What is TEFL teaching?

Teaching English abroad is a great way to see the world and get paid while doing it, but what does it actually involve? Before you buy a plane ticket and jet off across the world it is a good idea to research as much as possible about TEFL qualifications, the possible restrictions you might encounter when applying for jobs, and the long term prospects this path might lead to. Here we look at the answers to all these questions and more.

What does TEFL and TESOL stand for?

These acronyms are used when referring to training courses that English language teachers undertake, as well as the certification they receive upon completion. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. As these terms are essentially the same, they are often used interchangeably, however, TEFL is most commonly used within the UK and TESOL is usually preferred in the USA. Although some countries may favor one acronym over the other, it is important to remember that a TEFL certification and a TESOL certification are exactly the same thing as the training involved is identical.

What are the technical differences between TEFL and TESOL?

Although TEFL and TESOL training courses are identical and the acronyms are generally used interchangeably, there is a technical difference between the two. The general perception is that speakers of English as a foreign language live in a non-English speaking country, meaning they don?t need to speak English on a daily basis and are usually learning the language for travel, business or simply as a hobby. In contrast, speakers of English as a second language live in an English speaking country, meaning they need to speak English on a daily basis for work, socializing, shopping etc.

What qualifications do I need to teach EFL?

In order to secure a position as an EFL teacher most employers require their job applicants to possess a relevant qualification known as a TEFL or TESOL certificate. However, as there is no official standard when it comes to certification, it can be hard to know which course to choose from the many options available. A quick internet search for TEFL certification will reveal a huge number of different companies offering all manner of courses that vary enormously in the level of commitment required in terms of both time and finances. So how do you decide which course is right for you?

How do TEFL courses differ?

TEFL courses are generally categorized by the amount of hours they should take to complete. Online courses start at as little as 40 hours and in-class courses can be completed over a single weekend. If you are looking for a simple introduction to language teaching or are considering volunteering as an EFL teacher then these courses may be sufficient, however, it is worth considering that many teaching jobs that offer the best working conditions and an attractive salary will require a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours.

Which TEFL course provides the most comprehensive training?

If you want the best possible start to your teaching career and really want to hit the ground running, we would recommend you complete an in-class TEFL course at one of our international training centers. The main benefit of this form of certification is the inclusion of extensive teaching practice with genuine language learners under the guidance of a professional teacher trainer. On completion of this four- week intensive training you will be ready to walk into your first teaching job fully confident in your ability to plan and deliver lessons to a high standard.

Is an online TEFL course sufficient for teaching English abroad?

For many people the in-class course can prove to be too time consuming and simply out of their price range. Luckily this is not a major problem as ITTT offers an online alternative that leads to a 120-hour TEFL certificate that is widely accepted by international employers. Although the online option doesn?t include teaching practice, it does include a wide selection of videos that provide a great insight into what to expect when you enter your very own classroom for the first time.

Do I really need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad?

Strictly speaking the answer is no, you do not have to possess a TEFL certificate in order to find work as an English language teacher. In some countries around the world it is still possible to secure employment simply by being a native English speaker. However, there are several reasons why we would strongly recommend that you complete a TEFL training course before you set off to teach English abroad.

Why has a TEFL certificate become more important?

In recent years many popular destinations have begun to tighten the requirements necessary for teaching English in schools and language centers. A recognized TEFL certificate is now required in order to secure a work permit in many countries, whilst the ever growing number of teachers with a TEFL qualification means that employers in the majority of countries will no longer accept unqualified teachers. Put simply, if you want to live and work in any popular destination across the world, you are more than likely to need a TEFL qualification. Another important factor to consider is the salary, benefits and overall working conditions that each job has to offer. This varies considerably from one country to the next but one fact remains consistent, the jobs that offer the best packages in most situations will require a TEFL certification.

As well as official requirements and personal benefits, there is one other very important reason why we consider it necessary to earn a TEFL qualification before you enter the world of English language teaching. The ability to speak a language does not mean you are equipped to teach it!

What will I learn from a TEFL certificate course?

