Published 9th April 2021
The United Kingdom is considered by many to be the home of tea, cricket, and teaching English as a Foreign Language. If you’re not familiar with the field of TEFL, you might not realise that there are a lot of opportunities for TEFL teachers there. Many people think Who am I going to teach in England, where everyone knows how to speak English? But learners come to the UK throughout the year and for a range of reasons: to brush up on their English, to have summer holidays or to prepare for university. Logically, TEFL teaching in the UK is a popular choice, and a top destination for foreign language students to study English, rivalled only by the United States. Consequently, the UK is saturated with language schools and overflowing with students.
Teaching English in language schools in the UK
There are a ton of different language schools all over the UK – approximately 450, in fact. They are situated all over but especially in London, Cambridge, and Oxford. These are either small, boutique schools or bigger chain schools but the working environments are pretty much the same. You’ll work 3 – 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, mornings and afternoons and possible evenings too. Your lessons will be Conversational English, General English, Business English, English for Exams, or English for Specific Purposes – Aviation, Hospitality, Nursing, and so on. Your learners will range in age from 16 to 50+ and your class size shouldn’t exceed more than 12. You are usually paid an hourly wage, which is currently around £18 – £25.
Read more: Top Language Schools in the UK
Teaching adults can be both rewarding and challenging, but the great thing about adults is that they bring life experience, opinions, and values into the classroom and are able to contribute in a more meaningful way than younger learners, and are always eager for a chat. Language classrooms in the UK tend to be very multicultural, which makes for interesting conversations and lively debates. Be warned though, the downside of teaching adults is that they know how to complain – about their lessons, their homestays, English food, English weather. In some cases, you can sympathize (it’s difficult to explain to a Spaniard or a Brazilian that it’s not going to get any hotter or sunnier, even though it may be summer) but sometimes they just need someone to listen to them rant.
Teaching in summer schools in the UK
Then there are the summer schools.
Young Learners and Young Adults are sent over for the summer from Europe and Asia, to play games in the English sunshine… or play English games anyway, and play football, squash, and tennis with other learners. During summer school you can expect to teach lessons, of course, but also spend time with your students on a social basis. Sometimes you may even stay on the school premises, or be asked to carry out pastoral duties as well.
There are a lot of bonuses teaching in a summer school: 1) It’s usually quite easy to find a job; 2) Accommodation and board is often included, and 3) You are expected to go on excursions with students which means you will be “working” while eating ice cream on the beach at Brighton or checking out the latest exhibitions at the portrait gallery. These lessons are a lot of fun, too, because they are quite different from normal lessons and involve a lot more activities and a lot fewer books. When you think about it, if your weekly salary for a summer camp is £450, that is the equivalent of a much higher salary because you don’t have to pay for rent or food, and you can enjoy holiday activities as well without spending a penny.
Also, many language schools have their own summer camps. So you can choose to work at the summer camp of the language school you are already working at, or you can choose to spend a summer working for a particular summer school.
Read more: 5 Characteristics of Summer Camp Teachers
Teaching private students in the UK
With such a large population of people in the UK for work purposes, coupled with the price tag of attending a private language school, there is a huge market for independent TEFL teachers to teach privately. Some teachers do this as a language exchange in which the TEFL teacher and the student take turns leading the lesson in their language. Others meet their students in local coffee shops and have a lesson for an hour a week after work.
It is totally possible to be a full-time private TEFL teacher but many teachers do it as an added source of income. You can set your own rates, which will depend on your experience. Teachers with a bit of teaching experience generally charge around £20 – £25 an hour, but this would be more if you are teaching a specialisation. If you are starting out it’s a great way to get experience.
Teaching at a university in the UK
Then, there is the option of teaching at a university. Many foreign students come to the UK to study. However, even if they have a good level of English they might still find studying in English challenging, so they need extra lessons to brush up on their Academic English. You could find a position teaching English at a foundation level to students who have been accepted to study at a particular institution but need to improve their English level before they commence studying.
Teaching online in the UK
Then, of course, you can choose to teach online. Teaching English online gives you the opportunity to work from wherever you want. You can work as much as you want and you can choose your own schedule. Being based in the UK doesn’t even mean you have to teach in the UK – you can teach anywhere in the world!
Above all, no matter which option you choose, teaching in the UK is a great way to get a range of experience under your belt, get to grips with the methodologies behind TEFL, and focus on your own teacher development. And drink a lot of tea.