Wouldn’t it be nice to travel the world and get paid for it?
It may sound like a pipe dream, but this is the reality of a TEFL teacher’s life. Basically, you get paid for teaching English abroad.
With English being a global language, there is a demand for it in virtually every part of the world. And where there is demand, there are jobs.
English is a tool that will open doors for so many people, providing them with opportunities that they didn’t have access to before, and, as the English teacher, you’re the person facilitating and supporting that process.
Being a TEFL teacher is an exchange: the door to the world is open for you to set off and explore it, and in return you do the same for others by removing the barrier of the English language.
So, how do you get started? Keep on reading to find out!
Here are our tips on teaching English abroad
1. Figure out a location
First and foremost, you have to narrow down your options. Having the whole world at your disposal can be overwhelming.
The sooner you can pinpoint a general part of the world you’d prefer to get started in, the sooner you can start figuring out what the process is to get set up as an English teacher.
For Europe-based teachers wanting to visit the rest of the continent, this is usually a far simpler process. You can put feelers out for English language assistant programs across Europe, such as with Meddeas, to get started, and then choose whichever you feel is the best fit for you.
Home will always be a short flight away, as will other European countries, giving you the perfect balance of travel and family time during the holidays.
For those that have their hearts set on travelling further afield, platforms such as Teachaway are a lifeline for TEFL teachers, providing current listings of job openings, requirements, and application deadlines in various schools across the globe.
The process for arranging your work visa and organizing flights is usually done with the support of the schools, and many also offer travel stipends to cover the costs of their teacher’s flights.
All that’s left for you to do is brush up on the culture to avoid making any cultural faux pas upon arrival.
2. Do your research about what it takes to teach English abroad
Many schools require TEFL teachers to have a university degree, and teaching English abroad is often appealing to university graduates as an exciting opportunity to gain some life experience.
For that reason, your professors will no doubt know a couple of students either currently working in this field, or who worked in it for a period. Utilize this and ask them to get in touch with those people to see if they’d be willing to answer any of your nagging questions about what to expect.
In the case that you don’t know any TEFL teachers or have no connections to anyone that knows someone you could ask, LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to connect with people in the industry. In the click of a button, you can reach out to various teachers to request their input on your questions or concerns.
For those that aren’t feeling as extroverted, blogs like the ones you can find written by The TEFL Org should cover nearly every query you may have.
3. Learn the local language of where you’re going to teach
The best way to really delve into another culture is to start learning the local language.
Often TEFL teachers can find themselves in an English-speaking bubble in the work environment. For those that want to broaden their social circles and really feel like a local when travelling, getting to grips with a basic level of the native language can lead to new friendships, as well as make everyday life run a little smoother.
There’s nothing like being able to order something in a restaurant in another language to give you that sense of independence and belonging, simultaneously.
Not only will learning the language help you feel settled, but it will also give you a new insight into what your students experience and feel when learning English as a foreign language.
You’ll be able to empathize more with the anxiety they may feel when pronouncing, but also better understand the common mistakes your students make due to translating their language into yours when trying to speak. Understanding these errors means you’ll be able to draw comparisons between how certain things in English are expressed differently to their language, ultimately making you more knowledgeable as a TEFL teacher.
4. Share your experiences of teaching English abroad
Once you’ve become a seasoned teacher, the best way to move on to new adventures in different parts of the world is to talk to other TEFL teachers about where they’ve been and taught.
Straight from the horse’s mouth is where you’ll get the most honest and useful information on the places you should absolutely check out, and more importantly, where not to go.
Your fellow TEFL teachers have no ulterior motives. They’re floating around on their own travels, and you’re helping them as much as they’re helping you to continue doing so in the best and most informed way possible.
Thinking back to the beginning of your journey where you researched and read other teachers’ blogs, once you’ve gained some of your own experience, there’s no reason not to share your own tips and advice to inspire and help others by starting your own. The industry is constantly evolving, new resources are always being developed, but TEFL teaching has always remained a community of people willing to share ideas and help one another.
You can also share some articles about how to get an experience like volunteering. Go that one step further to keep the cycle of content TEFL teachers scattered across the globe in motion.
You all share the same passion: travelling.
With the knowledge of these four main steps now under your belt, the last part of the process is to get qualified. Obtaining your TEFL Certification is your ticket to the first of many adventures you’ll have as a TEFL teacher.
The TEFL companies will support you with all the information and resources you need to join the industry, and then the rest is up to you.
Be that a 2-hour flight, or 16 hours, the beauty of teaching English abroad is that you get to decide where in the world it takes you.