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Why is TEFL Certification a Must for Non-Native Teachers?

Why is TEFL Certification a Must for Non-Native Teachers? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

In today's world, teaching English has become a mainstream job, no longer limited to native speakers. Everywhere you go, you will find nationals from various countries teaching English with sometimes rather strong accents. What are their motivations and why would schools choose non-natives to teach English in the first place?

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Patrick B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Job Requirements

While traveling through Asia or South America, two of the areas where most TEFL teachers currently operate, one will often encounter ESL teachers. Why? Many of them travel a lot and have rather relaxed curriculums with just 20-30 hours of class time per week. This while still being paid above the average local salaries in most places. This allows them more time to socialize, go out regularly, and as before mentioned; to travel. When encountering other travelers, these teachers then proceed often to describe their working conditions, benefits, and how many years they spent abroad. Which in turn attracts more people to the profession. Who does not dream of living in paradise, having a moderate workload, and being paid well enough to live a comfortable life? Especially after college, this career is a great way to escape one’s home and experience some adventure. Therefore, it is understandable that a lot of young college graduates, take the chance, do their 120 hour TEFL course and take a job abroad to teach kids a foreign language.

Also Read: 5 Energizing Flashcard Games for EFL Classes

Benefits of Learning Other Languages

Interestingly enough, many of those newly found TEFL Teachers, often do speak only one language and never actually had to learn a second language for themselves. This could be construed as a limiting factor when trying to understand their students’ issues with learning the language. Taking this into account and considering the imbalance between demand for ESL teachers worldwide versus the limited supply of native college graduates interested in teaching, shows what has created an opportunity for many bi-lingual people with fluency in English.

China as The Biggest Market

While ten years ago, most English teachers in China were English, American or Australian, now you can find Brazilians, Mexicans, Germans, French or Spanish nationals doing the same job. The job ads, especially in Asia, still often call for native speakers, but in reality, it is often not required and it is usually very easy to land a job.

Unfortunately, this is not only a good thing because other arbitrary reasons other than qualifications are nowadays often used to choose teachers. In certain countries, especially in rural areas, having a foreign language teacher can be seen as something prestigious. In these areas, teachers often are used to showing off how “advanced” a school supposedly is, to impress prospective parents or government officials.

In these cases, a Caucasian face can be all that is needed to land the job, while people of color or even Asian professionals with proper credentials often have no chance. This due to the simple fact that in these places, people typically still think of native English speakers as Caucasians and school administrators seem to give that more important than their students' education.

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There are many positives and negatives to be considered when thinking about teaching ESL abroad and native versus non-native teachers but overall we can be thankful to have the amazing opportunity to be a part of this community.

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