Teaching a language requires certain specialist skills and knowledge which allow you to pass on what you know to your students. Completing a reputable TEFL course will ensure you are clear on the structures of English grammar such as the tense system, conditionals, modals and passive voice, and how to teach them effectively. You will also learn essential teaching skills including how to plan your lessons, methodologies for effective teaching and how to manage your students. Not only will this knowledge help you to secure a good teaching position, it will also ensure that your students have the best chance of improving their English abilities.

How is a TEFL teacher different for a foreign language teacher?

TEFL teachers should not be confused with foreign language teachers. A TEFL qualified teacher does not typically share the same native language as their students and are specifically trained to offer explanations and directed teaching methods to non-English speakers. This teaching style is mainly focused on repetition, drills, demonstrations, and visuals.

What age groups do TEFL teachers work with?

Often wrongfully interpreted, a TEFL teacher does not necessarily work with children. In fact, the student age group can cover all ages, from kindergarten through university level and beyond. You often encounter English language academies that specialize in a certain age group, for example, an institution specifically for children or another designed to help business executives improve their English skills for international business communication. Therefore, the role of the teacher can vary from case to case which requires instructors to be flexible and adaptable to new situations.

Where do TEFL teachers work?

In general, you can find opportunities to work as a TEFL teacher anywhere on the map, even in your home country where groups of learners whose native language is not English may include migrants or refugees. However, the majority of teachers work in countries around the globe where English is not the official language. Popular countries include China, South Korea and Thailand in Asia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and South American countries such as Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. TEFL teachers might work in classrooms as main instructors or they may cooperate with other primary teachers in a supporting role. On the other hand, teachers might have local supporting teachers who are able to help the students in their native language to ensure smooth communication.

What are the benefits of being a TEFL teacher?

When asking teachers why they pursue a career teaching English abroad, the responses usually come down to similar reasons: Huge money saving opportunities, living a comfortable lifestyle, being able to explore foreign cultures, being able to pay off (college) debt, and to improve skills for further career opportunities

What does CELTA mean?

Short for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, CELTA is essentially an individual brand of TEFL certification that is awarded by Cambridge English Language Assessment which is a part of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. The course is an intensive 4-week program that is offered by a variety of schools and training centers in countries all over the world. As the name suggests it is primarily aimed at those looking to teach adult students.

Is CELTA the best course option?

When it comes to choosing the best course you should not be too concerned about which acronym you end up with on your certificate. Whether it is TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA is not the most important factor, what matters is whether the course meets the accepted international standard for English language teaching. These standards require:

  • A minimum course length of 120 hours (4-week in-class course or equivalent)
  • A minimum of six hours of observed teaching practice (OTP) with genuine language students
  • The course should be conducted by instructors who possess a high level of relevant qualifications and extensive teaching experience
  • The curriculum should be externally accredited and monitored by an independent body

What if a course doesn't meet the criteria?

There are many short-format/low priced course options on the market that do not meet the above criteria. If you are looking for a professional certification that is welcomed by employers all over the world then these are best avoided. Any course that does meet the criteria, whether TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA, should give you the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to start your new career teaching English abroad.

Does the quality of an in-class training course vary by location?

When making a final decision on which course to take it is worth remembering that the quality of each course may vary from one training center to the next. You might read on blogs or forums that the CELTA course is superior to any other TEFL course. This is simply not true as the course is operated by a wide array of training centers in different parts of the world, some of which are good and some not so good. It is also worth considering that many TEFL or TESOL certificate courses are now equal to or exceeding the standards set by the University of Cambridge for CELTA certification. The bottom line is that the quality and effectiveness of any teacher training course is not set by the acronym on the certificate, but the overall standard of the individual training center that provides it.

Do TEFL certificates expire?

No, TEFL certificates do not expire, they are valid for life. Once you have completed your course, either online or by attending a training center, you will be able to start work straight away or set off on your travels and use it later when your funds starts to get low. A TEFL certificate really is a great qualification to have in your backpack or briefcase as you can use it to earn a good income at any time, in any part of the world.

Should I complete additional TEFL qualifications?

Although your certification will never expire, we do recommend that you continue to develop your skills and knowledge as you progress in your teaching career. Additional courses such as an advanced TEFL Diploma or a specialized certificate in teaching business English or teaching young learners will build on your existing skills, allowing you to deliver even better lessons in the classroom. These extra qualifications will also look good on your CV/resume and open up further job opportunities that may not have previously been open to you.

