TEFL Teaching English
Thanks to an education system that has historically held us back on learning other languages, it is perhaps not surprising that many English people do not have a second language. Teaching English as a foreign langauge (known as TEFL) and being able to speak a second language well, is a very valuable skill and one that will stand you in good stead when it comes to job applications. Most of us probably list being able to speak a foreign language high on our wish list, but beyond downloading a free language app on our smart phones, or borrowing a language book from the library for a few weeks before we go on holiday, not many of us get around to doing anything about it. A good TEFL course can change that!
Our TEFL internships allow you to combine valuable teaching experience with an amazing adventure in a beautiful new country. Before you head off, you'll be fully TEFL trained and when you arrive, you'll get all the support you need from our in-country teams.
You may also see reference to TESL Teaching English as a Second Language, ESL English as a Second Language, EFL English as a Foreign Language, ESOL English for Speakers of Other Languages, ELT English Language Teaching TESOL Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages... with no internationally agreed standard, the list is almost endless and reads like a Monty Python sketch. The only major differences are that TEFL is designed for people who want to go into a country where people do not speak English, TESOL can also be for people who want to teach non English speakers who are living in English speaking countries. And TESL would be somewhere between the two - you teach people to speak English in countries where a good chunk of the population already speak English as a first language.
What qualifications will you need?
While a degree in English, or a teaching qualification may well be sufficient for some positions, and a positive requirement for many schools in Western Europe, a recognised TEFL qualification, which will enable you to teach English in a school, workplace, or the home, to students whose first language is not English. This will also vary country to country as some places will have much higher demand for teachers and will not be so concerned about recognised qualifications. It is worth knowing that while qualifications can be an important consideration for companies or public bodies looking to employ you, they will also be interested in how you interact with the students. A native English speaker with great interpersonal skills but not qualifications may do a better job of teaching a class than someone with many certificates but little experience of the role.
You may decide to gain an internationally recognised TEFL qualification to assist your gap year job search. This is a popular move and other than the ability to speak English, you do not usually require any previous qualifications or experience in order to take a TEFL course.
Finding the right TEFL course for you
As we have already seen, there are a lot of different ways to describe the practice of teaching English to people who do not have it as their first language, but there are as many if not more different accreditations and affiliations for the TEFL courses that companies provide. The TEFL course providers try to align themselves with companies and bodies who provide this accreditation, to give their courses more credibility. Anyone can set up and offer a TEFL course, but who is to say they are any good. That is where the accreditation comes in. Unfortunately, anyone can also set up a TEFL accreditation company. Some accreditations are better than others so it is worth doing your research before handing over your money. The genuine companies will be able to demonstrate previous success and provide you with detailed advice about their courses and whether they would suit you. There are plenty of great companies out there, offering great courses that will further your career and experiences, just keep an eye out for the rogues. And if you already have an idea of where you will be teaching English, it may be worth asking your potential or future employers which TEFL courses they recognise.
Once you have decided to take a TEFL course you will need to decide how to study for it. One benefit of the internet has been the development of distance learning. It is quite possible to take a full TEFL course online, allowing you to qualify at your own pace and in your own time. Alternatively you may wish to join others, and get more experience of a classroom environment by taking a location based TEFL course. Many companies also recognise that people work Monday to Friday and may not have time to fit in a course during the week, so they have designed courses that fit into a weekend. Twenty hours of teaching and training and you are qualified. Perfect.
What is it like doing a TEFL course?
OK, so what is involved, what do you have to do? During your course, you will likely cover all or some of the following: writing skills, literature, task based learning, linguistic structures such as words, phrases, verbs and tenses and understanding sentence complexity. Basically, you will be taught how to approach the teaching of English to your future students, to be their teacher, organiser and motivator. You will be shown how to make your teaching methods meaningful and memorable. TEFL courses are not difficult, but they do make you think about how to teach and give you very valuable ideas for when you find yourself in a room full of people who do not speak your language.
I am qualified, where can I teach?
The world is your lobster. Any country you can think of that does not have English as its main language will have opportunities for English teachers. If you are looking for somewhere with high demand, try China or Japan. We list a couple of English teaching gap year opportunities below.