TEFL. You might have seen this acronym popping up on social media every now and again. You might have heard people talking about it over the last few months, or even years. Maybe your cousin Jason and your neighbour Tina have even taken the plunge and are now involved in TEFL. But do you actually know what TEFL is and why it is so popular?
What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. If you are a TEFL teacher you teach English to learners who don’t speak English as a first language. They are learning English as a second or even third or fourth language; a foreign language, so to speak.
Why is there such a huge demand for English lessons? Well, English is an international language, with it being used for business, academia, tourism and the media. In fact, the British Council estimates that there are currently 2 billion English language learners around the world. This means that there is a gigantic demand for English teachers at the moment all over the world.
TEFL is an industry that is booming right now, while many others aren’t. This is why more and more people are turning to TEFL for jobs – not to mention the amazing life experiences and earning potential it gives you.
Where can I teach English as a Foreign Language?
TEFL teachers can work in most countries around the world, even in English-speaking countries. They teach in primary schools and high schools, kindergartens, universities, language schools and even in companies. They teach General English, English for Academic Purposes, English for Specific Purposes (such as Nursing or Aviation), English for Exams, Business English and also other subjects like Science and History. They also teach online.
Why is TEFL so popular?
One word: flexibility. Who wouldn’t want a lifestyle that allows you to travel to your heart’s content and earn a living while you’re doing it?
TEFL is an easy way to earn money and travel the world. The TEFL certificate is a relatively quick qualification to get, and once you’ve got that you’re A for away. You can choose where you want to live and work and then apply for jobs in that country. When you want to move on, you simply find a job in another country and start afresh again.
Or you can teach English online, which means you can live anywhere in the world and work from your laptop. Alternatively, you can stay at home and earn money from your home office. TEFL is a very flexible career and this flexibility is what makes it attractive to so many people.
But will I earn money?
Ah, the all-important question. Luckily, the answer is a big, fat yes. Being a TEFL teacher is a legitimate job, and as a TEFL teacher, you might even earn more money than in your current job! As a TEFL teacher, you could earn an hourly rate or a monthly rate, depending on if you are working in a language school or another institution. While certain countries are known for offering better salaries or nicer packages, other countries might not pay as much but their cost of living is lower, so it’s all relative.
If you teach English online, you usually get paid an hourly rate, and how much you earn depends on how much you work – which is up to you. The added bonus of teaching online is that you save on other costs like commuting. And if you teach online as an independent teacher, you can set your own rate so you can work and earn as much as you want.
Can I be a TEFL teacher?
Probably. If you are a native speaker of English or if your English is at an advanced level, and you have a TEFL certificate, then you can be a TEFL teacher. Some countries require you to have a Bachelor’s degree as well (in any field) but not all of them. Some may also have other requirements, but this differs from country to country. It can be something as simple as having a clean criminal record or passing a medical test. Be sure to check the requirements for the country you are interested in teaching in before you apply for jobs there.
How can I be a TEFL teacher?
All you need to do is sign up for a TEFL course. TEFL courses are generally 120 hours or longer (don’t do anything shorter!), and you can do them online or face-to-face or a combination of both. If you do an online course, it’s a good idea to do a practical component as well, so you can put your teaching skills to the test in the classroom. This can even be done online; any practice with students is beneficial to you.
A word of warning, though. Make sure you do your due diligence before signing up for a TEFL course. Make sure the course provider is a reputable company, with legitimate accreditation and a good reputation. It’s important that your TEFL course is a good one because this is what is going to teach you everything about teaching English as a Foreign Language.
The TEFL course will give you an overview of English grammar and vocabulary. It will give you an understanding of the different skills involved in reading, writing, speaking and understanding the language. It will introduce you to the different teaching methodologies and techniques that are used in the EFL classroom. It will show you how to lesson plan and do assessments. It will help you with classroom management skills and discipline strategies.
It might seem like a short course, but any TEFL course worth its salt is comprehensive and challenging, to make sure you are fully prepared to set foot in the classroom.
The good news is that these days it’s very easy to check up on the TEFL course provider you want to sign up with; a simple Google search should tell you everything you need to know.
That’s it. Sign up for a TEFL course and get cracking. Get your TEFL certificate and start applying for jobs. Soon you could be packing your bags for South Korea or Argentina or Italy or…