Should I consider a TEFL refresher course?

During your TEFL course you will receive instruction in a wide range of specific skills such as lesson planning, classroom management and correction techniques, as well as learn about various English grammar subjects and phonology. Much of what you learn will stay with you for the long term, however, if you spend an extended period away from the classroom you may well benefit from a refresher course before you start a new teaching job. Keeping your teaching skills up-to-date will not only allow you to enter an unfamiliar classroom full of confidence in your ability, but will also ensure that your students receive a high level of instruction that allows them to successfully progress in their language studies.

Can I teach English abroad?

Almost anyone who has the desire to teach English abroad can make their dream come true. Although you will find some restrictions regarding teaching experience and academic qualifications in some countries, there are plenty of great destinations around the world where a TEFL certificate is all that is required. Whatever your background, work history, or age, there is the perfect teaching job waiting for you somewhere in the world.

Can I teach English abroad without any teaching experience?

Yes, you can start a new career teaching English abroad without any form of teaching experience. Due to a huge demand for English language teachers in countries all over the world, tens of thousands of English speakers head overseas every year to work in a variety of different classrooms. Of this number, approximately 90% will have never worked in any kind of teaching role before.

How do I teach English without knowing my student's language?

Wherever you find yourself living and working as an English language teacher, you will most likely teach your students using a method known as total immersion, whereby no other language is used in the classroom besides English. As most learners are not in a position to move to an English speaking country in order to be surrounded by the language, it is the teacher's job to bring this immersion to the student in the classroom.

How will a TEFL certificate help me in the classroom?

Although experience is not necessary, it is not the case that simply being an English speaker qualifies you to become a language teacher. To be successful in the classroom, a teacher needs to possess a range of specific skills and knowledge that need to be learnt and practiced. By completing a high-quality TEFL certification course before you start your first teaching job, you will gain all the specialist skills you need, such as lesson planning, grammar awareness and classroom management. Once TEFL certified, you will be able to confidently apply for a wide range of jobs in countries all over the world.

Do I need a degree to teach English abroad?

If you have a four year college degree, the world really is your oyster when it comes to teaching English abroad. For those without a degree the options are more limited but it is by no means impossible.

Where do you need a degree to teach English abroad?

In recent years some of the traditional hot spots for EFL teaching have tightened their visa restrictions to include the requirement of holding a formal degree. Developed Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan generally require a degree to secure a work visa, whilst the lucrative markets of the Middle East are also hard to access without formal qualifications. However, the good news is that there are still plenty of options around the world for non-degree holders who are flexible and willing to go the extra mile to secure their dream job.

Why do TEFL employers require a degree in some areas?

Although some countries have a legal requirement for teachers to hold a degree, in many others it is simply down to the individual employer to set their own standards. In many of the most popular destinations the competition for jobs is so fierce that employers can set the bar as high as they like, making it difficult for non-degree holders. But do not despair as there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of landing a job.

How can I improve my TEFL job prospects if I don't have a degree?

Possibly the most important thing you can do to make yourself more employable is to complete an internationally recognized TEFL certification course. With a TEFL certificate in hand, you are able to show an employer that you have received some level of instruction in language teaching. The time and expense you have put into the course will also demonstrate your commitment to your new teaching career. Another great way to improve your employment options is to gain some teaching experience to put in your CV/resume. A short stint volunteering at a local language center or teaching private lessons to individuals in your community will go a long way when looking for paid work.

Where should I look for TEFL jobs if I don't have a degree?

Even with a TEFL certificate and some classroom experience you may still need to be a bit flexible when choosing where you would like to work. There are many fascinating countries around the world that are open to employing teachers without a degree. Latin America, Southeast Asia and much of Eastern Europe are all good places to start your search, and if you are in the country and available for an interview in person your chances of landing a job are extremely high. While it is true that a degree does give you more options in the international teaching market, having a TEFL certification and a strong desire to teach English abroad can also be all you need to start an exciting new career as an EFL teacher.

Do TEFL teachers need a second language?

