Published 3rd September 2020
Many of our posts relate to newbie teachers just starting out in their career teaching English as a Foreign Language, or even to people curious to find out more about teaching English as a Foreign Language to see if it is something they should consider doing themselves. But what about those of us who have done the TEFL certificate, have taught for a while and are wondering what is next for your TEFL career?
Well then this post is just for you!
Doing a TEFL course and finding a job abroad is very often a short-term plan. Many people find that they are unsatisfied in their jobs or at a crossroads in their life when they feel like they need a change. Invariably this involves leaving home and travelling, so when the realization comes that they need to earn money to fund their travels, they turn to TEFL. They’ll do the TEFL course, find a job abroad and teach for a year or two before heading back home to their families and careers.
But it’s not the same for everyone. Some of us perhaps start out teaching English as a Foreign Language to make a bit of money and see the world, but then we realise that we genuinely enjoy teaching and are pretty good at it. And if that’s the case, why would we stop doing it?
If this sounds like you, you might be wondering if there is more to the TEFL life than teaching English day in and day out. No matter how much you enjoy teaching, there is sure to be a part of you that wants to grow in your profession. If you are doing the same thing Monday to Friday, January to December, then you might feel stuck and your job might feel stagnant. So it’s good to know that there are more options available to you in the ELT field than teaching the present perfect every lesson for the rest of your life.
But what exactly are those options?
Have a look at these and see if TEFL might actually be a long-term career path for you.
Specialised EFL teacher
Most of us start out teaching General English or Conversational English. This is mostly because there is the biggest demand for this type of English lesson no matter where you are in the world. It’s also a great way to start teaching, to get to know your teaching style and to learn to feel comfortable teaching students. But there are loads more different EFL classes you could be teaching.
English language learners who want to study at an English-speaking university need to take lessons in English for Academic Purposes, so you could try your hand at that and find a position at a university. Alternatively, if you are business-minded you could focus on teaching Business English. Or you could consider teaching English for other purposes with lessons in English for Specific Purposes, such as English for Aviation or English for Banking.
As teachers we all end up creating our own lesson materials at some point or other – in fact, most of the time. But some of us find that we really enjoy it. If that sounds like you, you could consider materials development as your full-time job. One option is to make yourself known to the ELT publishers and try to get involved in writing coursebooks or resource books. Another option is to create your own materials and sell them online to other teachers, on sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers.
You probably know a bit about the different EFL exams many of our learners have to take – IELTS and TOEFL being the two biggest ones, but then also the Cambridge suite of exams like the Cambridge Proficiency Exam or the Cambridge First Certificate. If you have experience preparing students for these exams, you can train as a marker and examiner. Though this requires a fair amount of training, it’s an interesting path to take.
Director of Studies
If you find that you enjoy the administrative side of teaching as well as the teaching side of teaching, then you should consider becoming a DoS. A DoS usually teaches a few classes but the majority of their time is spent organizing schedules, placing students in the appropriate levels, hiring teachers and organizing teaching resources. In order to become a DoS, you need to have quite a few years of experience, and preferably a Diploma in Teaching English to Adults.
If you’re more of an entrepreneur, you could even set up your own language centre. This way you will be your own boss and you can create exactly the kind of school you want.
If you find yourself taking a serious interest in theories of teaching and learning and best practices when it comes to teaching, maybe you would suit being a teacher trainer. You could either be a TEFL trainer or a CELTA trainer. While you will still be involved in teaching English as a Foreign Language you will not spend as much time teaching yourself.
Yes, blogging had to make it onto the list! There are a few options here. You could have a blog about TEFL, a blog about being a digital nomad, or a travel blog. If you enjoy writing, can take decent photographs and like being on social media, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make some money on the side – through advertising and sponsorships. Teacher by day and blogger by night – we like the sound of that!
As you can see, there are more options in the EFL field than plain old TEFL teacher. While many of us start out teaching as much as possible, a huge number of TEFL teachers actually end up in a different sector of EFL or working as a TEFL teacher and having a side hustle to earn a bit of extra income.
So if the thought of turning up to a classroom every day of your life makes you want to rethink your decision to do a TEFL course, rest easy knowing that there are more options available to you, and a TEFL course could be just the stepping stone you’re looking for.