If you’re thinking of embarking on a career to teach English abroad, there are several things you’ll need before you can get going. From qualifications you’ll need to gain and research you’ll need to do, to the questions you should be asking yourself before you make a decision, this article covers the top 5 five things that are needed before you can teach English abroad.
A TEFL Qualification
Gone are the days where you could teach English without a TEFL qualification – even in the most far flung places, most schools will now require you to have some sort of teaching qualification. You don’t need to go all out and pay for a CELTA unless you’re either A. really serious about teaching or B. just want to teach adults. In general, many jobs will still be available if you only have an online qualification. A course of at least 120 hours is recommended, and the better your qualification, the better the jobs you’ll be offered. Also, bear in mind companies that do on-the-job training; for example, many big chain schools in Japan are happy for you to apply without a TEFL certificate.
A Degree and/or Teaching Experience
Again, it used to be the case that you didn’t have to have a university level education to get a teaching job, but now, those positions are few and far between. Even schools that don’t require a TEFL certificate will probably ask for a degree. However, if you don’t have a degree and still want to teach abroad, you can make yourself more hireable by getting experience. Do some volunteer teaching to show that you’re serious, and your lack of degree won’t be such a big hinderance.
Ideas for Games and Activities
When newbie teachers first step into the classroom, they’re often hit with the oh-my-goodness moment where they wonder what on earth they’re doing. A great way to combat this is to do lots of research beforehand on great TEFL games. There are loads of resources online with tips on what games to play with your students, as well as Youtube videos that demonstrate some great activities. Check out great websites like the British Council to pick up some tips about what to do in the classroom. Also, there are a number of books written on the subject. Another way to find out what activities work best is to network on social media or forums to have real time discussions with other teachers. To get you started, here are a few of our top picks that you can research and use in your classroom:
- The Fly Swatter Game
- The Sticky Ball Game
- 20 Questions
- Teacher Says
- Board Race Game
- Word Jumble Race
A Clear Idea of Who/What/Where when you plan to teach English aboard
Your experience of teaching English abroad is going to be different depending on where you go, who you teach and what you teach. Not all teachers are the same – some prefer to work with young children, whereas others would rather just teach adults. These are important things to consider before you even apply for a job. Here are some top questions you should think about as you embark on your TEFL career:
- Do I want to teach kids? How young? Do I want to teach kindergarten or baby classes?
- Do I want to teach teenagers or adults?
- Would I be happy teaching a mix of kids, teens and adults, or do I want to specialise?
- Do I want to work with beginners or with those who are more advanced?
- What level on the CEFR do I most want to teach?
- Can I teach any specialist subjects such as English for pilots, English for doctors or English for businessmen?
- Do I want to teach a structured course or do conversation classes?
- Where do I want to go to teach? Which country? Do I mind?
- Am I happy to be working far away from home?
- Will I be able to settle into a new country, a new culture?
- Do I want to be somewhere with a hot or cold climate?
A Sense of Adventure
Having a sense of adventure is vital when you’re planning to teach English abroad. You may have lived in different places before, but moving abroad to TEFL is a whole different experience. Things might go wrong, but if you have a positive attitude, you’re sure to get the most out of your TEFL experience. See the funny side, and have fun!
Now that you know what the basics are before you get packing, formulate a plan on how to achieve your goals! If you fail to prepare… prepare to fail.