How To Teach English Abroad

It can be a little intimidating when you first start looking into teaching English abroad. Potentially, you’ll be travelling halfway across the world to try something you might never have done before.

What if the job is a scam, or the accommodation falls through? What if you can’t teach English or you hate it?

These are real concerns.

In this article, I hope to arm you with the information you need to decide if TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign language) is right for you, and hopefully allay some of your fears.

If you are lucky enough to be born an English native, you are pretty much qualified to teach English abroad.

The first step is probably to decide where you want to teach in the world. Pretty much most of Asia need teachers, as do most countries in Europe. South America is particularly popular for US teachers.

Pick an area or country and then check the work visas. Most Asian countries require you do have a college degree in any subject and a form of TEFL certificate. For Brits teaching in Europe, it’s not a requirement but degrees are generally needed for other nationalities getting work visas to teach.

At present, it doesn’t matter if it’s online or a classroom-based TEFL course you’ve graduated from, there are no visa restriction (that I am aware of) but it’s always good to check such things for yourself.

Once you have an idea of the actual requirements, you’ll need to decide which type of TEFL training is going to best fit your needs.

There is no doubt about it, a 4-week classroom based course is the best way to learn to teach English. We offer a great online course but the reality is, having constant contact with trainers and sharing the learning experience with other students, as you do on the classroom courses is optimal.

However, not everyone can afford 4-week courses, that normally cost £1000-1500, or perhaps can afford them but just don’t want to spend that much. A lot of people get into TEFL and plan to teach 1 school year (8-9 months) and have fun, not make a career out of it.

Now, in terms of TEFL courses, there are no accrediting bodies. There’s CELTA, that’s like the Mercedes of TEFL courses.

They are held to the highest standard and if you were going to do a classroom-based course I would definitely recommend you look at CELTA courses. They can be found in most countries in the world if you can afford it.

Other than CELTA, there are some accreditations, like Ofqual a British accreditation but the truth is, it doesn’t mean anything. We sold 13,000 courses and had teachers in schools all around the world before we got our courses accredited. We only did that to sell more courses, the course didn’t change.

You want a course that’s either CELTA or that has good reviews. The TEFL world is pretty good at sharing information, there are a load of Facebook groups, including this one which we help run join

These are the course types you have to choose from:

CELTA courses
TEFL classroom courses
Online TEFL course
Weekend TEFL course

The weekend TEFL course might not be enough for your work visa. It’s a 20 hour TEFL course and it used to be widely accepted but some countries changed their regulations to stipulate a minimum of 100 hours, which all the other course types would meet. It’s definitely worth checking.

Once you’ve decided where you want to go teach, and you’ve picked and graduated from your TEFL course, next it’s about finding a TEFL job.

TEFL.com is a good place to start, or Dave’s ESL Cafe. There are a lot of FB groups that allow job posting. Another option is to go the agency route and use recruiters. They aren’t allowed to charge you, they make their money from the school when they place you.

With schools and TEFL recruiters, you have to do your homework too. 99% are respectable but you do hear of the odd scam here or there so it’s always a good idea to check online, especially China which offers some of the very best experiences, and some of the worst nightmares.

Most TEFL jobs have interviews online, using Skype. You might be asked to prepare some pre-interview tasks, like create a lesson plan. That’s completely normal and don’t worry, everyone knows you are a new teacher, they have realistic expectations from your pre-tasks, they are just checking you have a good grasp of the basics. Wondering where to teach? Check out our list of the best places to teach english abroad.

Most schools help to organize accommodation for their teachers. Some schools buy their own houses and you live in a house with other English teachers, or they buy or rent flats for you, furnish them so you don’t have any of them to worry about.

If they don’t offer accommodation, it will be because it’s a more qualified role in a city, or part-time hours etc, but they are normally pretty clear in the advert.

I’ve taught is 7 different countries and I’ve never been to a school where the students weren’t super helpful. Most of the schools themselves are supportive, and usually, other teachers will help you get settled.

You’ll want to check if the school uses a specific methodology if they follow a syllabus or course book. I have worked at schools that like to use a specific course book so lesson prep is 5-10 minutes, maybe a little longer when you’re new. Or you might be asked to create your own plan and prepare your own lessons which will have a much bigger impact on your time.

TEFL is one of the most rewarding things you can do. For a lot of people, it takes you out of your comfort zone, you get to travel and meet new people who are really interested in you and getting to know you. Experience new cultures, and essentially you get paid to help people.

What’s not to love.

Starting TEFL is really easy, you just need to decide where you want to go and how much you want to spend on training, or how well prepared you want to be. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Get feedback from of TEFL teachers, when you can. Just do little checks to make sure there’s nothing bad written about the school or the recruiter you decided to go with, but chances are you’ll have a great time.

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