When I first heard about TEFL I was in a pub. I was telling a mate that I planned on travelling round the world. The conversation went a bit like this.
“So what are you gonna do when you’re travelling?” asked Luke.
“I dunno, just travel round, see some stuff, and get pissed.”
“And how much money do you have?”
“A couple of grand.”
“And you want to travel the WORLD?”
“Yeah I know; I’ll get a job in a bar or something.”
“Have you thought about teaching English?”
“Yeah right, how am I gonna be able to teach English?”
“A mate of mine did a course, now he’s in Japan earning a fortune. I think he’s a director of a school.”
The next day, admittedly during my working day at the office, I began researching the world of TEFL. There was a hidden job industry out there, jobs all round the world. Why hadn’t anyone told us about that at school or University? How could I know more about this golden ticket to teach and travel the world?
If this feels similar to you then keep reading. Here are a few definitions and websites to help you.
TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is teaching English to learners, usually in their own countries, whose native language is not English. For example you can teach English to a Spanish student who wants to learn how to read, write and speak English. Remember back to when you were doing you’re GSCEs and you had a miserable French teacher trying to teach you French, well that could be you, but teaching English (and hopefully not miserable).
TEFL can also be known as:
- TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) which is teaching immigrants in English speaking countries.
- TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) which covers TEFL and TEFL.
- EFL (English as a Foreign Language).
It’s all the same; teaching English to students who, in theory, want to learn English.
Where to start?
You need to do a Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults) course. The best employers will only consider a CELTA course, so don’t waste your time if it’s not accredited by Cambridge. The good news is that it’s only for about four or five weeks. The bad news is that it’s a lot of work and you have to pay between £750 and £1200.
Why not do what I did and telephone to a few local language schools and ask if you can observe a lesson for free. I watched a couple of classes with a language academy in London (which went bankrupt a few weeks later) before I committed to a full-time course.
You could also try an online course, just to get a feel for teaching. However, having face to face contact with students is vital if you’re really serious about becoming a TEFL teacher. A lot of employers won’t take you seriously if you haven’t done a full-time course anyway.
I did my course with St Giles International in London. It was a tough four weeks, I didn’t go out much and had to work hard to pass with a decent grade, two of the fifteen dropped out. Take a look at my article on how to pass a CELTA.
Finding a course which suits your timetable, budget, and location can be stressful. Here are a few course websites to help.
Don’t restrict yourself to your home country. There are CELTA course all round the world. A few friends of mine did courses in Spain and Thailand and then found a job straight away after the course. Shop around and find what’s best for you.
Once you’ve passed your CELTA, you’ll have your golden ticket to travel the world and teach English. Whether you’re just looking to do something on your GAP year or possibly a career, I’d definitely recommend the world of TEFL.