7 Amazing Reasons You Should Do A TEFL Internship

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Deciding to pack your bags and book a ticket to teach English as a foreign language abroad is a big step. After all, it’s a decision which will affect your entire life – from where you live to how much money you’ll earn to how often you’ll see your friends and family. It’s natural to be a bit nervous about taking that first step.

This is why we are firm believers in the power of a TEFL internship. But wait, what exactly is a TEFL internship?

What is a TEFL internship?

A TEFL internship is a short-term teaching position. You might be a teacher or a teaching assistant. It’s 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.

A TEFL internship abroad can also include a TEFL course – so that you are learning the theory of teaching and putting this knowledge into practice simultaneously.

Another difference between a teaching jobs and a TEFL internship 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’s usually just a stipend to cover your living costs. TEFL internships often include extras like local language lessons and cultural excursions. There may be a cost involved in applying for the internship program, but more and more internships are foregoing this cost.

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The different types of TEFL internships abroad

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.

So now we know exactly what we’re talking about, let’s look at seven amazing reasons you should do a TEFL internship.

Read more: Teaching English Abroad In Your Gap Year

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It gets your toes in the water

Even with a TEFL course under your belt, you still might feel a little anxious about standing on your own two feet and teaching an EFL lesson. A TEFL internship gives you a taste of what it’s like to be a TEFL teacher, without throwing you in the deep end. On a TEFL internship you could be a teacher or a teaching assistant, but whatever position you are given you are fully supported. The company you go through will make sure you are supported and looked after at every lesson. This means that any issues you might have with regards to teaching and living in a new location you can bring up with your company.

Read more: Survival Tips for Your First Day in the EFL Classroom: No experience? No Problem!

It puts the theory into practice

A good TEFL course will provide you with all the tools and techniques you need to be an effective TEFL teacher. You will learn the fundamentals of teaching English as a foreign language, including how learners learn best and optimal teaching methods. You will be given an overview of English grammar, as well as the skills and subskills involved in using the language. You will be shown how to plan a lesson and utilise resources well. And while that all sounds well and good on paper, putting the theory into practice is something else entirely. A TEFL internship gives you a chance to put the theory into practice with assistance never being far away.

Read more: 5 Reasons To Quit Your 9-5 And Become A TEFL Teacher

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It’s a short-term solution

A contract for a full-time teaching position is usually between 12 and 24 months. This is a long time to commit to a job you know nothing about. A TEFL internship is usually much shorter – 3 to 6 months. This is enough time to help you feel comfortable in the classroom but also short enough so that if you find it’s not what you expected then you don’t have to wait long until it’s over. Who knows, if you find you really love it you could maybe get a job in the same school you are interning!

It makes life easy

Packing up your life and moving to another country is stressful. Besides the headache of the paperwork which inevitably needs to be done, the sheer amount of unknowns you are walking into can seem overwhelming. As a TEFL teacher, you become accustomed to forging bravely into the unknown on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not scary the first time you do it. A TEFL internship gives you the chance to experience your first move abroad with the support of a company. You are usually met at the airport, taken to your accommodation and given an orientation for a few days. This is a much gentler start to life abroad than going it alone and it will give you the confidence to do it independently the next time.

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It’s a cultural immersion

TEFL internships are not about earning millions of dollars and living a life of luxury. TEFL internships are often unpaid or if you are paid a stipend it won’t be very much. However, your payment is usually in the form of room and board, often with a local family. In other words, your daily costs should be covered. Interns become family members and are given an insight into the local culture that not many foreigners get. At the same time, the company will often organise lessons in the local language or local excursions for you to experience the local culture.

Read more: Culture Shock

Note: some TEFL internships come at a cost, meaning that the teacher pays a certain amount to do the internship programme. Deciding to pay for it is a personal choice, as there are plenty of internships that don’t cost anything. However, often those that are paid for include a TEFL course as well or some form of training.

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It makes you look good

We all know that when applying for jobs, your CV can make or break your chances of getting the job. When it comes to teaching, experience is king. There’s always that catch-22 situation of employers wanting teachers to have teaching experience but not many schools want to be the ones to give the teachers the experience in the first place! A TEFL internship solves that dilemma. You gain invaluable teaching experience which no one can deny, making you very attractive to future employers. As an added bonus, it will give you extra confidence in your own abilities.

You can choose your internship

 In a sense, an internship is a backwards job. With a job, you apply to jobs and accept a position that is offered to you. Whether or not you are given the job depends on the employer, who has all the power. With an internship, you pick and choose one which suits you. You can choose where the internship is, what kind of teaching you’ll do, how long you’ll do it for. It is up to you to choose the best internship for you. It is unlikely an internship position will turn you down if you meet all their requirements – which is usually just a TEFL qualification and a certain level of English.

What it all boils down to is a personal choice. A TEFL internship is not for everyone, but it might be exactly what you are looking for. 

A TEFL internship abroad 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.

But if you are still sitting on the fence about TEFL or are still looking at options for TEFL training or have a TEFL qualification but are overwhelmed by the choices out there, then you should check out our internships page and consider doing a TEFL internship.

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