Teaching English Abroad in Your Gap Year
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Have you just graduated from high school or university?
Are you unsure of what you want to study at university or where you want to work?
Do you want to take a break from the books and the office and travel the world before settling down?
Then you’re probably already thinking about taking a gap year.
What is a gap year?
A gap year comes in a few different flavours. The one option is to take a gap year between high school and university. The other option is to take a gap year once you have graduated with a degree but before you start a job. The third option is one which is taking a mid-career sabbatical or a break between jobs or careers.
The rise of the adult gap year
The so-called adult gap year is becoming more and more popular. Travelling is easier than ever, technology keeps us all connected, and our lives are increasingly flexible. We understand that a good work-life balance is important and we are not willing to sacrifice our mental health for the sake of a job. This is why people are breaking the cycle of all-work-and-no-play. The new motto now seems to be: If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.
And we’re here for it.
Gap years are an opportunity to take a break from “the real world” and live the life you really want to live. If you’re unhappy in your daily life, maybe it’s time to make a change. The beauty of a gap year is that it’s flexi – it can be 3 months or a year or forever. It is enough time to reflect, reassess your priorities, and make an informed choice about your future.
As you might guess, our top pick for a gap year is teaching English as a foreign language abroad.
Why should you teach English abroad?
There are so many reasons you should teach English abroad. It might be easier to tell you why you shouldn’t!
Jokes aside, there really are a handful of good reasons why you should teach English abroad:
- It’s a great way to earn money and travel the world.
- You can experience a foreign country like a local more than a tourist.
- You will meet people from all over the world.
- It’s a flexible job so you can move around whenever you want.
- It gives you skills which you can transfer to other jobs.
- It could be the first step to a career you’d never considered before.
But let’s look specifically at how you can teach English abroad in your gap year.
Teaching English abroad in your gap year
The first step you’ll need to take is to do a TEFL course. Do your homework and find a TEFL course that is not only reputable and internationally recognised but suitable for you and your needs.
Your TEFL course can be done full-time or part-time, face-to-face, online, or a combination of both. This means that it’s possible to do the TEFL course while you are still studying or even working. You can study in your free time, which can be evenings and weekends. Rather than binge-watching the latest season of Stranger Things (okay, maybe afterwards), spend a couple of hours with your books instead.
Once you have your TEFL qualification under your belt, you can start looking for a job. If you have a degree, TEFL jobs are plentiful. If you don’t have a degree, it’s still very possible to find a job but you need to be a bit more selective in the countries that you apply for jobs in. For example, in order to get a work permit to teach in China, you need to have a degree, regardless of what field your degree is in.
Note: You don’t need to be able to speak the local language in order to teach English as a foreign language there. In fact, it can be beneficial to your students if you can’t, as then they can’t rely on translation during their lessons. Plus, if you do decide to learn the language (which we highly recommend) it’ll be a great addition to your CV – not to mention the perfect way to meet new friends.
Finding a TEFL job
The best way to find a job teaching abroad is to decide first of all where you would like to work. Once you have chosen a country, you can do your research and apply for jobs. There are often country-specific websites you can use – such as ajarn.com for jobs in Thailand – or you can use a general jobs board, like tefl.com.
In order to apply for a job, you’ll need to submit your CV, as well as attach a cover letter. There might be an application form you need to complete. If you make it through the first round, it’s likely you will be asked to attend an online interview. This could even involve doing (or explaining) a demo lesson or submitting an introductory video.
If you are given the job, your employer will send you a contract for you to sign. Then it’s time for you to book your ticket, sort out your visa and get packing!
TEFL job contracts are usually for 12 months, which means that you’ll spend your entire year in the same job. This is great because it gives you the chance to really experience your host country, make friendships and possibly even learn the local language.
However, if you only have a short time to spare or you would prefer to move around, you could look at short contracts, which are usually summer contracts or summer camps. These can be from four weeks to twelve weeks long. This gives you the flexibility to move around a bit more and experience living abroad in a few different countries or a few different cities in the same country.
If you’d rather not go through the procedure of looking for a job online, you can easily apply for a TEFL internship. Internships are ideal for teachers with no experience or people who would like a more structured TEFL experience. Internship programmes generally offer airport pick-ups, accommodation, cultural and language lessons, and teaching assistance if you need it. They are a great way to ease yourself into TEFL.
Another possibility is to teach English online. If you choose this route then the world really is your oyster as you can live anywhere, as long as you have a good internet connection and the right equipment.
The benefits of teaching English abroad in your gap year
Teaching English abroad in your gap year is an adventure. It doesn’t matter if you take it before you study, after you study or during a career break. It is a year you can focus on yourself. Plus, teaching English abroad looks great on your CV, as it shows you are independent, adaptable, responsible and organised.
So teaching English abroad can prepare you for any career. But you might find that you fall in love with TEFL and it actually becomes your career! You might decide to live abroad permanently and teach wherever your heart desires. Or you could find a career behind the scenes in TEFL, as a school manager or coursebook writer or lesson material developer. There are a number of opportunities related to TEFL which don’t involve teaching.
Take Carla, for instance.
Carla is 27 years old and from Barcelona, Spain. She was working in healthcare and social work when she decided to dedicate her free time to do a TEFL course. Carla and her partner found work with an NGO in Mexico and moved there in February 2020. They worked as volunteers, teaching primary and high school learners, as well as caring for turtles! She has since returned to the UK, and teaches online in her spare time.
So if you are considering taking a gap year and wondering what you should do with it, chat to us about teaching English as a foreign language. We promise you won’t regret it – just ask our alumni!
Note: This post was updated 10 May 2022
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Name of course Description Online Level 5 TEFL Course 168-hour Online Level 5 TEFL & grammar course (Plus three free 30-hour Top-Up Online Courses) Online Level 3 TEFL Course 120-hour Online Level 3 TEFL & grammar course (Plus three free 30-hour Top-Up Online Courses) Top-Up Courses 30-hour Online Teaching Young Learners, Teaching Business English and Teaching Online & 1:1 Courses 10hr Online Teaching Practice Course 10 hours of webinar teaching practice course (Learn about classroom management and Q&A with a TEFL expert)
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Students may test their English level here: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/content.
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LAST UPDATED: 5th July 2022
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Everything TEFL Ltd (“we”) are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy.
Everything TEFL Ltd takes the security of and our legal responsibilities around your personal data seriously. This statement explains relevant information about our processing of your personal data collected via this website (“website” or “site”).We aim to always respect your data protection rights in compliance with the latest Data Protection Laws, including the GDPR.
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Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of IrelandTelephone: +1 347 434 9694
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We collect and use personal information to offer people information, products and services. This policy will apply in all locations where we operate to all forms of information and to all systems used to collect, store, process or transfer information.
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- ensuring that actual or suspected breaches of information security are reported and investigated
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We will provide adequate and appropriate resources to implement this policy and will ensure it is communicated and understood.
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We’ll use your personal information to send you direct marketing and to better identify products and services that interest you. We do that if you’re one of our customers or if you’ve been in touch with us another way (such as registering to attend an Everything TEFL Ltd event).
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Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.