Are you an armchair traveller?
Do you follow dreamy travel accounts on Instagram?
Are your tea breaks at work spent daydreaming of where you want to go?
If this is you, then it sounds like you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. It’s okay, many of us have. All it takes is one trip to a gorgeous tropical beach or one hike up a breath-taking mountain and the travel bug can bite you hard.
The problem is, what can you do about it? How can you work your usual 9-to-5 and live the nomad life of your dreams? How can you balance earning a living and living your best life?
And the answer is TEFL.
What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for teaching English as a Foreign Language. TEFL teachers teach English to learners who don’t speak English as their first language; it could be their second or third language. TEFL teachers work in a variety of contexts in both English-speaking countries and non-English-speaking countries. They can teach General English in a language academy, English for Academic Purposes at a university, or Business English in a company. They can teach young children, teens or adults. They can even teach online.
What are the perks of being a TEFL teacher?
The beauty of being a TEFL teacher is the flexibility that it gives you. You can teach English in hundreds of countries around the world, or you can teach it from your laptop. What this means is that you can live wherever you want and earn a good living. You can work the hours you choose, and have the money to spend your free time doing whatever you want. If you are living abroad, this usually means travelling to all the destinations you’ve dreamed of going to. Some of them might only be a few hours away from where you live!
But not only can you design the life you have always wanted, but you can earn money doing it too. If you are teaching abroad, chances are you are earning a good salary, possibly even with allowances for accommodation and flights, and health insurance. In some countries the cost of living is so low that your salary will be able to go even further than you expect, even if it doesn’t seem like much in pounds or dollars. And if you’re teaching online you can choose to live in a country which has a low cost of living to stretch your earnings further.
What do I need to be a TEFL teacher?
To be a TEFL teacher you need to be a native speaker of English or speak English at an Advanced level. Some, but not all, jobs require you to have a Bachelor’s degree, but this can be in any field, not necessarily English or Education. Most jobs prefer you to have a TEFL certificate. There might be a few other requirements depending on which country you want to work in, but generally speaking if you have a TEFL certificate you are eligible to teach English as a Foreign Language.
Why do I need a TEFL certificate?
Remember, just because you can speak English doesn’t mean you can teach English. Teaching takes knowledge and skill. A TEFL course will teach you everything you need to know in order to teach English effectively. It will give you an overview of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and the skills involved in using the language. It will provide you with a background of teaching methodologies and techniques for teaching English as a Foreign Language. It will give you tips and tricks to deal with classroom management. It will teach you how to lesson plan and assess your learners. It will help you deal with any discipline issues that may come up.
When you think of it, when you are standing in front of your class of learners, you will have no-one but yourself to rely on. You will be in charge of the lesson, making all the decisions and using your knowledge to teach to the best of your ability. You want to be as prepared as possible, which is what a TEFL course will do for you.
Which TEFL course should I choose?
Because the TEFL course you choose is important not only for finding a job but also for preparing you to teach, you need to choose your TEFL course provider carefully. Do some research and make sure the course provider is everything they claim to be.
The TEFL course should be at least 120 hours long. It can be a face-to-face course or an online course but it preferably should include a practical component for you to practise your teaching skills. The course provider should be reputable and be accredited by recognised accrediting bodies. They should provide you with support throughout your course and beyond, from professional tutors. They should have good online reviews from previous students.
Even though a course which is 120 hours might not seem very long, any decent TEFL course is comprehensive and challenging. After all, you want your course to be of a high enough standard to prepare you adequately for the classroom.
While choosing a TEFL course might seem tricky, all it takes is a bit of Googling and you should be able to find all the information you need to make an informed decision. Then, when you’ve got your TEFL qualification under your belt, you can apply for jobs in whichever country you choose. And soon you’ll be packing your bags and jetting off to foreign lands. Bon voyage!