Whether you have a passion for teaching or want to travel abroad to discover new cultures, teaching English as a foreign language might be the perfect career choice for you. Since fluency in English is the main essential requirement for the job, why not think about kick-starting your career in an original way to really stand out from the crowd?
What Is It?
Teaching English means a bit more than just classroom experience. It involves a particular methodology designed for and targeted at a specific audience. If the plethora of acronyms in teaching confuses you, here’s a helpful guide:
- ELT – English Language Teaching; a widely-used teacher-centred term describing the overall teaching practice and methodology
- TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language; refers to teaching adults or children whose first language is not English but who choose to learn it for various purposes
- TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages; often involves the same thing as TEFL but also describes teaching English to non-English speakers living in an English-speaking country
- TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language; teaching in countries where English has the official status of a second language. The term TEAL (Teaching English as an Additional Language) can also be used in this context.
- ESP – English for Specific Purposes, such as for business, tourism, the banking sector etc.
- EAP – English for Academic Purposes; refers to academic teaching for university study. Many such courses are run by the British Council.
Why Do It?
Teaching English abroad is a fantastic way to get the firsthand teaching experience necessary for a career in education, while the accreditations you will obtain can add to your CV and maximize your chances of getting a job.
Even if you don’t want to become a teacher, teaching English abroad can be extremely useful regardless of your career plans. You can gain valuable transferable skills such as project management or learning a new language, as well as work experience to get your foot in the door of the tough job market.
Before You Start
While the main requirement is proficiency in both written and spoken English, you might need to have additional qualifications depending on what you’re interested in. Think about who and where you would like to teach, whether you want a long-term engagement or just a summer placement, and what sort of skills you would like to develop. Also consider the financial aspects, e.g. paid work or volunteering, or the living costs and employment legislation of you chosen country.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do, start looking at the relevant requirements and courses available for teaching English abroad. Here are some options:
- TEFL courses – offered by TEFL England, these courses vary from a basic 20-hour initial introduction to a complex 130-hour course preparing you for all aspects of teaching.
- CELT – Certificate in English Language Teaching, a 120-130 hour course validated by either University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations or Trinity College London. It is one of the most popular options for teaching English abroad.
- CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults offered by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations at more than 280 centres worldwide. Very useful for teaching English overseas.
- certTESOL – Certificate for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages provided by Trinity College London, another principal training course of a minimum 130 hours on a weekly basis.
- TKT – Teaching Knowledge Test by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. Refers to teaching English to speakers of other languages and it is generally more accessible than CELTA.
- certTEFL – Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, aimed mainly at teachers whose first language is not English. This course is offered by International House.
- DELTA – The Cambridge Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults aimed at experienced English language teachers.
- DipTESOL – The Trinity College London equivalent for the experienced English teachers diploma.
Although different companies expect different qualifications, most employers tend to favour courses of a minimum 100 hours ELT/TESOL input, especially for people looking for long-term commitments.
If you’re interested in short-term work or want less intensive training, look into distance learning, an option offered by some TESOL/TEFL centres. Though such courses are generally shorter and cheaper than others, they are not as widely recognized as longer courses. For more information about the types of courses available, see i-to-i TEFL Courses or English Language Centre (CIC).
After completing a training course, you can start looking for jobs and work on your application. TEFL England provides a free job placement scheme for people enrolled on TEFL courses for vacancies across the globe, which is useful for finding both long-term and short-term opportunities. The British Council is also running its own recruitment scheme for TEFL teachers. Visit their website for more details on the programme, and on TEFL in general.
You can also have a look at the Prospects website for more information about the teaching industry, as well as for a list of vacancy sources.
We Can Help!
Whether you’re confused about choosing the right course or need help with your application, our team of Careers Consultants can offer you guidance and support with your career. Just give us a call on 020 7882 8533 or drop by our office in room WG3 in the Queen’s Building to book an appointment or look through the resources in our Information room.
Raluca – Maria Chereji
2nd Year French and Politics student