Published 10th September 2021
While there is no doubt that teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad has been gaining in popularity over the last decade or so, the last few years have really put a spanner in the plans of many TEFL teachers. With COVID-19 turning the world upside-down, the EFL market was heavily affected all across the globe.
EFL schools around the world were forced to adapt and offer online classes or close down when student numbers dwindled to zero. TEFL teachers had to learn how to teach English online effectively or face unemployment. EFL learners, too, had to adapt to their new learning environments.
What this has resulted in is a remarkably different TEFL market to what we had before. Students, teachers and employers have changed their teaching methods, becoming even more flexible and adaptable than before. TEFL teachers have always had to think on their feet but quarantines and lockdowns all over the world meant a total change in teaching behaviours. Teaching online is one thing, and dealing with the mental health of ourselves and our students is another added pressure.
Thankfully, things look like they are slowly starting to go back to normal – well, a new normal, at least. As international travel opens up again, foreign students are again looking to study at language schools all over the world, while TEFL teachers are starting to job hunt abroad again. So while you might be excited about these opportunities that are being presented to you, you might not be fully aware of how exactly you will teach English abroad under these new circumstances we find ourselves in.
So here are a few considerations for you to think about how to teach English abroad post-COVID.
It’s time to get vaxxed!
Science has shown us that vaccinations work in reducing the transmission of COVID-19, while also protecting us from more severe forms of the virus. Getting vaccinated before you travel will protect you from contracting the virus or at least prevent you from requiring hospitalisation, which is not something you want to happen while in a foreign country!
At the same time, being vaccinated will make international travel much easier. More and more countries are requiring people entering the country to show proof of vaccination before they will allow entry. On the other hand, those countries which will allow you in unvaccinated will require you to undergo a period of quarantine, which is often at your own expense. Proving your vaccination status can help you avoid that quarantine, or at least shorten it.
Remember that travelling will expose you to many more people than usual, whether it is on a plane, train or bus, or in restaurants, shops and hotels. Plus then as a teacher, you will be exposed to hundreds of students and colleagues on a daily basis. Even if you are currently living in a very protected bubble, you will be much more exposed when you start travelling.
Consider being a digital nomad
Our changing attitudes to online learning has led to a massive increase in the need for online teachers. In some countries, the schools remain closed or open on a restricted basis, so many students are still learning English online. So while the market is quite competitive (with recent restrictions in China having an effect on a lot of teachers) the demand is still there. It is possible to find a job teaching online.
Then, the bonus of being a digital nomad is that you are not restricted to teaching English. You can teach for a few hours a day, and then earn more money with other projects, like blog writing, proofreading or transcription. Being a digital nomad means you can travel wherever you want to (and wherever you can) and still earn money.
This is why now is the perfect time to get a TEFL certification. Even if you are not able to travel where you want to yet, getting TEFL qualified means you will have the option of teaching English locally and online before you venture abroad. This will also give you valuable experience for your CV.
Jazz up your CV
While you are job-hunting, you might have a bit of free time to make your CV as brilliant as possible. Besides getting a TEFL certificate, why not do one or more additional courses to help you specialise? It is also worth considering creating an introductory and/or a demo video. This is often requested if you are applying for online teaching jobs, but it can be just as useful to attach to your application for any TEFL job. As an English teacher, employers like to see that you are presentable, while at the same time confirm that your English is up to scratch and your accent is neutral – and a video is a perfect way to show off your brilliant smile, bubble personality and comprehensible English accent!
Applying for a job can be a time-consuming process. Applying to different schools and putting in visa applications can take weeks if not months. What you can do to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible is to prepare all the documents you will need in the application process. Make sure you have certified copies of your ID document and passport, as well as authenticated copies of your degree and TEFL certificate. Plus you may need a criminal check or a medical health check.
At the moment, because of the pandemic, any official business is taking longer than usual. Getting everything sorted in advance of applying for jobs will save you loads of time and prevent any hold-ups in the process.
When it comes to preparing to be in the classroom, restrictions and regulations are changing all the time these days. When you are looking for a job, do your research to find out what the current protocols are in the schools relating to COVID-19. Find out what kind of mask the school requires you to wear, and if they provide hand sanitiser. Find out how they are restricting the student numbers in your class and how that affects the syllabus. Similarly, make sure you know exactly what activities are allowed or what restrictions of movement there are during your lessons.
While we can never be 100% certain of anything these days, the least you can do is do your due diligence to make sure you are as prepared as possible to get back into the classroom.
Get ready to pack your bags
Of course, your ability to travel abroad as a TEFL teacher largely depends on where you are now. The country you are currently residing in will dictate which countries you are allowed to visit and which you are not. So we cannot speak for everyone in this post, because you will need to figure out your own individual situation. But we do want to let you know that the world is definitely opening up and it’s certainly possible to find TEFL jobs in certain countries, even today.