The simple answer is no, you do not need to have any knowledge or experience of languages other than English to take a TEFL course or to become an EFL teacher. The ability to speak other languages is not required as the vast majority of TEFL classrooms around the world rely on the communicative approach to English teaching that specifies that English is the only language used in the classroom.

How can I teach English if I don't speak the student's language?

In multilingual classrooms where the students could have a dozen or more different first languages, being able to communicate in one or two of them would obviously be of no particular advantage. In monolingual classrooms you may also find that students are more inclined to revert to their mother tongue during the lesson if they are aware that the teacher can understand what is being said. Whatever the classroom environment, one of the basic principles of EFL teaching is for students to only communicate in English, from the very beginning to the very end of every lesson.

Does it help if a teacher has learnt a foreign language?

Although it is not necessary to speak other languages to be an effective EFL teacher, there are certainly advantages to having some experience in learning and using a foreign language. Firstly, it allows you to experience what it is like to be a language learner, which should help you to empathize with your students and therefore improve the effectiveness of your lessons. It can also change the way you look at your own language and can lead to a greater understanding of the fundamentals of English such as grammar structures etc.

Should I learn the local language while teaching English abroad?

If you find yourself living and working in a foreign country you are more than likely to pick up the local language to some degree during your stay. Being able to communicate with the local people can certainly make your life much easier on a day to day basis, and it can also significantly enhance your overall experience of teaching English abroad. However, as long as you have completed a good quality TEFL course and therefore learnt the skills and techniques needed to plan and deliver effective lessons, knowledge of the local language is by no means essential.

Are there any age limits for TEFL teaching?

The good news is that there is no real age restriction on who can take a TEFL course and then go on to teach English abroad. At ITTT we do require you to be at least 18 years old to enroll in our courses but there are certainly no upper age limits. Over the years we have successfully trained people of all ages, many of whom have gone on to have successful careers as English language teachers. As long as you are a native or near-native English speaker who is keen to learn new skills and is open to new ideas, then your age should be no barrier to your success.

Can older teachers find jobs teaching English abroad?

Although a large number of new TEFL graduates are in their 20s, it doesn't mean they are always the most sought after by employers. Yes, there are many employers around the world who are only interested in recruiting younger teachers for various different reasons. However, there are plenty of situations where more mature teachers are equally popular. If you have any previous experience in teaching or training related employment, then you will have little problem landing a teaching job. In fact, simply having plenty of general life experience can often go in your favor. One factor worth remembering is that roughly half of all EFL classes are for adult language learners, with the business English sector being one of the fastest growing. Many employers in these areas prefer their teachers to be more mature to help create a good rapport in the classroom, whilst any history in the world of business will also go strongly in your favor.

Are some regions better than others for older EFL teachers?

Age can be an issue in certain countries where visa requirements include an upper age restriction. When choosing where to teach it is advisable to thoroughly research any visa or work permit restrictions that may apply to your age range. A certain level of flexibility in where you look for work will also help you to find the right job. Certain regions are more likely to offer opportunities for all ages, with Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East all being particularly good areas to explore.

How can I level the playing field as an older EFL teacher?

When looking to teach English abroad it is worth noting that more than half the jobs available worldwide require candidates to conduct an interview in person. This creates a great opportunity for teachers of all ages, as you get to meet the employer in person and show them that you are fit, healthy and professional in your approach, regardless of the age on your passport. The bottom line is, if you are keen to teach English abroad then there are jobs out there for everyone.

Can I teach English abroad if I have children?

It is certainly possible to travel overseas and work as an English language teacher if you have children. However, there are several things to consider before deciding whether it is the right option for you and your family.

What are the financial implications of teaching English abroad with children?

Wherever you are in the world raising children can be an expensive proposition, so before you head off to teach English abroad you need to be sure that it is financially viable. As pay levels vary greatly from one region to the next, where you plan to teach is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. Europe and Latin America are both very popular destinations for ESL teachers, but it is not easy to earn enough to support more than one person in these regions. In contrast, across Asia there are several countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan where a mix of high salaries and a lower cost of living make it possible to comfortably support a child on a single teacher's pay.

What options do I have for my children's education?

