working in China was just so precious. I love remembering those times because I found a lot of friends from all over the world. I also learned how to teach from different experienced teachers and that part of my experience was probably the most helpful. It is really something else when you go abroad and teach in a real classroom. I would also recommend you consider volunteer teaching if you want to find some practice but you are still unsure if you can charge for your lessons. It's something to try and to get real life experience.

Some other ideas would be a little bit different from teaching itself but they are still really valuable and helpful in your career such as blogging and maybe lesson planning or creating your own teaching materials. If you want to teach English you can consider teaching through a blog, it's a great way to get some professional experience. I have a lot of friends who run their micro blogs on Instagram and they share either teaching experience or English learning experience with the audience. They also act as teachers because they give useful advice, they create interactive lessons and so on, but they spend less time on it and they learn a slightly different type of skill such as designing online lessons. There are teachers who also don't teach at all, they just design their lesson plans and create materials and sell them online to teachers like me. They make money this way and I feel like they also get some teaching experience because they plan in their heads how to carry out and deliver the lesson appropriately.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions on building your teaching career, where you are at with your teaching path, are you at the very beginning of becoming a teacher or are you a professional already? Please let me know. Hello everybody, I can see your comments and I can see your greetings, thanks a lot for letting me know that everything is okay. While you are thinking of your questions I would like to mention that this QR code will give you a 30% discount off any ITTT course. You can scan it with your phone or you can copy this promo code link and you will also get the same discount. So if you are wanting to start your teaching career but you are at the very beginning you can use this discount to start your TEFL course as soon as possible.

Okay, so back to my presentation. Just to give you a reminder of what we have already covered. So we've talked a little bit about your educational background. If you don't have any educational skills related to English teaching then TEFL certification will be a great step to becoming a teacher. It's also a great idea to take additional training. For example, if you are not completely aware of your English speaking skills you could definitely think of taking a language test because working on your English skills as a non-native speaker is vital. I am still learning English and I think that it won't finish at any point of my career or at any point of my life.

Taking a language certificate is a bonus for all non-native speakers and as for me right now I'm taking classes in a group preparing for a CPE exam, which is a Cambridge proficiency test aimed at getting C-2 level. I hope to pass this exam at the end of this year or maybe in the beginning of next year, so I'm really looking forward to leveling up in English. And as for teaching skills, I've already mentioned you need to look for as many opportunities to practice as possible. Right, now I would like to check the chat box because there are some questions there.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to pronounce your name, but the question is, have you experienced talent-based learning?

I'm not sure that I have the expertise with this question as I've never actually heard of this type of learning. Let me write it down and maybe next time I'll be able to answer this question.

Moses says, I don't have any teaching experience but I have a bachelors in English literature and a masters in another field. I am currently planning for an English teaching career.

I think you have a great base to start your teaching career and you could think of taking a TEFL course as a start, to know how to teach appropriately. But I think that you have already started studying with us right? So I think you're almost ready to begin. And one more thing to mention is that many people believe that it's impossible to start teaching without any certification or diploma. It's not true, you can do it but maybe you will feel a little bit unsure of your actions, because that was what I felt, that I was suffering from some lack of knowledge and some expertise in teaching English because teaching methodologies change and something new often appears. For example, this year and the previous year were the most important in online teaching and new methodologies appeared in online education. So what I decided to do was to find a job in an online school. It was underpaid I should say, the hourly rate was low but I still took the job to make sure I understood how to teach online, how to deliver lessons online and most of the online schools have their own training so it's a great idea to get some practical knowledge.

If you want to start teaching don't hesitate to do that, don't wait for a perfect moment, just start right now, look for a job and be proactive. I think it's even more important than certifications and training because you can get trained at whatever point you want.

Thanks a lot Hannah for letting me know that talent-based learning is the latest trend and I'll try my best to learn about it and maybe I'll try to implement something in my teaching as well. Do you guys have any other questions related to a teaching online career or whatever else you want to ask? Let me know quickly so that we can work fast.

As for other teaching opportunities I would like to mention teaching abroad as well. I have already said I used to teach in China and it was a life-changing experience for me, but nowadays it's a little bit more challenging to go abroad, especially if you're a non-native English speaker. But actually I still have some friends who found new positions abroad during the quarantine and actually being a non-native teacher at that time was not a problem at all because schools have the same amount of demand in their countries but there are no teachers at the moment so that was a great opportunity to start teaching.

Someone has asked, did you teach English in China after taking a TEFL course?

Yes I did and TEFL was the certificate that helped me to find a better position at that time. I found a job in a bilingual school and I worked as a head teacher in another one. There were actually a lot of different schools and every school had their own approach to teaching English. One school for example could deliver classes where teachers go from one classroom to another and they just meet different students every 30 minutes. I stayed in the same classroom with the same children and it was more helpful to me as a non-native speaker who was not able to speak Chinese, I was more comfortable to stay with the same classroom. It was helpful in terms of experience, I could try different methods of delivering English and I saw greater results in my students. But yeah, the TEFL certification helped me to just know how to work with various groups of people and at that time in China I taught children from three years old to seven years old.

