Published 27th April 2016
There is so much information out there about the world of Teaching English as a Foreign Language that it can be difficult to know what to believe. But there are probably a few things that no-one has told you yet:
Not all TEFL courses are a good idea
There are a million and one different TEFL courses to choose from. What this means is that there is a lot of competition for potential students, so course providers will offer more for less in order to attract future teachers. While many TEFL courses are definitely worth the time and money, a word of warning: if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Remember the international standard for new teachers is 120 hours of TEFL training.
You’re (almost) never too old
Being a TEFL teacher is not only for the young. Though most TEFL teachers are quite young, there are many more mature TEFL teachers as well. In terms of finding a job, any TEFL employer worth their salt will appreciate that being older means that you have more life and work experience.
It’s not just a temporary fix
Doing a TEFL course and moving abroad to teach EFL is not only a way of passing the summer. Most jobs actually ask for a commitment of at least a year, so chances are you’ll be teaching for a lot longer than you think. What’s more, TEFLing is a bit like travelling: once you start you won’t want to stop.
It gives you valuable experience
But, even if you decide not to be a TEFL teacher for the rest of your career, doing a short-term stint as a teacher will provide you with valuable skills and experience which you can transfer to other work situations and future employment.
You don’t teach only children
The idea that many people have of TEFL is of themselves standing in front of a class of excited children, but – though there are many jobs Teaching English as a Foreign Language to children – there are just as many which involve teaching adults.
You don’t need to speak the language
Just because you are teaching English in China, does not mean that you need to be able to speak Mandarin to be able to do your job. In fact, speaking the language may actually count against you if your students learn to use it to their advantage.
It’s not only for backpackers
TEFL can sometimes get a bad reputation has a way for backpackers to travel the world while earning money. Of course there are people who enjoy partying more than teaching, but you’ll find that the majority of TEFL teachers take their job seriously.
It’s not only teaching
There are many different positions related to TEFL. Of course you can be a teacher, but you can also be a teaching assistant, a camp activity leader, a Director of Studies, a sales agent or a marketing manager, among others.
Speaking is not the same as teaching
Just because you can speak English does not mean that you can teach English, which is why it’s so important that you do a good TEFL course to help prepare you for the classroom.
Marking is not so bad
Marking is definitely a part of the job but it’s not the be-all and end-all of teaching. Teaching is probably one of the most fun jobs you can have and there are loads more good moments than bad, so don’t be afraid to take the leap and become a TEFL teacher.