If your child is preschool age you will need to consider the cost of daycare or the services of a nanny while you are at work. Once again, these are likely to be much more affordable in Asia than in Europe. Those with school age children also need to thoroughly research the options available in the country they are heading for. In some it is feasible to enroll a child in a local public school, while in others it is not. If it is possible to enroll your child in a local school, you still need to consider whether it is a suitable environment. Those who speak the local language should find it relatively easy to adapt, however, for most children it will mean rapidly learning the language in order to fit into unfamiliar surroundings. This might be realistic for young children who often find it easy to pick up a foreign language, but for teenagers it could be much more difficult. In countries where local schools are not an option, a British or American based international school is generally the only alternative. While these offer a high standard of education, the cost is likely to be beyond an average teacher's salary.

What about medical insurance and access to healthcare?

Many of the most affordable destinations for teaching English abroad are in developing nations where local health care options may not be of the standard you are used to back home. However, in many cases local medical facilities are of a good standard and very affordable so it is up to you to research your chosen area. In certain countries it is standard practice to provide health insurance as part of a teacher's contract, and some employers also provide insurance for dependents. If you successfully apply for a job that has you and your family covered, it could make a big difference financially and provide great peace of mind.

What about visas for my children?

If you are able to secure a job that includes a work visa then you should find that your child is eligible for some form of dependent visa. In countries where work visas are hard to secure, teachers often work on a simple tourist visa that needs to be renewed every three months. While this is common practice for many, teachers with children need to check with the authorities to confirm whether their child is eligible to attend public school without a long-term visa.

Is it safe for single women to teach English abroad?

Yes, not only is it safe for women to teach English abroad, it is also extremely popular. Every year there are somewhere in the region of 150,000 women working as ESL teachers in countries all over the world. Of these, the majority will find themselves living in modern, thriving cities across Europe, Asia and Latin America that have a similar level of infrastructure and amenities to what they are used to back home. Whether in Rome, Beijing, or Santiago, new teachers will almost certainly find there is an expat community of English speakers who are more than happy to provide local knowledge and information to help them settle into their new life overseas. Unfortunately, nowhere is 100% safe all of the time, but with a few simple precautions single women can head off to teach English abroad with little need for concern.

Where should I teach English abroad as a single woman?

Before you make a final decision on your destination for teaching English abroad, it is a good idea to do some research to ensure you choose a suitable location. For example, the role of women in society varies across different cultures, as does what is seen as acceptable interaction between the sexes. To decide whether you would feel comfortable living long term in any particular country, it is important to be familiar with the cultural norms so you can make an educated decision. A simple question you can ask yourself is: would I be happy to go to this location on vacation? If so, it is reasonable to assume that you would feel safe living and working there. Bear in mind that most of the biggest markets for ESL teachers are located in peaceful countries with well developed economies, rather than in war-torn and impoverished regions. Once you have decided on a city, the final thing to do before heading off is to research its different neighborhoods to find out which area is best to live in.

Where can I get advice on the local area?

Whatever your choice of destination, you are certain to find other like minded teachers who have also made the decision to live and work abroad. These colleagues can be a great source of local knowledge when finding your feet in your new home, particularly when it comes to staying safe. From how to safely use local transport, to contacting the police and emergency services, your new colleague's knowledge is invaluable. If they suggest there are certain parts of town or particular establishments that are best avoided, it is wise to assume they know what they are talking about. It is not only your new colleagues that will want to look out for you, as most people worldwide are happy to welcome foreign teachers into their communities. By making a conscious effort to engage with local people, you should find that you become accepted into the community and are therefore safer living within it.

What else can I do to stay safe?

Common sense is also an important part of staying safe while living and working abroad. By following a few simple rules you can dramatically reduce the chances of getting into any kind of trouble. Always avoid any areas that are seen as unsafe, particularly at night. When socializing, never accept drinks from strangers, and avoid getting drunk in public. Avoid flaunting any sign of wealth such as jewelry, electronic gadgets, or wads of cash. Finally, be clear on how to contact the police and other emergency services.

Should I teach English abroad?

Whether you are just looking to earn some extra cash during a gap-year or are planning a more serious move into the world of education, teaching English as a foreign language has many benefits. The demand for TEFL qualified teachers is continually growing in many parts of the world and opportunities for making teaching a career are abundant. Also, if you decide that it is time to head back home, there are many directions in which your overseas teaching experience can take you.

