Published 21st March 2021
Teaching English as a Foreign Language might seem like the answer to all your prayers these days. You can qualify to teach from the comfort of your living room, and it won’t take you years to complete the course. You can work online until you are able to travel more freely and then you can work from wherever you want – or still from your couch if that’s what you choose.
But that all sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? If everyone has the same idea as you then is there really a demand for TEFL teachers?
Let’s look at the facts to find out.
Read more: How Big is the TEFL Market?
How many people are learning English as a Foreign Language?
It was estimated that in 2020 there were approximately 2 billion people learning English as a Foreign Language. Just in China, there were 300 million English language learners. That’s A LOT of English language learners. This is because English has always been one of the major languages of international communication and business, and now more than ever before people are realising the benefits of being able to speak English and be bilingual. In fact, many countries are implementing plans to increase English language instruction in schools. In other words, they are making it compulsory or incentivising learners to learn English at school. Add to this the fact that online learning is making learning English much easier than before and the result is a boom in English language learning.
More learners = more classes = more teachers.
And this is a global phenomenon. There is a common misconception that English language learners are only in non-English speaking countries, so you need to be in China or South Korea, or Spain to teach English. That’s quite simply not true. In countries like the US, Canada, and the UK, there are populations who don’t speak English as a first language. They might not be exposed to English sufficiently to pick it up before going to school or they might have only moved to the country when they were a bit older. They are living in English-speaking countries and they need English lessons.
On the other hand, there are English language students who travel to English-speaking countries purely to learn English. The UK and the US are particularly popular with international students but the majority of English-speaking countries have opportunities for international students to learn English as a Foreign Language in language schools. So you’re equally likely to find a job teaching English in London or Miami as you are in Beijing or Taipei.
How many people are teaching English as a Foreign Language?
With so many people needing and wanting to learn English, this means there is a need for English language teachers.
There is no doubt that there are hundreds of thousands of English language teachers already teaching English around the world. It is estimated that over 100 000 positions open up for TEFL teachers all over the world EVERY YEAR – and that’s not even considering online teaching.
But there is still a need for more TEFL teachers.
The nature of teaching English as a Foreign Language is that teachers are constantly moving. TEFL teachers are nomadic and so move between jobs quite frequently. Even if they stay in the same country, they often move between cities or at least change jobs. Teachers generally stay in a position for 1 – 2 years before moving on. If they do stay in a school for an extended period of time, they often take up more senior positions – such as Directors or Assistant Directors of Studies. These positions involve fewer teaching hours and more administrative work, meaning there is still a need to place another teacher in their previous teaching position.
This means that there is constantly a revolving door of TEFL teachers in schools.
Read more: What are the Next Steps in My TEFL Career?
Teaching English Online
And we haven’t even touched on the subject of teaching English online yet.
The last year has seen an astronomical increase in online learning due to circumstances. More and more people are realising the benefits of learning online. Online learning is flexible and convenient; learners can tailor their schedules to suit themselves. This has seen an increase in the popularity of online learning for all subjects, but especially for English.
Consequently, there is a massive demand for online English teachers.
Case in point: VIPKid is an online teaching company that teaches English to Chinese learners. This one company has over 200 000 students. Considering many of these learners prefer to take 1-to-1 classes or classes with 4 – 6 students, VIPKid needs to hire thousands of teachers to teach these students.
There have been a number of online teaching companies which have been providing online English lessons for years, but now there are online companies popping up every day to keep up with the demand.
Read more: Are There Jobs for Online English Teachers?
So while teaching English as a Foreign Language can seem like a very popular career choice at the moment, that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for you. The EFL market is changing all the time so if you keep your eye on online jobs boards you will see job advertisements tomorrow that aren’t there today. And if you’re comfortable teaching English online there is no foreseeable end to the online learning boom.