Plenty of people have stared out of an office window at dreary skies and wondered if this is all life has to offer them. Or daydreamed at school about flying somewhere warm with a beach that would give them a job as well. Or maybe you’ve listened to tales of exploration and derring-do from other people, seen the photos – hello Facebook/Insta/Snapchat – and felt a pull of pure lust for something just a little bit different than the 9 -5 rat race that’s staring at them down the gun barrel.
Everyone wants a good job, right? Everyone wants to like their job, right? But how many people actually get to pick something like teaching abroad as their career? How many people can fund themselves through Uni, through a PGCE, through gaining a TEFL certification from a reputable company and then reliably secure their dream job at the end of it? It’s not impossible, but it’s not a path open to everyone. That said, if you’re determined to make it happen then the opportunities are out there for you.
All that is if you want a career in teaching. Things can be a little bit different if you just want to travel, take in as many countries, cultures and languages as you can, just be prepared that funding this type of extended travel doesn’t come cheap. You can work and save up for it as one option, but it does kind of limit the amount of time you have. And there’s only so many bar jobs that you can take as you move around the globe. What about a way to maintain a steady income whilst living the dream? Something that as a native/fluent English speaker will come naturally to you and definitely give you the ability to make a difference to people, perhaps enable them to chase their dreams too. Enter the concept of TEFL abroad. But how do you make that a reality? Good question. Well, it’s a number of things, actually.
- Have confidence and believe in yourself and your abilities.
- Make a plan for where you want to get to, how you’re going to do it – and then stick to it.
- Be prepared to leave your current comfort zone.
With those bits out of the way, let’s see what these steps are to be able to teach English abroad.
How much are you prepared to commit? Because commitment is a concept that you will need in spades. Also, time. You’re going to need a lot of that too. And preparation. And funds….and…and…and – you get the picture. This isn’t something that you can take on lightly so it’s important to think big and carefully evaluate everything that will be involved in this venture. Don’t do it because everybody else is, do it for your own right reasons. And then make a list starting with choosing a TEFL course and ending with the sum of money you’ll need to get started and to keep you going each month. In between decide where you’d like to teach and who you’d like to teach. Not personally, but adults or children? Within a school or 1 – 1 tuition? You have choices, so take advantage of them. A very important point is: if you decide ultimately that it’s not the right choice for you right now, you don’t have to rule it out forever. You can still learn about what you would need to do if you wanted to do it in the future. That way, if an opportunity comes up then you’ll be in the best place to seize it.
Qualifications – do you have them? At a minimum you’re going to need a 120 hour TEFL certification. A classroom-based element is an advantage, though not essential. Apart from anything else, it shows that you have invested considerable time, money and energy into following your dream and that you understand the complexities that might come with TEFL abroad. Simply speaking English is not going to get you any jobs. Obviously you need to be 18 or over, you can technically enrol when you’re 16 but realistically paid jobs won’t happen until you’re at least 18. If you want to teach in a language school or University or as an in-house teacher for a business then you’re going to need a degree too, a BA at minimum and some places require a Masters as well.
Other advantages. This is a fairly simple formula – the more experience you have, the more opportunities you’ll have and the more you can potentially earn. Teaching experience comes in all shapes and sizes; pretty much anything done in a classroom counts. And if you’re looking for ways to bolster your experience without having access to a classroom, how about volunteering? There are usually organisations with children that need help with volunteering. You’ll need to pass a background check though before you can be offered anything.
OK, with those steps covered it’s time to look around at the different TEFL courses and what they offer because you need to find one that suits you. Then you’ll be going into this with some idea of what’s out there because you’ve already done your comprehensive research (or you should have). Some tips for this one:
- Read at least a few TEFL websites.
- Read some reviews of various companies.
- Aim to talk to 3/4/5 different companies before you make your decision. Really reach out to them.
Once you’ve done this with a few companies it means that you’re on their radar. Sure, they’ll be asking a lot of questions about you, but don’t forget that you should also be asking some questions of them. Such as:
- What does their application process look like?
- Can I speak to previous students about the course you’re offering? Will you be able to put me in touch with them?
- What’s included in this course and what makes this programme stand out among others?
It’s also a good idea to hit the internet and see how big they are on social media and how many ways you can contact them. Phone? Email? Through social media? Once you’ve started this it’s going to be important that you maintain good communication with the company for stuff like checking you’re on the right track with everything, or asking for help or voicing any concerns or queries. A company who doesn’t have a big presence online might be one to avoid. But that’s up to you to decide.
So if you have courage and conviction in your ideas and plans, there really aren’t that many barriers to hurdle to make your dream come true.