Eight great reasons to get into teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL)!
I started teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), completely by chance. I started out as a teaching assistant in Spain in 2013 and at the time, I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy it and how it would change my life’s course. Teaching is not for the faint hearted and TEFL is not for a person who would easily give up.
Where to start?
There are a wide variety of TEFL jobs out there; Conversation Assistant, English Assistant, TEFL Classroom Teacher, Foreign Language Teacher at a training centre (some focus on grammar and others on application), as well as a great range of qualified teaching jobs in international schools. The chance of securing employment is high, the chance of loving it is 50/50. I enjoy the challenge of teaching and observing the immediate impact and development on the children’s learning in the classroom and so TEFL/TEAL/TESOL suits me.
I started Teaching in Spain before moving on to Italy and China, within a four year period. I have also taught at summer camps in England. Spain is my preferred country of choice, specifically because of the language, environment and laid-back vibe. I have worked in Galicia and in Andalucía; both were fun for different reasons.
Europe and Asia
Being abroad teaching under different rules, school values and teaching children of different cultures has its challenges, but meeting inspiring teachers, who have since become good friends has supported me in refining my role and made my experiences more enjoyable. Spain is somewhere that I would recommend starting out if you are considering TEFL. Starting as a Conversation Assistant would be a good foundation for understanding the teaching values in Spain as well as developing ideas on the delivery of teaching English and ideas of pedagogy. The Spanish are also keen to build lives and not just make a living, this is a good place to enjoy a fulfilled social life.
China in my experience was a whirlwind of internationalism, a technical sounding language to be immersed in, a variety of people, and a mixed training school that had lots of up and downs and miscommunication, but again some fun could be had with the children, whom were taught grammar through activities and games. There are huge opportunities in China, on reflection, I do wish that I had capitalised on this more. Opportunities include tutoring, writing formal language books and becoming a classroom teacher or a school manager in a “smaller city” (their city sizes are very different to UK city sizes).
Search international teaching jobs now.
EFL, TEFL, ESOL, EAL and any other English as a language acronym can become confusing but you do need one of these certificates to start. I’d encourage you visit CELTA to obtain the required qualifications. CELTA was my passport to opening certain doorways and even when I was unsuccessful in the application process, I would often be passed on sister schools to be interviewed and considered for employment.
My advice would be to give EFL, TEFL, ESOL, EAL a try, bring your personality into the classroom, build relationships and enjoy the experience. Some friends that I have met along the way, have progressed to becoming Social Workers, Classroom Teacher’s and Life Coaches. Whatever you do within English as a second language, find your passion, study it and run with it. Go as far as it will take you. Believe me it can take you places and introduce you to people that will excite your senses.
At present I teach in a lovely secondary school within TEFL. I teach numeracy to children with special educational needs, and I love what I do.
So here are eight reasons why to TEFL abroad:
- Satisfaction of seeing a child from another country, language and culture grasp English as a second language. You taught them that, whether it be pronouns, conditionals or just how to structure a text for business.
- We are teaching the future generation and the melting pot of the world. Not many people can say that they have made a difference (hopefully a positive one), with people abroad.
- We learn to adapt; emotionally; building and maintaining new relationships and sustaining long distance relationships, and physically; adjusting to climate changes and physical environments. I also enjoy picking up the habits of other cultures; for example, in China they drink hot water when it’s cold. I’ve also picked up some fun food recipes from Spain; tortillas.
- Your skills in Maths will develop rapidly; converting currency is a daily occurrence to check that your purchase is a bargain.
- Enjoy the difference in cultures; use this great opportunity to learn from natives and hear about new life perspectives.
- Be warned, you may leave your heart out there! A few friends and I have spoken about leaving pieces of our hearts across the world. It hurts to say goodbye, but you can hold onto the wonderful memories made with new friends, in new places. Also, there is potentially a spare room to stay in, should you wish to visit again.
- It can be a stepping stone. EFL abroad can open opportunities to other jobs; Writing a book, becoming a manager, furthering your education and much more.
- Lastly but by no means least; You travel far and wide, you learn so much about yourself, you learn about other people, their cultures, values and beliefs. You visit weird and wonderful places, and this will make you feel alive.
So why not Teach English as a foreign language, you have nothing to lose but perhaps everything to gain. Watch the eTeach videos on teaching internationally.
About the author
Kirah is an open and honest young woman, who by chance, found her feet in Spain after one year of teaching English. Kirah says she has not looked back since. Kirah studied abroad and has completed a degree in Psychology. Kirah has travelled to China and parts of Europe. Kirah is originally from Caribbean and so travelling is not a new hobby for her, however, she uses her experiences encourage her students to be their best self, travel far and wide and to keep learning along the way. Kirah is currently a ‘Raising Achievement Assistant’ in a secondary school within the UK, this role allows Kirah to work within two fields that she is extremely passionate about; TEFL and children with autism.