What is TEFL?
A TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language, program is one of the most popular options for two types of working travellers: those looking for teaching experience, and those looking to improve their own language skills.
You'll live in a foreign country, experiencing all that it has to offer, while instructing non-native English speakers, gaining valuable teaching experience by helping them to grow their skills.
About Teaching English as a Foreign Language
In today's global economy, the ability to speak multiple languages is a highly valuable skill. Being an english language teacher abroad is a great way to gain practical experience and pad your CV to make you stand out.
TEFL jobs abroad are an ideal option for travellers who want to get out of their comfort zone, and into a new culture.
What to Expect from TEFL Jobs Abroad
Regardless of which TEFL program you're interested in, you'll be able to expect certain things:
Fully Accredited & Reputable
Minimum Length: 3-4 Months
Use of Teaching Facilities
Teaching Materials Provided
Training & Support Provided
Types of TEFL Jobs Abroad
There's no right or wrong choice - it simply depends on which option you feel is the best fit for you. There are 2 main ways to teach english overseas:
Option 1: Join a TEFL-certified program
Certified TEFL programs are your best bet if you want to boost your CV as much as possible. They're typically set in a more rigid classroom structure, providing you with valuable teaching experience in a traditional instructor setting.
For the right candidates, it can be easy to get a TEFL certification and teach English abroad, but many TEFL employers, as well as the countries they operate in, will require you to have a degree in order to be hired. This can present somewhat of a barrier to travellers who are looking to gain teaching experience during a gap year.
Pros: Highest level of qualification
Cons: Higher barrier to entry
Option 2: Find a TEFL alternative
If the more rigidly-structured certified TEFL route doesn't feel quite right for you, or if you don't feel that you meet the requirements, there are plenty of alternatives that will allow you to teach English abroad without a degree.
Rather than getting a TEFL certification, it's possible to gain teaching experience elsewhere. A perfect next step could be to teach English in China as a summer camp activity, which will provide invaluable experience within the industry of teaching English abroad.
Pros: More flexible, lower barrier to entry
Cons: Lower level of qualification
Option 3: Go it alone
You can always elect to go it alone, and get a TEFL certification through an online course. However, this is quite risky, as online certifications will typically not be trusted or seen as valid by potential employers in another country.
Rather than find yourself alone and jobless in a foreign country, the safest route is always to go with a certified work and travel program, whether TEFL-oriented or not.
Alternative TEFL Jobs Abroad
Teach english abroad summer programs and Au Pair arrangements provide opportunities for travellers who would like to teach English overseas, but don't want the rigid structure of traditional TEFL programs.
You may come across different acronyms, such as:
TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
ELT (English Language Teaching)
ESL (English as a Second Language)
These terms are interchangeable, and usually mean the same thing. For a full breakdown, check out this blog on the difference between TEFL and TESOL, as well as a few others.