Are TEFL teachers in demand in English speaking countries?

Although for many TEFL course graduates the aim is to head overseas to experience living and working in a foreign culture, it is not the only option. Plenty of people use their teaching qualification within their home country as increasing levels of immigration have led to a rapid increase in demand for ESL teachers in English speaking countries, such as Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA. While there are teaching opportunities in most parts of the world, if you are newly qualified and short on experience it might make sense to look at countries that have the strongest demand.

Are TEFL teachers in demand in China?

As it has the world's largest population it is no surprise that China offers the single largest market for foreign English language teachers. However, you should be aware that foreign teachers technically require a degree to qualify for a work permit. While the two big cities of Beijing and Shanghai do tend to adhere to this policy, you will find that the rules are often less strictly enforced in many other areas.

Are TEFL teachers in demand elsewhere in Asia?

Outside of China there are plenty of other countries where there is a strong demand for foreign teachers. Highly developed countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all have a long history of employing large numbers of foreign teachers. There is potential to earn a high salary in all of these locations, although the competition is likely to be stronger and the requirements more stringent than in China. Southeast Asia is another hotbed for those looking to teach English. Although salaries are unlikely to match those of the countries above, the laidback lifestyle and low cost of living is a major plus side for many. The countries with the most numerous opportunities in this region are Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Are TEFL teachers in demand in Europe?

The demand for foreign teachers is generally very high across Europe. Countries such as Italy, France and Spain have been attracting teachers from all over the world for decades. However, you will find that competition is strong for jobs in the most popular areas. In recent years countries further east, such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, have also become more popular as demand has grown rapidly and the cost of living is considerably lower.

Are TEFL teachers in demand in Latin America?

Most countries in Central and South America have some level of demand for foreign teachers and few requirements for experience and qualifications other than a TEFL certificate. Traditional hotspots for employment include Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Costa Rica. In recent years other countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have also seen a steady increase in demand.

Can I make a long-term career out of TEFL?

YES, you absolutely can have a long-term career as an EFL teacher. For the majority of people who head overseas to teach English, it all starts with a small idea to see a bit of the world while earning some money. After a while, many people realise that teaching is something that they enjoy doing and are actually quite good at, so why not continue developing the skills and knowledge needed to make it something more long-term?

What qualifications do I need to make a career out of TEFL?

If you want to teach overseas in the long-term, a TEFL certification is a must. While jobs can be found in some countries without any qualifications, the better paying jobs that offer the best benefits and working conditions will always be out of reach without any teaching credentials on your CV/resume. Once you have a TEFL certificate and have found your feet in the classroom, the next step up the career ladder will generally be made more realistic by adding a higher level qualification to your paperwork, such as a TESOL Diploma or even a teaching related degree.

What other TEFL related jobs are available in the long term?

There are many thousands of people worldwide who originally set off to teach for a year, but found they loved the lifestyle so much that they have carried on teaching in the classroom year after year. However, some teachers find that they want to look at other avenues in the teaching profession that offer greater responsibility, a higher salary, or simply a change from the classroom. Jobs such as teacher training, writing teaching materials, educational consultancy, or various management positions in schools or language centers are all possibilities for a successful career.

What are the benefits of a long-term career in TEFL?

While it is not all about money for many teachers, it is true that you can earn a very good living by teaching English overseas. The hottest destination for teaching salaries is the Middle East where employers in countries such as the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, pay very large salaries that are tax free! Asia also has some great options for earning top dollar, including China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, in order to qualify for positions in these countries you will generally need a university degree and the best paid positions will also require a year or two of classroom experience.

Many of the better paid jobs in these regions also come with extra benefits that can really bump up your income and saving power. Housing is often the most expensive outlay for teachers abroad, but if you have gained the qualifications and experience necessary to land jobs in the hottest regions for teaching then you will often get free accommodation included in your contract. Other typical benefits offered by the top TEFL jobs include airfares in and out of the country, health insurance, signing on and end of contract bonuses, and transport subsidies.

Another well known benefit of teaching is the amount of annual leave that you get as standard. While your friends back home might get up to four weeks vacation a year, most teachers will have two or three times as much paid leave. Some teachers take the time to visit family and friends, while others head off to explore the wider region. With the amount of time you have and the money you should save during term time, there are no limits to where you can go or what you can experience.

