TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and it can sometimes be called TESOL, which stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. This is one of the most popular ways to work abroad and get paid for it. When I was backpacking, most of the travellers who were working had gained this qualification so they had a way of earning some money, as and when they needed to. Most people obtain the qualification before they left for travelling but don't panic, you can always do the course after you leave if your plans change and you want to gain the certification.
TEFL courses can be used for career breaks, gap years, sabbaticals or as a long term career.
What are the different teaching methods of TEFL Certification?
There are various ways for you to gain your TEFL certification, providing ultimate flexibility, for you to study in a way which suits your lifestyle and budget. The different courses enable people with full-time jobs to be able to still gain the qualification while at home, or after they have left and want to study overseas. These are the current options which you have:-
1. Full time - if you have lots of spare time you can complete the course full time.
2. Online - you can complete the course over the internet when it suits you.
3. Online and in the classroom - this is the same as the online course but you will have face to face time with a tutor in a classroom environment for certain parts of the course. The lessons are based all over the country so you hopefully shouldn't have to travel far.
4. Weekend (classroom only) - you can complete the course intensively over a weekend.
5. Overseas - as I mentioned before, you can complete your course overseas.
What are the different types of TEFL courses?
There are various different courses you can take, ranging from 50 hour online TEFL courses to advance courses after you have gained your initial TEFL certificate. You need to have an idea of what you want to gain from the course and what will suit you and your needs. If you want to aim a bit higher and add more to your CV, it's obvious that it will pay off to do the 150 TEFL course, rather than the 50-hour course. You will find that many jobs will state you have to have a minimum requirement of 120 TEFL certificate to be able to teach abroad (from an accredited and recognised course provider). However, it will come down to time and your budget and the reason you are doing the course.
It is important to note that there is not one single accreditor of the course, so you need to ensure that your qualification will be recognised in the country you want to work and teach.
Do I need to speak the local language for TEFL jobs?
No, you don't need to speak the local language as you will be provided with a teacher who will interpret for you. Depending on the course or placement provider you choose, guidance will be given on the local culture and way of life and basic language lessons to help you acclimatise to your surroundings.
Where can I teach with a TEFL qualification?
The majority of the TEFL jobs are based in Asia, particularly Vietnam, China, Thailand, South Korea and Japan. However, there are jobs across Europe, Africa or even the Middle East.
If you have a particular place in mind of where you want to teach, just ensure your course meets the requirements.
How much to TEFL teachers get paid?
How long is a piece of string? There are various factors which will affect your salary. The country on where you decide to teach and the experience you have will have a large impact on your earning capacity.
Most of the travellers who I talked to said the learnt enough to pay basic rent and food etc, but some people were earning more than they would back in the UK. With the low costs of living in some countries, this can result in a high standard of living. It also depends on how much effort and hours you want to work, or if you are happy just earning enough to live. It's not unheard of to receive bonuses at the end of your contract.
Some jobs/programmes will even assist you with the costs of flights, accommodation and visa. If you undertake a TEFL internship, these will usually pay you a monthly allowance, rather than a salary, so ensure that you are sure what you will be receiving before you take the role.
Where do I find TEFL jobs?
Whatever course provider you choose to do your course, the provider should provide job advice and access to their job board. Before you choose a course provider, I would ensure that they provide this type of service. You can also find job listings on the internet.
If finding a job worries you, then you can find programmes which offer a guaranteed TEFL job or internship, after completion of the course.
Do I need a degree to get my TEFL certificate and teach abroad?
Firstly, you do not need a degree or any teaching experience to get your TEFL certificate. You need to be able to speak English fluently and have an enthusiasm for teaching.
However, there are certain countries where you have to have a degree to gain a work permit and work legally in the country. It is not even worth considering working illegally, as you could end up in prison, with a hefty ban or lifetime ban from the country. Saudi Arabia, China and South Korea would all require a degree to get a work visa. Whereas by comparison countries within the EU or Mexico do not usually require a degree.
TEFL as a Career?
Teaching abroad can result in a rewarding and exciting way to earn money. There is no reason why you can't turn teaching abroad in to a long term career. As your experience grows then more opportunities will arise and your earning potential will continue to increase, just remember to check working visa requirements in each country.
TEFL can provide you with a life-changing experience, create memories that will last a lifetime, as well as improve your CV. It can enable you to travel the world and earn money at the same time, while really getting to know the local people and their way of life.
Interested in finding out more about taking a career break or sabbatical: