Published 26th February 2021

TEFL facts

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is what all the cool kids are doing these days. And who can blame them? Exploring this beautiful world of ours, changing people’s lives (not to mention your own), getting paid for the privilege while simultaneously upskilling themselves – why wouldn’t you sign up for that?

But we have to admit, the idea of packing your bags, leaving your home, and crossing the globe to go and do something you’ve never done before can be a daunting one. So much so that if you’ve signed up for a TEFL course (with an internationally-recognised accredited course provider, of course) your friends and family might not understand why you might decide to take this leap.

Read more: 7 Reasons Why You Should Do a TEFL

If the thought of what all the Judgy McJudgersons are going to think of you jetting off overseas is worrying you, we thought we’d give you some ammunition to illustrate to these folks just how amazing a TEFL career is, and just what a good idea teaching English as a Foreign Language is.

So here are…

7 amazing facts about TEFL that will wow your friends

1. English is the most spoken language in the world

And there are over 1.1 billion people who speak it as a first or a second language. While Mandarin and Spanish have more native speakers of their respective languages, English has more speakers when we consider both native and non-native speakers. English is the official language of 67 countries, and it is spoken in over 100 countries.

English has become such a widely spoken language out of necessity. Not only is English a useful language for travel, but it’s also the lingua franca of business and commerce. Students need English to study, businesspeople need English to network, backpackers need English to travel. This is why there is such a need for English as a Foreign Language teachers.

2. It’s estimated that there are currently 2 billion English language learners around the world.

The British Council noted that there were 1.5 billion English language learners in 2019 and estimated that this would increase to 2 billion in 2020. Due to current circumstances, it’s a bit difficult to put an exact number on it but we can imagine they’re not far wrong. In China alone, there are over 500 million English language learners, and that number is estimated to increase by 15% every year.

And it’s not just people in non-English speaking countries who want to learn English: the UK was host to over 550 000 English language learners from over 100 countries just in 2019. In other words, no matter where you go, there will be English language learners.

3. There are approximately 250 000 teachers teaching English as a Foreign Language all over the world.

That’s a lot of jobs. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is not a new career. Sure it may have gotten a lot of press in the last few years, but teachers have been teaching for decades. It is a well-established field and can be a career if that’s what you want.

This also means that there are always jobs available to prospective TEFL teachers, or even experienced TEFL teachers who are looking for a change of scenery. The job market for TEFL is not looking like it will die down anytime soon.

TEFL facts to Wow your friends

4. There are more than 40 000 schools and institutes teaching English as a Foreign Language around the world.

And those are just the schools. Sure, the majority of students attend a school to learn English, but there are plenty of other opportunities for TEFL teachers besides teaching in a school. You can teach English at a summer camp, at a university, privately, or online.

5. Approximately 100 000 EFL jobs open up every year.

Due to the nature of TEFL, many teachers leave their schools at the end of their contracts, either to move on to another school in another destination or to return home. This means that every year, there are literally thousands of job openings wherever you want to teach. We can’t think of many fields that have as much availability as TEFL.

5. Approximately 80% of TEFL teachers in non-native-speaking countries are non-native speakers.

As a result of the demand for English teachers, many non-native speakers train to be English teachers because of the job opportunities. And there’s no reason they shouldn’t. Though there has historically been a preference for native English TEFL teachers, there are many reasons why the first language of the teacher has no bearing on their teaching ability.

Read more: The Advantages of Being a Non-Native English Teacher

6. English language learners (ELLs) are more likely to speak English to another ELL than to a native speaker.

This is an interesting one. You might imagine that we are teaching our students to communicate in English so they can speak to native speakers, but that’s actually just not the case. There are more non-native speakers of English than people who speak English as a first language. Chances are your students will be communicating with speakers of a language other than their first language but in English.

7. The average English native speaker knows between 25 and 35 000 words.

And then about 1 000 to 2 000 words are added to the English dictionary every year. These are words that have been created through derivation (preteen), repurposing (mouse), compounding (daydream), abbreviations (scuba), loan words (tsunami), or portmanteaus (yuppie). They are then adopted by the general public and when they become widely accepted they are entered into the official dictionary.

These words are an interesting reflection of the state of the world of the year. For example, entries for 2020 include:

friend (v)

on-brand (adj)

hard pass

cancel culture

BIPOC

Hygge (n)

and, not surprisingly,

WFH (adj)

lockdown (n)

and COVID-19 (n).

Basically, not only are there are a lot of words for English language learners to learn, but the language is changing all the time so the need for English teachers will always be there.

There you are, if you’re facing some uphill from friends and family about your new career choice, just whip out these 7 amazing facts about TEFL at your next dinner party to wow your friends.

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