How to Teach English and Experience the World
Are you yearning for a change? A break from the dull, repetitive routine that you’ve found yourself stuck in? Are you on the daily grind, saving up for that short annual excursion to a crowded beach resort? If only there was a way to explore what the world has to offer, gain invaluable experience, all while getting paid for it…
Oh, wait, there is: you can teach English as a foreign language!
For a while now, people of all ages have travelled overseas to teach English. There are an abundance of reasons why: to experience other cultures, fund globetrotting, gap years, a pause on life back home, a love of teaching itself – the list goes on; but how exactly do you go about starting life as a TEFLer?
Well, below is a brief guide on how to train, qualify, and begin your TEFL career. Read on, and I hope you enjoy it.
Once upon a time, it wasn’t uncommon for plucky travellers to land work fairly easily with little to no training. However, as the industry has grown so have standards risen – and rightly so. Now, it is highly recommended that those considering becoming a teacher gain some qualifications. Without, you would be at a massive disadvantage when up against competing job applicants, most of whom will likely hold qualifications themselves. So, how do you go about getting qualified?
Finding the right course
The best way to get qualified is by completing a teacher training course and obtaining a TEFL/TESOL certificate from an accredited provider. There is a tonne of companies out there, each offering their own courses. The more hours a course has the more attractive it is to employers because it suggests more training and understanding.
So, the ‘standard’ number of training hours is around 120. I say ‘standard’ because 120 hours is what is most frequently demanded by employers. Saying that requirements can differ massively from school to school so it’s difficult to say what the best number of training hours is. Usually, 120 hours is recommended because it balances cost with a decent level of training. If you want to teach English abroad then getting the best qualification, at a reasonable price, is paramount.
This is all simple, right? More hours the better, right? Well, that’s correct, but it isn’t the whole picture…
The most important thing to bear in mind when picking a provider is accreditation. Since there is no single governing body in the industry, a trustworthy and worthwhile company will seek endorsement from relevant educational organisations. Check on the company’s website for information on any accreditation, or get in contact with them if you can’t find it. If no accreditation is shown then it would be advisable to move on.
There is quite a wide price range among providers, and variables such as hours can affect the price, so pinning down an average price is difficult. The TEFL Org’s most popular course, for example, is their 120-hour Premier Online course which costs $575 AUD or $509USD. However, their larger courses increase in price – it’s all about finding the right balance for you.
With so many businesses and options with varying levels of quality around, it can be all too easy to fall for scammy courses. Websites that offer unbelievable and unrealistic prices compared to the majority of companies fall into this category. Those advertised on Groupon, for example, are sold extremely cheaply. Unfortunately, they are unaccredited and unrecognized by employers – you get what you pay for.
Do you need a degree?
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there regarding degrees. The truth isn’t exactly straightforward. Thanks to various government policies and employer demands, it can be tricky to untangle facts from fiction.
Some countries where bachelor’s degrees are needed to obtain visas:
- South Korea
- Japan (is possible to find work on a working holiday visa)
- The UAE
On top of that, some employers will ask applicants to have a degree.
So, degrees are far from compulsory but certainly wouldn’t harm your job prospects. The most important qualification you can possess is a TEFL certificate; an employer is far more likely to require a TEFL certificate (whether that be 120-hour, 140-hour, or even CELTA) than a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes both are listed as requirements, but very rarely will a degree be the sole criterion.
Other costs to consider
Naturally, things like rent, groceries, bills are different from one country to the next – from one city to the next, even – and so a bit of research should be carried out prior to moving. A good site to use is Numbeo – I use it all the time when researching for posts.
Obviously, there are a couple of general rules of thumb: cities are more expensive than rural areas and developing countries are more affordable than developed. These are very generalized statements, so please do some research before setting off.
Important: make sure to bring enough money to survive at least a month i.e. the period before your first payday!
The cost of a flight or whatever mode of transport you plan to use will probably lead to a bit of a dent in your wallet. Some employers do offer benefits packages that will include flight reimbursement or something along those lines, and lucky you if that is the case. However, it is more common to be left on your own here, so make sure you have enough saved up. Avoid booking during peak vacationing season.
Again, visa costs vary from one country to the next. EU citizens staying in the Union don’t really have to worry about this, but other than that, it’s important to research beforehand. Some employers will offer to sort out the whole thing, which is great. However, this isn’t always the case so go onto the respective government’s relevant page to learn more.
There you have it: the brief, but definitive guide on kickstarting your TEFL career. The main points:
- train with an accredited TEFL course provider;
- the more accreditation the provider has and the more hours you have under your belt improve your job prospects.
- degrees are not as important as TEFL certificates;
- research costs and save up a bit of money beforehand.
Good luck and bon voyage!