What attracts people to TEFL? Perhaps the idea of being able to travel the world while working as an English teacher appeals to many. Others have a passion for teaching and sharing their culture. Whatever the reason may be, is it highly encouraged that you get a TEFL certificate.
A TEFL certification is typically the minimum requirement to teach in a country where English is not the native language. There are countries where you can teach without a TEFL certificate, but having one will set you apart from other candidates and most importantly help you succeed in your classroom. However, there are other criteria one needs to meet and other factors to consider to make you marketable as a teacher.
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What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for “teaching English as a foreign language”, By taking the TEFL course and exam, you’ll show employers that you’re qualified to teach abroad, without needing an actual teaching certificate. With a TEFL degree, you can teach anywhere from Asia to South America. The purpose of the TEFL is to teach you to be a better teacher. You will learn valuable skills related to teaching grammar and vocabulary, lesson planning, teaching materials, and classroom management
I’m Not a Native Speaker
If you are a non-native English speaker, you can teach English. However, you may face more obstacles and limited opportunities. Certain countries will only grant visas to teachers from specific English-speaking countries such as the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Don’t be discouraged, many other countries will hire non-native English speakers. Consider these alternatives. Eastern Europe, Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Peru. You are sure to find other options if you research online.
Read the job requirements carefully for other qualifications needed and research the visa requirements. Finding a job might take longer than you anticipated, but as long as you have the right qualifications which include your TEFL certificate, you can still pursue your TEFL career. Don’t give up and you can always teach in your home country!
Sell Your Skills
If you are worried that you have never taught before, don’t worry, you are not alone.
A majority of people who pursue TEFL have no prior teaching experience. Those who pursue TEFL come from various professional backgrounds from recent college graduates to retired professionals. Having a TEFL certificate will give you an added advantage when applying for jobs. But don’t underestimate the skills you learned at your current or previous jobs.
You’d be surprised at how transferable your work skills are to the teaching context. If you have experience in sales or hospitality, your patience and customer service experience will be valuable skills in the classroom.
When creating your resume, highlight your work skills and explain how those skills are relevant to teaching. Go back to your TEFL course content and ask yourself what skills would I need to succeed in this area? For example, if you choose to review your classroom management materials, think back to your work experience and highlight the skills you have that will help you excel in classroom management. As you reflect on your experience, you’ll realize you’re not as inexperienced as you thought!
Build a Portfolio
Reflecting on your work experience helps you realize that your non-teaching experience can be applied to your future teaching job. You can go a step further and create a teaching portfolio.
If you created teaching materials or lesson plans in your TEFL course, upload your work to Google Drive and include the link on your resume. Start creating your teaching materials and PowerPoint for a variety of levels and topics. Topics can include weather, days of the week, greetings, or how to order food in English. Create demo lessons and record yourself teaching to an imaginary class. These are great ways to show off your teaching talents even if you have no prior teaching experience!
Cultivate your skills
Having a TEFL certificate qualifies you for teaching jobs. Your skills and personality can help you land the job. But to develop into a seasoned teacher and grow professionally, you need to keep learning and cultivating your skills. If your lesson did not go as planned, ask yourself why and make adjustments. Experiment with new teaching techniques, research ideas online, join a group on Facebook or Linkedin and ask fellow teachers at your school. Your efforts and growth may one day qualify you for higher-paying jobs!
Do you need a TEFL certificate to teach abroad? Unless you have a specific country you want to teach in, the answer is no. However, if you want to feel confident, make more money and improve your chances of finding a quality position, invest in your future by getting a TEFL certificate.