If you’re new to TEFL, then also check out our introduction to teaching English abroad with TEFL article!
- How to Teach English in Thailand – The Land of Smiles!
- How to Teach English in China – English Teaching Salaries in China
- Teach English Abroad – Where To Find Teaching Materials?
- How to Teach English in the Middle East – TEFL Teaching Job in the Arab Countries
- How to Teach English in South Korea – TEFL Teaching Jobs in SoKor
More TEFL country guides coming soon!
1. Learn to teach – TEFL certificate / TESOL / CELTA
It’s pretty obvious, but if you want to teach English, it’s probably a good idea to learn a little bit about how to do it, right? There several qualifications available, the two most common being the online TEFL course (60 to 140 hours) and the CELTA.
A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate gives you all the tools and techniques you need to start teaching English to international students. You will receive step-by-step tuition into creating lesson plans as well as a comprehensive review of the English language itself – grammar; vocabulary; writing techniques and more – to ensure you have an adequate foundation of knowledge instruct students. The courses vary from 20 hours to 200 hours, although most good employers specify a minimum of 120 hours.
The CELTA – This is probably the most comprehensive and well-respected English Language Teaching course available. In the UK it’s a three month, classroom-based course which takes you into real teaching practices from day one. The most obvious advantage is that you gain real teaching experience as part of the course. If you’re a ‘non-native speaker,’ or simply want your qualifications to stand from the crowd, then this is the qualification for you.
2. Create an amazing TEFL CV
Whenever you apply for a job at home, you need a Curriculum Vitae, or a Resume, to show your prospective employers and students who you are, what you have done, what you can do for them and how you plan to do it. There are a lot of TEFL teachers out there, so you need to differentiate yourself from all the others. Think about the country you’re going to work in and how that might influence the design and structure of your CV. Even consider having it translated into Spanish or Portuguese – People gravitate towards familiarity and ease, so make it easy for them!
3. Get a fancy TEFL Teacher profile photo!
South America and Asia love headshots on a CV! It’s actually frowned upon in the UK as a form of discrimination, but in many other countries, people like to see what they’re getting for their money. It’s a fact that if you have a professional-looking headshot, you stand a better chance of getting the job over someone without one. No TEFL teacher should be without one. Dress smart, do your hair and look into the camera like you mean business! Need an example? Here’s mine…
4. Choose your Weapons – TEFL UP!
Gather and organise teaching materials, books and video/audio files.
If you decide to be a TEFL teacher in a school or language centre, then all teaching materials will, most likely, be provided for you and you will be expected to create lessons plans in advance of each lesson. If not, or if you are teaching privately, then you will need to provide and create your own materials for your students. It can be extremely time-consuming to create 100% original materials for each class, so I recommend investing in some good textbooks – at least one for each level you plan to teach. You can then build your lesson plans around the syllabus in the book and integrate your own materials, worksheets and games to keep things fun and interesting.
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5. Sell yourself.
How will students know about you? Why should they choose you to be their teacher, rather than someone else?
Again, there are many TEFL teachers out there, some better others, but nevertheless, you need to get your name out there and be seen. Make sure you’re using the internet, social media and old-school marketing to its absolute fullest potential; create your own Facebook page; start a Twitter and Instagram account; host monthly English discussion groups in your house; put posters of your face on peoples’ cars. When it comes to selling yourself, you have to make yourself heard over everyone else, so shout louder than everyone else!
You can also add yourself to websites which are specifically designed to help students and teachers to connect to each other.
6. Build your experience and confidence.
Some people love to jump in head first, and that’s great. Trial by fire, fake it till you make it! If, however, you prefer to ease yourself into your first teaching position and build some confidence at the beginning, then look for volunteering programs for charitable organisations in the area. It’s a much more relaxed way to test your metal in the classroom and try out your lesson plans and terrible teacher jokes. Trust me; it really helps the first time around!International Kids students in Hanoi, Vietnam
7. Build your student base and reputation.
Good publicity travels fast…Bad publicity travels faster! The old saying, ‘Any publicity is good publicity,’ just doesn’t fly in the TEFL teaching world. Often students are spending a large portion of their income to learn English in order to better themselves and their families so that they won’t appreciate scrappy or unplanned lessons and poor quality teaching. If you look after your students, they will look after you. One happy student could recommend you to their friends and family and before you know it your schedule will start to fill up.
Again, be sure to maintain your online presence as this is the primary method used these days for students to find teachers.
Once you have some experience under your belt and you feel like taking your TEFL teaching to the next level, you can start to offer intensive exam preparation courses for international exams, such as TOEFL; IELTS; FCE; PCE and many, many more. Students take these exams for all sorts of reasons, but the most common reasons are work, study and travel and they require teaching and practice that is tailored to their needs, their exam deadline and of course, the exam requirements. I love this type of teaching as you get to sit down with you students and figure out their goals and objectives, then after 1 to 3 months enjoy the feeling of seeing them pass their exams and achieve those goals. It’s a great feeling and makes it feel worthwhile!
Are you ready to change your life by earning money while you travel?
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