Published 12th July 2019
Almost daily we get asked can Teaching English as a Foreign Language Be a Career?
Teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad can sound like a dream job, until you tell your parents. Then it’s all What are you going to do when you come back? How is a year off going to look on your CV? and, our favourite, Why don’t you get a real job?
The fact of the matter is that TEFL has a bad reputation. Many people think of backpacker-teachers who only teach to make it to their next destination. Teachers who party all night and turn up at school unkempt and smelling like Khao San Road. Teachers who believe that if you can speak the language you can teach it.
We’re not all like that. Promise.
Some of us take our jobs seriously. Some of us teach because we want our students to learn English. Some of us plan lessons, teach like our lives depend on it, and mark all through the weekend (ok, not ALL through the weekend). Sure we might be in this field because we enjoy travelling, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t good teachers.
In fact, while a lot of teachers look for a relatively short-term stint teaching abroad, some of us want to keep doing this indefinitely. Is that even possible?
How can TEFL be a career?
Happily, yes. There is no reason why you can’t teach for many, many years if that’s what floats your boat.
But there are also a number of other options available to you in the TEFL field that may or may not be directly linked to teaching.
Enjoy a challenge?
If you enjoy teaching but work well under pressure, then you can upskill yourself to become a senior teacher or Academic Co-ordinator. Senior teachers act as mentors for new teachers and organize teacher development, while Academic Co-ordinators are involved in curriculum development and student support.
Are you business-oriented?
If you enjoy being in the English language teaching environment, but are actually more interested in the business side of things, maybe you should consider becoming a Director of Studies. It will require a bit more studying but if this is your vibe it’s totally worth it. As a Director of Studies you will be involved in the planning of the curriculum, recruiting teachers, developing the teachers, and co-ordinating with the sales and marketing team. It’s possible that you’ll teach too but this is usually minimal – often only when a teacher is ill.
Want to put those savings to good use?
Why not open your own school? It’s actually not as scary as it sounds. Opening your own school doesn’t necessarily involve renting premises and buying classroom equipment and hiring teachers. You could start a school which is a one-man show. You could teach at your house, at your client’s house, or in a public space, and you can start as small as you want and only expand when you need to, or not at all.
Think you could teach how to teach?
Once you’ve got some experience under your belt you might find that you become more interested in teaching teaching than teaching the language. In this case, you’ll need to do the DELTA and you can become a TEFL trainer.
Consider yourself a Hemingway?
If you’re nimble with a pencil…or a keyboard, you could leave the classroom and head into publishing territory. You could find work with an ELT publishing house and write coursebooks, reference books or supplementary materials.
Want to find people jobs?
Also away from the classroom, you can join a TEFL company and become a recruiter. You’ll be based in an office but you’ll be chatting to TEFL hopefuls about all things TEFL and helping them find their dream jobs.
Want more but don’t want to give up teaching?
If the classroom is your natural habitat but you’ve got a bit of free time and you’d rather not spend it watching Game of Thrones, you could start up a blog. It could be related to teaching English as a Foreign Language or travelling or photography – anything really. Once you’ve established yourself as a voice to be reckoned with, you can add ads or join affiliate programmes to earn a few cents on the side. Who knows, you could find yourself becoming a so-called influencer.
TEFL can be for a season or a lifetime there are so many options available to you. So if your mother or father gives you uphill when you mention that you are going into TEFL, send them our way and we’ll set them straight.