Teaching English as a foreign language (commonly referred to as TEFL) can be a rewarding career. In fact, many students studying in a foreign country find jobs tutoring others for extra cash. For those that want to make a career out of teaching English as a foreign language, you will require schooling or training of some kind.
The qualifications necessary to teach English as a foreign language vary depending on the company or the country. However, for the most part, you should have an undergraduate degree in any subject and certification to teach English, although some companies or countries may require that you complete a program consisting of at least 100 hours of coursework. You do not need to be a native English speaker in order to work in the TEFL field, although it does help in many ways.
If you are planning to teach in a language school, specific certifications may be required. For example, it is possible to complete smaller programs or take online courses to receive certification to teach English as a foreign language; however, language schools may require more. The most widely accepted certifications are CertTESOL and CELTA. In addition, some language schools may require you to participate in an in-house training program for instructors. Although some extremely high-demand areas may have no legal requirements for teachers of English as a foreign language, these should be viewed with caution and should be checked to see if credits are given based on life experience, previous teaching, or native English fluency.
One of the biggest draws to this particular field is the fact that you are able to travel all over the world, immersing yourself in cultures that interest you most. Another great perk is that, depending on where you teach, you can often receive room and board as part of the package for teaching at the school. This is especially true if you are in a remote or rural area; such schools provide incentives to attract teachers. You might also be able to teach in exchange for attending classes of your own if you want to study at a local university or school.
Some companies provide teachers to areas that need TEFL professionals. If you do not already have your certification when looking into this type of a career option, you may want to find a company or group for which you would like to work or a country you would like to visit and find out what the requirements are. This will help to ensure that you have the requirements and qualifications necessary before you apply.
Salary may vary depending on who you work for or where you are working. Keep in mind that training and experience will affect the rate. Also make sure to keep an open mind about the cost of living, which varies from country to country; what is considered a poor wage or not even minimum wage in one country could equal a very comfortable lifestyle in another. If room and board are included as part of the benefits of the job, your wages may be lower, but you will not have to spend money on housing. Contract lengths vary, but are usually for 6, 10, or 12 months. Depending on the contract and country, airfare and travel expenses may be included (either one way or round trip).
Although not a requirement, you should have at least a passing knowledge—in reading, writing, and speaking—of the language in the country in which you will work. This can provide you with not only an added benefit of making classes easier if you have to explain something, but it also makes it easier to communicate with the people for whom you are working. Many misunderstandings that can arise with these types of jobs occur because of an issue with linguistic and cultural differences.
Finally, remember that with the right qualifications in some countries you can actually teach within the private or public school systems rather than having to teach in language schools or with companies. Moreover, you do not have leave the United States or other English-speaking countries in order to be a teacher of English as a foreign language as a number of English as a second language (ESL) schools as well as programs for adults exist in these countries. Teaching English as a foreign language can be a great way to see the world; in addition, the qualifications are not hard to get and are relatively inexpensive. Depending on your employer, you may even be able to obtain training on the job.