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Want to Teach English as a Foreign or Second Language?

Updated on April 22, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Beth is an entrepreneur. She writes about employment issues, ways to earn money and how to get best value when spending it.

Prepositions of place.
Prepositions of place. | Source

Teach English and Travel Overseas

Are you looking for a change of career? Maybe you want to see the world and help others at the same time? If your mother tongue is English, the answer could be teaching. An intensive four-week training course will equip you to teach English to speakers of other languages. You can help them improve their written and spoken English language skills. In return you will gain a new outlook on the world and experience other cultures.

English is the official language in large parts of the globe. It’s also the language of international commerce, so there are many non-native speakers who want to learn to speak English. Some of them want to learn the basics, but many are looking to improve their fluency so they can have better career prospects. This means there are opportunities to teach English to adults from beginners to more advanced levels. You can choose between teaching English in a foreign country where you are the stranger. Or you could teach English in your own country to non-native speakers who want to immigrate and learn about your way of life.

In dark blue, countries with significant concentrations of native speakers of English; in light blue, other countries in which English is an official or important administrative language.
In dark blue, countries with significant concentrations of native speakers of English; in light blue, other countries in which English is an official or important administrative language. | Source

What Qualities Do You Need to Teach?

1. To be a great teacher you must want to teach. It helps if you enjoy learning about new things and different cultures.

2. Successful teachers are enthusiastic. Teaching can be hard work and you need to spend many hours preparing lessons, but your reward is to see students gain confidence in speaking English.

3. Teaching English can help you travel overseas. You can take the opportunity to homestay with local people and some of your students may become lifelong friends.

4. The pay is not great unless you study at a higher level for the DELTA and become a senior teacher of director of studies. So, money is not your prime motivator if you are going to teach English to non-native speakers.

5. It’s a bonus if you have a sociable and out-going personality. Teaching has been compared to the acting profession. You need to put a lot of energy and effort into your lessons, no matter how tired or hung-over you are.

Teaching English as a Second Languge

English language students studying.
English language students studying. | Source

Common Acronyms in English Language Teaching

Acronym
What it Stands For
TEFL
Teaching English as a Foreign Language
TESOL
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
CELTA
Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
DELTA
Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults
IELTS
International English Language Testing System

Should You Study the CELTA?

Very few jobs are available for unqualified candidates so you should study (and pass) an intensive 4 week TEFL or TESOL course. The most widely accepted qualification is CELTA (the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).

CELTA is an initial teacher training qualification for teaching English as a second or foreign language. It is run under the supervision of Cambridge University, England but can be studied in many countries around the world. The fees vary depending on the location, but expect to pay around US $2,000 for four weeks tuition. Your accommodation costs will be on top of this.

To give you an idea of what the course involves I recommend you read Learning Teaching: The Essential Guide to English Language Teaching by Jim Scrivener. It’s a comprehensive reference book that covers all you need to know about teaching English overseas to adult students.

The video below shows one teacher’s positive experiences. She explains why she got CELTA certification and how she chose where to study. She describes the teaching skills covered by the course and what her first teaching experience was like.

The CELTA Experience and Teaching English Abroad

Improve Fluency by Practicing Speaking and Listening

English language teaching covers the skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Most students don’t realize teachers plan lessons to get them to practice each skill in every session. You will learn on your intensive initial teacher training course how to plan effective lessons.

If you run out of ideas, YouTube is a great source of additional material for lesson planning, especially the videos produced by The British Council. The one below is about how to listen.

IELTS is a qualification that many of your students will be aiming for. It is a globally recognized measure of fluency in the English language. When someone applies for a work visa in UK or US, it is an advantage to be able to show English language fluency to a specified IELTS level. For example, to be accepted onto a UK University undergraduate level course, a student would be expected to have achieved IELTS level 6 or 7.

IELTS Listening Tips from the British Council

Would You Like to Teach English Overseas?

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English Language Teaching in Other Settings

Once you have your CELTA or other TEFL or TESOL qualification, the world’s your oyster. You could teach in a conventional school or classroom. Or you could take advantage of other avenues.

1. The internet. Some students don’t have the time or the money to join a class so they prefer to take ad hoc lessons online. You can join an existing English language tutor website and in exchange for advertising your skills they take a cut of any fees you earn. Alternatively, you could create your own website and using social networks broadcast your availability for teaching English. You would give lessons via VOIP like Skype or Facetime and receive payment via PayPal or other online payment system.

2. Total immersion learning. Some overseas students want to stay in a tutor’s home and experience both the language and culture of a country. They become a part of your family. In exchange for the fee you take them with you on your family outings as well as giving them some formal grammar lessons. This type of teaching can be financially rewarding but is also very time consuming and exhausting.

3. Whichever kind of alternative teaching you do make sure the fees are agreed in advance. Discuss with your student the type of English (US or British) they wish to learn as spellings, pronunciations and word meanings differ. Agreeing these kinds of things upfront can help avoid misunderstandings or refusal to pay for work done. Teaching English to speakers of other languages can be a satisfying career and can take you to many interesting places.

Further Information to Train as a TEFL or TESOL Teacher

If you live or want to train as a teacher in English for speakers of other languages in the UK or US have a look at the Cambridge English Language Assessment website. www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/teaching-qualifications/celta/

If you are based in Australia or Asia Pacific then IDP Education is a good place to start. www.idp.com

For an international website that covers English language tests recognised worldwide go to the IELTS website. www.ielts.org

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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 months ago from SW England

      Hi Beth! I did a TEFL course in '74. I was already a qualified teacher but learnt much more about the practicalities of teaching on my TEFL course than I did during 3 years in college! It was great fun.

      I taught in an English Language School in London for 18 months, then did a few summer residentials for visiting foreign students; all great fun.

      I've since used my knowledge to help dyslexic students who also had a first language other than English, when I worked at a specialist school for dyslexics here in Somerset for 14 years.

      It's important to choose good courses from reputable centres, as I know some people who have done a few hours at so-called teaching schools and they know little about the basic grammar and application of English - those people should not be teaching others how to speak and write English!

      Great hub with invaluable advice. It is indeed a good way to subsidise travel and see the world whilst helping others too.

      A belated Happy New Year to you, Beth!

      Ann

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