Published 7th July 2020
2020 was supposed to be the year of 20-plenty, but instead it’s been more like the year of 20-empty, amiright? Covid-19 and the global pandemic is just one of a number of curveballs that have been thrown at us this year, but hopefully wherever you are right now things are slowly returning to more of a normal state. So let’s look at the effects of Covid-19 on EFL around the world.
In terms of the TEFL industry, we were dealt a huge blow with the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world. As schools closed globally, students turned to online learning. They cancelled plans to travel abroad to study English and they cancelled English lessons as it was no longer affordable or feasible. Many schools closed down and many teachers lost their jobs. On the other hand, teachers and schools who were able to adapt their lessons into online content have seen a surge in students and an increase in business.
The Effects of Covid-19 on EFL around the World
But let’s look at the bigger picture. Let’s look forward and see where we are headed right now. How are we emerging from our lockdowns, and what does this mean for the future of teaching English as a Foreign Language? Will there still be jobs for those of us who want to continue teaching English as a Foreign Language, and will they be the same as before?
Here are a few of the effects so far of Covid-19 and the current global pandemic.
Some schools have closed down…
As has been the case in all industries, the last few months have seen a huge number of businesses having to close their doors permanently. Unfortunately, there have been many EFL schools around the world who have suffered the same fate. This is a result of travel restrictions around the world preventing students travelling to language schools, cancelling future plans, and the forced closure of schools through lockdown.
While mainstream schools have by and large managed to stay afloat thanks to school fees and government assistance, EFL schools, which are mostly privately-owned, have not had such benefits. They have had to swallow the financial impact of their loss of business themselves, usually to the detriment of their teachers. Don’t forget that the pandemic first resulted in lockdowns in China and Italy, which are two of the biggest markets for US and UK language schools, as well as having massive EFL industries themselves.
…But teacher recruitment is on the rise elsewhere
Post-Covid-19, many classrooms will look different. Due to social distancing measures, which look set to stay with us for the foreseeable future, this means there will be fewer students in our classrooms. Logically, if the number of students is going to stay the same this means there needs to be more teachers.
As just one example, the Education Ministry of Thailand are making preparations for exactly that. Mainstream schools opened in Thailand on 1 July for the new term so there is a current recruitment drive under way. At the same time, the Education Ministry has unveiled plans to increase the number of foreign teachers in Thai schools to teach not only English but other subjects as well. While this is just an example of one country, we expect other countries to follow suit and employ similar measures out of necessity. So if you are still considering travelling in the future to teach English, there are sure to be jobs available to you.
And of course we have seen the dramatic rise of online teaching companies. In February and March the original online schools were suddenly inundated with students, which meant that online teachers were drowning in online classes. Thousands of new online teachers were hired and these companies are booming. In fact, hundreds of new online teaching companies have sprung up all over the world to cater for this new need. Not only have students realized they enjoy learning English online, teachers have realized they can earn a living teaching online.
Our classrooms have changed
A few months ago not many people knew what Zoom was, and now we’re all pretty much expert-level at opening up breakout rooms! Being forced to teach online has shown us that we’re all capable of teaching online. We have become familiar with the many numerous online resources that we can use to make our online lessons amazing, and we have realized that we might even enjoy working from home.
As teachers we understand more now what works and doesn’t work for our students. In fact, while there has been general success of online learning, there is set to be a general move not towards total online learning (which traditionally has a huge drop-out rate) but towards blended learning. What this means for us as EFL teachers is that we can look forward to utilizing more technological resources in our classrooms.
Online training is booming
But online learning is no longer only restricted to our EFL students. Wannabe-EFL teachers are signing up for online TEFL courses in their hundreds! And why not? It’s the perfect time. You might be stuck at home with not too much to do right now. Maybe you’ve even been retrenched or are unable to do your job from home, so you’re looking for another way to make ends meet. Possibly this time away from your job has made you realise you would rather be doing something else so you’re willing to give teaching English as a Foreign Language a shot. Whatever your reason, there has never been a better time to do a TEFL course and start teaching English online.
But even TEFL courses have had to adapt. While a big part of some TEFL courses is the practical teaching component, this can obviously no longer be done right now. Instead, TEFL companies are offering alternative ways to get your practical teaching experience. This might be by teaching your peers online or teaching EFL students online. Either way, considering the circumstances, it is only going to do you good to get as much online teaching experience as possible, so this actually a blessing in disguise.
Travel plans have been put on hold
(Can someone pass me a tissue, please?)
Possibly the most disappointing thing to come out of this whole debacle for us EFL teachers is that our travel plans have been put on hold indefinitely. Most countries are not allowing travel at the moment and who knows when that will be unrestricted again, or indeed how it will take place. For now, we can dream, and save up our hard-earned money for the adventure of a lifetime when the world opens up again and we can all go back to normal.
How is Covid-19 affecting you and your TEFL dreams? Let us know!
For now, stay safe, stay at home, and don’t forget to wash your hands!