Published 19th November 2019

If you’re reading this you’re probably thinking of venturing into the exciting world of teaching English as a Foreign Language. Maybe you’re thinking of teaching in South Korea for a year before getting a “real” job, or maybe you want to work and travel your way around the world for a few years before settling down. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re considering teaching English as a Foreign Language as a career. Here we ask the question, is EFL a good career?

Is EFL a career?

Not many people realise this but there are many TEFL teachers who teach English as a career. True, many of them may have started out with the idea of teaching temporarily but ultimately they realized that they were passionate about teaching and would rather teach English than do anything else. The days of TEFL teachers all being painted with the backpacker brush are over. These days, more and more teachers are investing in themselves through higher education and continuous professional development to be the best teachers they can be and, as a result, forge a career in the TEFL field.


How can EFL be a career?

The thing is, teaching English as a Foreign Language is not just teaching. Teaching is just one of many jobs you can have in the TEFL field and if you are considering TEFL as a career, you might be interested to know what your different options are.

1 ) Teacher

The obvious one first. Teachers can teach General English, Business English, Academic English or a host of other English courses. TEFL teachers can also find themselves teaching other subjects through English (also known as CLIL). You can teach kindergarten through to high school to university and adults. 

2) Examiner

TEFL students who need a certification to prove their English level take exams like the Cambridge exams or IELTS or TOEFL. Teaching these classes is very specialized. Once you have a few years of experience you might find you particularly enjoy teaching English for exam purposes. If this is you, then you should consider becoming an examiner. This will mean extra training and professional development but once you’re qualified you could be an examiner for a speaking exam or a marker of any of the written papers. This is not a full-time gig but would be on top of your regular teaching gig.

3) Director of Studies or Assistant Director of Studies

If you enjoy a bit of administration along with your teaching you might want to consider being a DoS or ADoS. The DoS is like the principal of the school. They don’t often teach, though they sometimes cover teachers who are absent, but they are in charge of the class curricula, the teaching schedule, resources and teacher development. You never know, you could even find yourself opening up your own school!

4) Materials developer

Maybe you find when you’re teaching that the best part of it for you is the lesson planning. Some teachers really enjoy coming up with activities and exercises, making worksheets and thinking up the best ways to teach a language structure. If this is the case, you can become a materials developer. You can find contacts within the publishing industry who may be looking for developers to work on a specific book or there are a number of websites where you can share or sell your materials.

5) TEFL trainer

If you have at least two years’ experience teaching adults, and you think you would enjoy training other people to be teachers, you can do the Delta and become a TEFL trainer. As you can imagine this is totally different to being a TEFL teacher, because you’re teaching people who speak English, but it’s a whole nother aspect of TEFL which is challenging but rewarding.

In short, teaching English as a Foreign Language is definitely a career and a good one at that. If travelling, new cultural experiences, challenging yourself and a fun learning environment appeal to you, then you should think about being a TEFL teacher. And don’t limit yourself to a year or two – you could be doing this until you retire!

  1. I would like to become a teacher, currently doing teaching st unisa doing my first year. My majors are English and Geography.

    1. Hello Nonhlanhla, thank you for your interest in the course. We have sent you an email with our course information and a prospectus. 🙂

    1. Hello Vuyelwa, thank you for your interest in the course. We have sent you an email with our course information and a prospectus. 🙂

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