Teaching English as a Foreign Language

What’re you going to do after University?

I used to get scared of that question and I still don’t know the answer! But, right now, teaching abroad works. Currently, I’m headed to Madrid to get more experience as a foreign language teacher. I was there last year being paid 1600 before tax on 20 hours a week. It’s been an incredible experience and is either a career move or a very fun stop-gap. `

If you feel that, after leaving university, you’ll find it tough to get a graduate job. If you’re worried about employment, this vocation is in need of professionals. As a native English Speaker (and other languages are in demand) you will not struggle to succeed as a foreign language teacher.

I don’t think Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is the answer to graduate employment, but it’s a god damn way to get paid, get experience and, most importantly, remain a hedonist.

Teaching might not be for you, sometimes it includes long hours, difficult students, endless bureaucracy and always puts on trial your ability to be patient. But, sticking with it can lead you to a job that’s always available, a way to travel and make a not-immodest income.

Shop around for a course

The best way to start if you have no teaching qualifications is to find a course. The best courses will offer you teaching experience. Others will be just online. There’s no real rule in the TEFL world that says you need experience. I only did an online TEFL qualification and was able to teach after two weeks training by a private company – then they employed me. As easy as that.

So, you can get heavy discounts on sites like groupon for online courses. But I think the most solid step, followed by many, is to get some form of on the job training. If you have some spare cash I’d consider the far more serious CELTA and DELTA programmes. These are elite. If not, an internship similar to the one offered by Hand’s on TEFL. Some companies will offer just to pay you and train you – so shop around.

Where you decide to teach could be a mix of personal preference and cold hard economy. If you have lots of cash after uni, I know some do, then go to a country with a good exchange rate and low cost of living. If you have  no dollar in your pocket, consider going somewhere where you get paid in money worth taking home. It really does vary, some courses will pay you enough so that you’re just living abroad, but searching can yield some well paid opportunities.

If you know a second language it’s worth trotting off to that particular country and brushing up on your skills, language industries are still well paid and worth the investment. Aside from teaching you can try translating, giving tours, or working regular jobs. Honing second languages opens many doors for graduates.

Importantly, you don’t have to know the language in which you are teaching. This is more true for when you’re teaching higher levels. Many TEFL opportunities rely on the applicant not knowing the language, that’s how I got a job offer in China, Spain and Thailand. Students learn better if they can’t use their mother tongue.

As for the short and the sweet, go abroad! Get some experience and have the time of your life! You don’t need to know the language, just get some TEFL qualifications and teaching experience and you’re well on your way.


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