From Taxi Driver to International Teacher - a Graduate’s Story
2019-04-10 Mark Crocker Alumni Experiences
Many people may think that the worst part of being an Uber driver are the belligerent midnight trips from downtown to the suburbs or the aggressive pre-coffee commuters or the fact that a five-minute drive can take thirty minutes because of gridlock. However, as an Uber driver of one year, I believe that the worst part about the job are trips to the airport. When I interacted with passengers going to the airport, I would think of all the new things they would get to try and the different cultures they would learn about. The problem with these trips was they were a constant reminder that the world is just waiting for us to explore it, but I was stuck leading a conventional and mundane life.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Matthew H.
The Desire to Explore the Wider World
Adventure and exploration are things which are unique to each individual. To some, trying out a new restaurant or getting a new hairstyle would be a daunting venture, but for most, adventure is being in an unfamiliar situation, trying new things and learning about a new culture. Making the leap from home to a foreign country can be difficult and costly, which is why completing a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course can be such an excellent first step in starting a new life abroad. Exploration is a human compulsion which helps to define human identity, but unfortunately many people aren’t financially stable enough to explore and experience foreign cultures first hand. For many people, foreign culture is limited to small cultural exchanges such as interacting with tourists or exchange students, or seeing a foreign film. Most people have the ambition to travel but are deterred by financial commitments and limitations; however, this gap can be bridged with a TEFL certification.
What a TEFL Certificate Can Give You
The number of English users worldwide is about 1.75 billion people and according to the British Council, it’s expected to increase to about 2 billion by the year 2020. A career in English education can grant you the privilege of seeing the world and being a part of a growing field. A TEFL certification can be an excellent introduction for people looking to transition into English education and work abroad. When you do a TEFL certification, you are taught professional development skills such as CV and resume construction, important questions to ask in an interview and different cultural characteristics of regions around the world. A TEFL certification can also offer you many resources for job seeking. A TEFL certification is more than just training for teaching English as a foreign language, it also professionally develops you to work in international settings.
Also read: 10 Tips to Help You Enjoy Your TEFL Course
My First Teaching Job Abroad
Most positions in English teaching require certificates in TEFL, TESOL, DELTA or CELTA. However, some employers such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) don’t require any teaching certificates. In 2018, the JET Program alone hired around 2,000 assistant language teachers (ALTs) to assist Japanese teachers of English (JTEs). As an ALT with JET, I didn’t need any teaching background or training to work in the Japanese public education system. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but I was able to adapt to the Japanese work environment. I worked with a JTE and often took a back seat approach to lesson planning, however, the job often felt like being a human tape recorder and it was mostly unfulfilling.
How Taking a TEFL Course Changed My Teaching Practice and My Career Prospects
In 2018, I started an online TEFL certification course, which benefited me in many ways. A TEFL course prepares you for more than just teaching grammar, parts of speech and vocabulary, it also trains you in proper classroom etiquette, building healthy rapport with students and co-workers, effective lesson planning, cultural sensitivities, classroom organization, teaching pronunciation and even professional development. After completing my first 120 hours of TEFL training, I quickly acknowledged my faults in teaching as an ALT and I corrected them immediately. I also began to participate in lesson planning; eventually, I got my own class and a pay rise with a contract extension for showing initiative. Although some positions don’t need any certification, it’s always better to be prepared. A person’s pride can be their downfall and we should always strive for more education to better ourselves, if not for us, then for our students.
Also read: Top Tips for Taking an Online TEFL Course
The Demand For Teachers is Huge, So What Are You Waiting For?
With globalization, interest in English is increasing and there is a huge demand for English teachers around the world; there are also many people who have the desire to travel and experience different cultures. Some may get a job without training, but a teacher’s lack of training is actually a disservice to their students. Acquiring a TEFL certification can not only help you perform better in the classroom, but it can also be the first step to a different life in a foreign country. Whenever I’m in an Uber, I am always reminded of my life before English teaching, when I was so eager to see the world. My TEFL certification has since opened doors for me to work and live in many amazing places around the globe.
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