Looking for a way to travel after graduation and make a difference in the world at the same time? Look no further than teaching abroad and getting your Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification! For college students majoring in English as a Second Language (ESL), TESL, or TESOL, teaching English abroad is the logical next step after graduation. And if you're not majoring in it, you can still go abroad and teach English. Let’s explore what TEFL/TESOL are, how to get qualified, and getting started.
What is TEFL/TESOL?
TEFL/TESOL refers to teaching English to non-native speakers in a country where English is not the primary language, such as Thailand, India, or South Korea. The end goal is to help students improve their English-language skills for academic, professional, or social purposes. You may also help students learn and understand the culture of English-speaking countries. If you want to become a TEFL/TESOL teacher, you'll first need to get qualified.
How to qualify to teach English abroad
The requirements for teaching English abroad vary depending on the country and type of institution where you plan to teach, but you'll typically need three things:
- Certification: Most countries and institutions require you to have a TEFL certification or TESOL certification. These demonstrate that you have the training and knowledge necessary to teach English to non-native speakers. To obtain your certification, you'll need to take a TEFL/TESOL course.
- English proficiency: You must be a fluent English speaker to qualify as an English teacher. This means you need to possess a high level of fluency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. If you're a non-native teacher, you may be required to prove your English proficiency level to potential employers.
- A bachelor's degree: Some countries and institutions require you to have a bachelor's degree for teaching positions abroad—although the degree can usually be in any field. So if you're not majoring in ESL, don't worry; you should still be able to teach English abroad. Plus, some positions don't require a degree at all.
With these requirements in mind, be sure to research the specific requirements for the country and/or institution where you’re interested in teaching before applying for jobs. This can save you a lot of time and hassle.
Related: What Can You Do With an English Major?
Even if you’re majoring in ESL, in most cases, you’ll still need to get TEFL/TESOL certified. Both TEFL and TESOL certifications are recognized internationally and will qualify you to teach English in a variety of settings. The best part is you don't need to be a native English speaker or have a teaching degree to earn it! Obtaining your TEFL or TESOL certification is a great way to gain valuable teaching skills and improve your own language skills, and there are several ways to go about doing it. You can take an online course, do it in person, or even combine both. Some universities also offer the option to get a TEFL or TESOL certification as part of their curriculum, so keep a lookout for that as well.
You can also choose to do your course abroad. This is a great way to immerse yourself in another culture and meet people from all over the world. It can even enhance your chances of getting a TEFL/TESOL job in that country at the end of it, as you’ll already have established a network there. If you want a guaranteed job at the end of your TEFL course, it might also be worth checking out TEFL internships. These tend to start with a TEFL course and offer guaranteed work after you've completed the certification.
Where to look for courses
To find a TEFL/TESOL course, you can search online for one of the many course providers, or you can visit a dedicated course directory like DoTEFL. Your university may also have a career center that specializes in connecting graduates with teaching opportunities abroad, or you could reach out to your professors for advice and networking opportunities. Once you've completed your course and are certified, you can start applying for jobs. You can apply to language schools directly, use the services of a recruiter, or visit a TEFL/TESOL jobs boards online. There are many countries where English teachers are in high demand, and you could work anywhere from Asia and the Middle East to Latin America and Europe.
Related: A Beginner's Guide to the TOEFL
Who you can teach and what to expect
When it comes to getting your TEFL/TESOL job, once you've settled on a destination, you could find yourself working at language schools, public schools, or private tutoring. As a TEFL/TESOL teacher, you can teach English to students of all ages and proficiency levels. You'll be expected to use a variety of teaching methods, including grammar and vocabulary instruction as well as conversation practice. This can involve using materials such as textbooks, audio and video recordings, and online teaching tools.
The benefits of teaching English abroad
There are many benefits to teaching English abroad, both as an ESL major or someone who has just acquired their certification. Not only will you be able to put your knowledge into practice and gain valuable teaching experience, but you'll also live and work in a new country and make some great memories. Teaching English abroad can be a rewarding and exciting opportunity. It can open doors to new experiences and give you the chance to make a positive impact on the lives of your students, all while exploring the world.
Related: 11 Essential First-Year Teaching Tips
If you're a student looking for an exciting and rewarding way to spend your summer, gap year, or first year out of college, consider obtaining your TEFL or TESOL certification and start your journey as an English teacher abroad. Who knows—you might even make a career out of it!
Check out more articles on pursuing your dream job inside (or outside) a classroom in our Education and Teaching section.