What about you guys, let me know where you are at in your teaching career and what are your plans? I'm really curious because it's just the most important thing we are here for, to discuss your experience and to discuss maybe any challenges and some things you are unsure of.

Hadier says, I have a bachelor's in English literature and I work in an international school. The most problematic situation for me is delivering writing lessons.

I also had the same problem and my advice would be to practice your own writing first and then try to implement your experience as a learner in your English writing lessons. Right now I am studying in a group to pass a proficiency test and we also practice writing essays and reports and stuff like that and I noticed that when I practice those skills as a learner I can better explain to my students how to do it appropriately. Here I think that we all are non-native speakers so it’s a win-win situation, we can share the same type of experience with our students. I also recommend you check out such services as grammarly, let me write it down so grammarly is a service that helps you to check your writing, like if you have any errors or mistakes or maybe you build sentences in a difficult manner, it's a service made by Cambridge and it is made specifically to practice your writing skills. When you prepare for exams, for example. I used it when I prepared for my IELTS, and it was really helpful because I learned how to organize my texts.

And one more thing to recommend is to check out handbooks for teachers. For example, If you prepare your students for IELTS there is an IELTS handbook for teachers. This handbook contains a lot of useful information on how to organize your lessons, on how to approach different tasks, and writing is one of those tasks. So I strongly recommend searching for handbooks or teachers books. If you teach general English you'll probably still focus on some specific skills and you use a book or a course specifically for this purpose and it should have teachers books, this resource is absolutely amazing and valuable so don't underestimate it and use it in your teaching as well because it has a lot of useful advice on how to organize whatever lessons you need to teach.

I'm currently thinking about whether to take an online TEFL course or an in-class TEFL course abroad. Any advice?

So there is no huge difference between an online course and an in-class course apart from the practical experience. If you feel like taking some in-class courses would be beneficial for you, yes I advise you to do that because you will be able to interact with other people and get real life experience in a real classroom. That's what I actually had with my training when I was working in an international school as we had training at work and we could interact with each other as teachers and exchange our teaching experience. We could also ask our trainers for advice, it was really valuable.

Okay, I'm not sure how to pronounce your name properly, but anyways this person is really experienced in teaching and it looks like they have already had a lot of teaching background and educational background. I'm really glad that you have joined this live stream and I hope you can share some of your experience or ask any questions in terms of teaching.

I feel like there are no other questions in the comments box, but if you guys still have anything on your mind please let me know and I'll try my best to help you with whatever problems you have.

Hannah has mentioned that project-based learning can be used in digital teaching.

Thanks a lot for commenting. I really appreciate it. What I think my plan is for the near future is to research project-based learning because it can be useful in our teaching career. It’s awesome to know that such experienced people join these live sessions. I think if you join our ITTT group and share your teaching experience and methodological experience there it would be really useful for the group and for our community. Thanks a lot for joining. By the way Hannah, where are you from?

We have already been live for almost 40 minutes and I think that we are coming to the end of this session. Okay, so Hannah is sharing her email address, if you guys have any questions in terms of teaching methodology you can email her as long as she shares her email address. Later on myself and my colleague Linda are going to organize room chats in Clubhouse, so if you guys are on Clubhouse already follow us and let's have a chat about teaching. I hope we can make a really impressive community there and we will be able to exchange our experience.

Okay, so Moses has a question. You have a TEFL in-class course in Korea and if I take that will it increase my opportunities for getting a job in Korea? I'm asking this because I understand that Korea does not accept non-native speakers for English teaching.

Unfortunately I cannot give you an answer to this question because I am not experienced in teaching in Korea. I don't know about their legal issues. I would recommend you join one of Linda's live streams as she goes live every Friday and she is experienced in Korea because she lives in South Korea. I believe she will be able to give you a piece of advice on this problem, but the general thing is to check if a country welcomes non-native speakers by visiting their embassy website.

Ivan from Mexico has let us know that a TEFL certification is required by employers in Vietnam where he is currently working. Ivan has also shared some of the most important skills from the TEFL course. Okay, you can check it out on the screen. Thanks a lot Ivan for sharing with us, it's really vital to know that TEFL certification is not just a piece of paper.

If you guys don't have any further questions this is the end of the session and I would just like to remind you that we share this valuable 30% discount if you want to take a TEFL course maybe later or maybe right now you can scan this QR code with your cell phone or you can copy the link from the chat box and you will be able to get this 30% discount at whatever point of time you need it. And don't forget to follow ITTT on whatever social networks you use. If you like Instagram we have a nice page there, so follow us, subscribe and don't forget to like us.

Thanks a lot for coming to this live session, it was a really productive discussion. I hope to see you next week. Hannah, thank you for sharing some really useful information about a new trend in teaching, I'll try my best to check it out and I hope it will be useful in my teaching experience. Thanks a lot for this session guys.

Bye, bye. See you next time.

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