What skills will I need to make a career out of TEFL?

Many of the skills you need can be learned during your initial TEFL course, by experience in the classroom, or by taking higher level teaching qualifications. One of the most important skills is written and spoken communication. As a large part of teaching involves talking in front of the class, it is important that you are a confident speaker who is able to be informative and approachable. You also need to be a good listener and know when to take a back seat and let the students do the talking.

How you communicate the subject of the lesson is also a vital skill. As your students are non-native English speakers, you need to use simple sentences and clear instructions to avoid unnecessary confusion in the classroom. Avoid using difficult words that they haven?t learned yet and always speak in a slow clear voice to ensure you get your message across. Cultural sensitivity is also something you need to be aware of. It is important to avoid any subjects that are controversial and to adhere to local customs and culture.

What can I do after teaching English abroad?

Some people who head overseas to teach English grow to love the lifestyle so much that they never return to work in their home country. However, for the majority, the move back home will come at some stage, whether after a single year or much longer. For some it can be a difficult experience as you are no longer the person you were when you first left home. Everything can feel different, from the everyday language to the time zone, from the climate to the cuisine. Reverse culture shock can be genuinely unsettling. One way you can combat this, and continue the international focus of your new found way of life, is to find a job that allows you to use the new skills and knowledge that your time abroad has given you.

Can I carry on teaching English in my home country?

One obvious step for many teachers is to simply continue working as an English language tutor. If you live in or near any relatively large city you are likely to find language schools and community colleges that offer English lessons to foreign students, immigrants or refugees etc. With overseas experience and a TEFL qualification, the chances of finding a suitable job are high. In recent years the demand for online English lessons has really boomed meaning you can also work from home teaching students from all over the world. Some teachers even go on to set up their own language school or online teaching business.

Can I join a non-profit or volunteer organization?

Depending on where your overseas teaching took you, you may have experienced life in environments that are less advantaged than your home country. This personal insight is highly sought after by a wide variety of organizations that work in developing nations across the world. If you have experience working in a diverse, multicultural environment and are keen to give something back to the wider society, this could be a very fulfilling option for you. Many of the skills learnt while teaching abroad are highly transferable which opens up all sorts of possibilities in this field.

Can I work in the travel industry?

If you found that your favourite part of your teaching adventure was the adventure rather than the teaching, you could consider the travel industry. If you wrote a blog during your travels, or simply have a way with words, then travel writing is a career that comes in many different forms. You might have to start off contributing work for free initially, but with hard work and a bit of patience you could well find the perfect job. Another option is to look towards travel agency work. There are plenty of high street and online agencies that are looking for experienced travellers to fill a variety of positions.

Will my cultural awareness & language skills help me find a job?

If you have spent a considerable time in one country you might find opportunities for work with organizations that have a connection to it. Embassies, consulates and international companies are often looking for people who have a good understanding of their culture and experience of living in it. If you also picked up a good standard of the local language during your stay then your options are even greater in this field. Potential opportunities include translation and interpretation, foreign language instruction, support roles for international students, recruitment and many more.

Should I go back to school?

Your time away from home might well have changed the way that you see the world and your future within it. Heading back to education to gain higher qualifications that allow you to widen your job opportunities is certainly a viable option. If teaching is now in your blood, gaining a Masters or Phd in TESOL, linguistics, or something similar will open the door to higher paying education jobs at home or abroad. If you have had enough of teaching, there are plenty of other educational avenues available where your international experience will stand you in good stead.

Can teaching English abroad be a long term career?

It is not unusual for returning teachers to quickly have a rethink and decide that they aren?t ready to stop just yet. Every qualified teacher with previous overseas teaching experience is in a great position to land another job in the country of their choice. You could head back to the familiarity of where you have already been, or even better, try somewhere new that will further broaden your experience and offer a whole new set of adventures. A long-term career in overseas teaching is entirely possible, particularly if you invest in higher level teaching qualifications such as a Diploma in TESOL or a DELTA certification course. Another good option is to use your experience and move into teacher training or writing teaching materials etc.



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