Teaching abroad can be an incredible experience, allowing you not only to give back to your new community, but also allowing you to fully immerse yourself in local life and truly live like a local. Gaining another qualification and essential work experience will seem a breeze when you are enjoying spending a few months in a completely new location, learning about their way of life and getting to know your students. There are a few factors that can put people off teaching in a foreign country, and we want to put the rumours to bed and quash the myths.
What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It is most commonly taught abroad, however, ESL (English as a Second Language) is becoming more popular and is often taught in schools and community groups across the UK to help those who may have moved to the United Kingdom with limited English skills.
How much does a TEFL course cost?
This is completely dependent on the course you choose. The most common TEFL course is a 120 hour course which allows the recipient to teach all over the world. The average price for a 120 hour course is £120, but prices may range from £60 to £200. There are various offers on voucher code websites offering huge discounts on TEFL courses, however, these may not cover enough of the syllabus to meet most employers’ needs.
Do I have to earn a qualification before I go abroad?
Not necessarily. Some TEFL courses take place in a foreign country, allowing you to gain more experience by teaching the locals. Some TEFL courses are integrated into a placement, and will therefore mean you can teach right after passing your qualification in another country, for example in Thailand, you may study for a 120 hour TEFL course for a month then be transferred to your placement school immediately after. However, some placements do require you to be fully qualified before travelling to the country for Visa applications and also to ensure you can start teaching immediately.
What age group will I be teaching?
This is completely dependent on the area you are teaching in. In some countries, such as the UAE and Japan, there is a heavy focus on teaching business English and will therefore you would be teaching a lot of adults. In other places, only public schools will require your knowledge, so you would only be teaching children from kindergarten to high school age. In some cases, you would teach English to a mixture of the two, both for pleasure and business purposes.
Will I be paid?
In most cases, yes, you will be paid for teaching English abroad. The wages may vary a lot and in some countries you may receive the local living wage, whereas in others you may be receiving a wage that is far above the local average, therefore allowing you to live a luxury life whilst you teach. The only time you will not get paid is if you choose to teach abroad voluntarily Some places, such as monasteries, only hire volunteer teachers, meaning you get a completely unique experience, however, you will not receive a wage.
Am I skilled enough to teach English abroad?
If you are a native English speaker with good grammar skills, then yes. Most schools will also consider fluent English speakers who have learnt English as a secondary language, as this shows that you have been able to learn the language yourself and transfer those skills over to your students.
Will I have time to explore my surroundings?
Writing lesson plans, marking work, teaching and sometimes even taking part in language lessons yourself may seem like it would take up a lot of your time, leaving you with little spare time and little energy to do anything in. This is false. You will get a lot of time to explore your new local area, go shopping and take part in activities that intrigue you. This may also help you in the classroom by brining local areas and attractions in to help make the English language seem more familiar to your students.
What will the students be like?
There is no guarantee that all of your students will be angels. However, most young students enjoy being taught by a foreign teacher. Most children are enthusiastic about their learning. Be warned that in some cultures, giving an incorrect answer is highly embarrassing and sometimes even frowned upon, especially in countries like China and Japan where there is an increased pressure for children to do well. Encourage your students to take part in classes and build their confidence and they may forget about the added pressure.
Adult learners will be at your classes by choice and therefore will be very eager to learn. Most adult learners will be business people, wanting to learn English in order to trade with English speaking countries. Classes will usually be very small, leading to more one-on-one time, leading to more structured lesson time. Adult learners will be very grateful for your time and will appreciate your skills.
Can I choose which city or town I work in?
You may have a burning desire to visit just one city in a particular country, and that is great if that is the only location available for you to teach English in. However, it may not be possible for you to teach in your desired location. Most TEFL recruitment agencies will work to get you a placement in the town or city you wish to work in, however, applicants must be aware that this may not always be possible and must go into a placement with an open mind.
Teaching English abroad is such a great experience and can be done by almost anyone who speaks fluent English. Learning about a new culture whilst providing knowledge to students both young and old can make for a perfect getaway, even if only for a few months. Emily Ware is a digital content writer for ESLstarter, a TEFL recruitment agency who send fluent and native English speakers all over the world to teach English to speakers of other languages.