Published 22nd January 2021
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment. Being a digital nomad is all the rage right now and being a TEFL teacher allows you to do exactly that and travel the world – a very attractive option, in our opinion. There is a lot of information out there on TEFL and it can be time-consuming to wade through the hundreds of blog posts and articles and opinion pieces to find out exactly what you want to know. This is exactly why we have our FAQs page for you to peruse to find out everything you need to know.
But, once you’ve got past the usual What is TEFL?, What qualifications do I need to teach English as a Foreign Language? and Where are the best places to teach English as a Foreign Language? there are probably quite a few questions you have that still haven’t been answered. And believe it or not, other people are asking them too.
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Your time is precious, so we have collated seven of our most frequently asked slightly different questions in one post for you to read. So grab your cup of coffee, sit back, relax and read on for all the answers to your burning TEFL questions.
Do I need to speak the local language to teach English abroad?
Of course, knowing the local language will be helpful for you in your everyday life, but you do not need it in the EFL classroom. This might come as a surprise but we teach English as a Foreign Language through immersion. In other words, everything that is said in the classroom is said in English – not just the lesson activities but also instructions, offhand comments, conversations, everything.
This has been proven as a very effective way of teaching English which is why this is what happens in EFL classrooms all over the world. Some teachers like to know the local language so they can know what the students are saying if they are speaking in their home language, or for discipline and administration reasons, but it serves no purpose in teaching the language.
Can I teach in the same school as my partner?
However, this will depend on you finding a job which can cater to both of you. A TEFL job is a job like any other; working in the same law firm or hospital or bookshop as your partner all depends on if there are two positions available.
Schools usually have more than one TEFL teacher and many times they are looking for more than one teacher at the same time. All you have to do is find those jobs and apply for them together. Another option, however, is to live together but work in different schools in the same area.
Am I too young or old to teach English abroad?
Generally speaking, you need to be over 18 to teach English as a Foreign Language. This is because you need to have a TEFL certificate and sometimes also a degree, as well as having completed your school education. It is not likely that you have accomplished all this before you are 18.
On the other side of the spectrum, finding a TEFL job is possible no matter what your age. Many schools prefer mature teachers as they have experience. The difficulty comes in with the working visas. Many countries have an upper age limit on work visas. So, for example, if you are over 65 or 70 (depending on the country), you won’t be able to apply for a work visa for that country so you won’t be able to work there unless you are legally allowed to work in that country already.
Can only businessmen teach Business English?
As a TEFL teacher, we can be required to teach any number of subjects. You might teach aviation English to air traffic controllers from Reunion, or medical English to doctors from Bangladesh, or financial English to CFOs from Argentina. There is no way we can be qualified to teach every single subject, but we are qualified to teach English as a Foreign Language.
Luckily there are coursebooks and resources available to us so that we can prepare ourselves to teach whatever English we are required to teach. We can upskill ourselves and improve our knowledge on that particular subject in order to teach. So no, you don’t need to be a businessman to teach Business English, but it is helpful if you are interested in the topic!
Will I teach the same thing over and over again?
Maybe, but probably not.
When you are teaching English as a Foreign Language, there are a few scenarios you can find yourself in. You could teach four classes of Intermediate teen students. This means you will probably see each class once a day. In this scenario yes, you will be teaching the same lesson to each class.
However, you could be teaching five classes of different levels. In this case, each lesson you teach will be different.
Or you could even be teaching different kinds of English lessons – a Grammar class, a Conversation class, an Exam English class and a Business English class, for example – in which case everything about your lessons will be different.
And of course, even if you are teaching the same lesson a few times, because no two students are the same, your lessons will likely turn out differently. You may need to plan slightly different activities depending on the size of your class, and the personalities and strengths, and weaknesses of your students. In a nutshell, no two days teaching English as a Foreign Language are the same!
Will my school give me course books?
The majority of schools will give you their chosen coursebook to use in the classroom, but we can’t say with certainty that your particular school will be one of those. There are many schools that don’t have the resources to offer coursebooks to their teachers and students. They rely on their teachers having their own resources and ideas to implement in the classroom. On the other end of the spectrum, there are schools that have entire rooms dedicated to bookshelves of teaching resource books and photocopiable materials. This is something you can ask your school during the interview process so you can know what to expect from your working environment.
Do I have to pay tax?
The tax you pay will depend on where you are living and working. If you are working in a country, you need to abide by their rules when it comes to paying tax. This also depends on your home country as they might have certain rules you will need to follow even if you aren’t working or living there. Your school should be able to help you figure this out to make sure you are legally employed.
If you are an online teacher or a freelance teacher, you will need to organize your tax yourself as it is your responsibility.
These are just a few more of the frequently asked questions we get asked on a daily basis. Are there any other niggling questions you want to be answered? Let us know in the comments.