Everyone will say for a native speaker of English the easy thing to do is an online TEFL course and start applying. This is a possible avenue, but increasingly schools are looking for in class teaching experience before they consider hiring someone. Which is fair enough, there has to be a certain standard set!
Let us take you through what the job is, how to look for the right training, figuring out the best place to go and looking for a job.
What is an ESL Teacher?
ESL stands for English as a Second Language, you may also see and refer to it as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). This job is great for travellers and for those who have always wanted to teach, or even teachers looking for a break in their career and want to travel.
You can be native speaking or non native, but there are a lot of schools who ask specifically for native speaking teachers. This is of course inherently wrong, but we have known some English teachers to come across the issue, so its best to be aware and prepared.
Although we’re talking about teaching English, it is also the case that international schools also want teachers to teach a whole array of languages, which could work in your favour too.
The job entails teaching English to anybody. It can be small children, teenagers, adults and even going into businesses or private homes. Depending on what your preference is, you can teach adults or kids, or both.
There will normally be a workbook you are working from, you’ll be expected to do lesson planning too which will take up a chunk of your time. Don’t be under any illusions, if you have a full time job in a school it can be extremely long hours.
You might also choose to teach online while you travel or you could build up a client base in a city and teach privately but that normally takes a while to set up.
Who Can’t Be A Teacher?
This is a dud question really, as the answer is anyone can be one but some common worries are too old, no degree, no money and generally worried about not being a good teacher.
We are older travellers and there is no age limit, we even know teachers in their 50s upwards who are living abroad and doing the same thing we are. Only one of us has a degree, but the other took a CELTA course (Cambridge certified) which makes a massive difference to our employability.
After doing other types of seasonal work and travelling we had little to no money to get started, but we’re slowly starting to save and some schools will even pay for your flights. Finally, one of us is also a massive worry wart and thought teaching was not our thing, but it turns out we actually have a knack for it!
You do have to watch with a lack of a degree, there are a lot of countries that you won’t be able to obtain a visa for. Do not fall foul of working for a Chinese school without a degree – that is NOT legal and we see jobs advertised like that a lot.
Do your research.
There are lots of courses, especially online ones that try to entice you in with cheap offers, but please check it out before you buy a course.
All programs teach the following: conversational English, grammar, reading, listening comprehension, writing, and vocabulary and ideally you want one with in-class training which you can do over Skype if it’s online or in person.
If you’re at home, thinking about getting a teaching credential before you travel then look up places nearby who teach CELTA or a TESOL programme. Local language schools and colleges usually run them, and in the UK expect the cost to be around £1000.
Although a good course costs quite a bit initially, when you start earning you’ll see it was worth it in what you can make back. There are also places that do packages that involve an intensive course with a teaching placement.
Companies like i-to-i TEFL are legitimate and run interesting programmes for newbies. For those with a degree then English First are a good choice to go through too, they pay for your relocation to China and do the training with you before giving you a job.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Whether you go to a class, get a placement or study online you will find something to suit you and and your budget.
Where In the World Can You Teach English?
Everywhere, even in Britain, Canada etc as there are international schools for expats in every country. If we wanted to teach at home in Scotland, then hypothetically speaking we could, but as it’s our aim to travel we want to take the job all over the world.
If you have a degree and the teaching qualification then spin a globe and point to where you go next! The most highly paid jobs usually come after at least a year or two’s experience and you’ll find South Korea, Hong Kong, UAE and Japan are all worth seeking out, especially if you can teach in private schools.
Like us if you only have certain credentials it is more limited. Since we are EU citizens then anywhere in Europe is OK for us, and it gives us the chance to explore Europe slowly and at our own pace. We can also use this time to look into doing an Open University degree and any other training online (a photography course, etc).
Often it’s just a case of finding your first year of experience and then choosing wherever you like after that.
The Job Hunt
Looking for jobs is often the most arduous part of the process, it can feel like a full time job just looking for a job. While we were working as au pair’s in Italy we spent every night applying for jobs to get enough interviews together to make an informed decision about where we go next.
These are the best websites out there:
Teach Away; They have a fantastic Jobs Board, especially if you’re looking for online work.
Dave’s ESL Cafe; Who knows who Dave is but his website has been helping teachers find jobs for years, plus you can submit your CV and watch the interviews roll in.
Search Associates; This is great for private international schools, where you can earn a very decent salary.
Season Workers; This website has been so helpful to us in finding jobs!
We hope this helps, if you want anymore first hand knowledge then feel free to get in contact with us!