Published 19th February 2021
Teaching English as a Foreign Language can take many forms. TEFL teachers can find themselves teaching anything from kindergarten to university, summer camp to private school, CEOs to au pairs, Conversational English to English for Nursing, and anything and everything in-between. If you are not a trained teacher, you might feel overwhelmed when you think about being in the classroom, even with a TEFL course under your belt. Even though a TEFL course will prepare you to stand on your own two feet in an EFL classroom, the thought of actually putting your lessons into practice can be daunting.
This is where TEFL internships come in.
What is a TEFL internship?
A TEFL internship is a short-term teaching position. You might be a teacher or a teaching assistant, but either way, it is different from a teaching position because it is a fully supported teaching position. An internship is organised totally by a company that will hold your hand every step of the way. In other words, you don’t apply to the school but rather to a company for a specific position.
Another difference is the pay. While with a teaching post you will receive a salary, an internship may or may not be paid. If you aren’t paid, your accommodation and food will usually be supplied, so you won’t need to spend any money while you are working. If you are paid, it is usually just a stipend to cover your living costs. TEFL internships often include extras like local language lessons and cultural excursions as well. There may be a cost involved in applying for the internship program, but more and more internships are foregoing this cost.
The different types of TEFL internship
There are a few different types of TEFL internship:
- Homestay – Interns live with a local family, usually teaching the children in the family. Interns may also teach at a local school. The host family provides the intern with board and accommodation, but also a window into local life. The intern is usually a valued member of the family and is taken on excursions and exposed to the local culture with the family. This is the best way to experience the true culture of your host country.
Au pair – Au pairs live with a local family and look after the children. Responsibilities may include taking and fetching the children to and from school, entertaining the children after school, arts and crafts, and/or sports. Au pairs are encouraged to teach the children English but there is often no need for English lessons as such. Instead, the children will pick up the language from spending time with the au pair.
- Teaching assistant – TEFL teachers are placed in local schools to assist the local teachers. TEFL teachers may be assigned to teach English lessons as well, but usually, the assistant does not do any lesson planning but assists the teacher in carrying out the lessons. The assistant is able to provide language help when necessary, especially when it comes to pronunciation.
- TEFL teacher – TEFL teachers are placed in teaching positions. The teachers are the main teacher in the class and are responsible for planning and carrying out lessons, as well as administrative tasks. It is the equivalent of a TEFL teaching post, but your company will provide you with orientation and training before you start. Your hours will usually be fewer than usual and your contract will be for a short time.
- With TEFL certification – TEFL teachers take a TEFL course and are then placed in a job on successful completion of the course. These courses are usually shorter than usual, but a job is guaranteed.
Why you should do a TEFL internship
TEFL internships are a great way to get involved in TEFL without committing to a long-term contract. It is the perfect way to get experience to put on your teaching CV. It gives you the chance to find your feet in the classroom, which will give you confidence when you are applying for your next TEFL job.
A TEFL internship will also save you a lot of stress when looking for a job because you are essentially choosing where and how you want to work. TEFL internships are advertised on many websites and you simply have to browse the different programs and decide which one you want to apply for.
Then when you arrive in the country, you will attend an orientation program to help you familiarise yourself with your new community. This will help you learn how to get around, clarify any social expectations you should be aware of, and give you a basic understanding of the local language. Throughout your internship you will be supported by the company you signed up with, so you don’t need to worry about being stranded in a foreign country.
Read more: Culture Shock
TEFL internships are cultural adventures. They allow you to experience the culture of a country and be introduced to the country in a way that might not be possible otherwise. Your company will organise everything for you, so you don’t need to worry about visas, accommodation or even language lessons. The fact that everything is organised for you makes a TEFL internship a very attractive option, especially for first-timers who may be apprehensive about moving abroad.
A TEFL internship could be right for you if you:
- Do not want to commit to one job for at least a year.
- Are nervous about moving abroad.
- Have no teaching experience.
- Would not be comfortable being thrown in the deep end.
- Can afford a reduced salary.
Whichever way you look at it, a TEFL internship is a good idea if you are looking to dip your toes into TEFL without making a full commitment. Every internship program is different but you will always know what you are signing up for. Have a look at our internships page to see if any of our amazing internship opportunities appeal to you.