For many graduates and final year students the constant reminder of the depressing state of the current job market is one that we’d rather forget. After moving back in with your parents, feeling stripped of your independence and applying for endless amounts of jobs it can be a long and tiring wait until you start to feel like yourself again! As a result many graduates are opting to take a travelling gap year in order to make the most of their free time. Teaching English abroad can provide invaluable travel experience whilst offering an opportunity for (paid!) continued professional development absolutely anywhere in the world.
What are my options?
Getting a qualification in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is the first step into teaching English abroad. It is important that you take a course accredited by the British Council such as Cambridge CELTA or TRINITY ESOL, as these are recognised worldwide and are generally specified by employers in job advertisements. These courses can be taken at various centres around the UK and generally cost around £1,300. Avoid taking an online course as although these seem attractively flexible, they are often viewed as worthless by employers. A 4-week short course is arguably the most valuable as it is fast paced, demanding, and offers a true, hands-on TEFL experience.
If the expensive price tag is putting you off, then you can enter a career in TEFL as a language assistant and ‘train on the job’. The British Council offer paid language assistant positions in over 10 countries worldwide and Interac exciting opportunities for ALT’s (Assistant Language Teachers) in schools around every region of Japan.
If you don’t like the idea of committing to a longer contract, then working at a children’s summer camp will give you an insight into whether TEFL is the right path for you. Although you’ll work long hours with little time off, the work is extremely rewarding and with no time to spend your money, this is the perfect opportunity to save enough to travel afterwards.
Do your research
It’s a huge step moving to an unfamiliar country so you need to have your wits about you when choosing the right job. Be cautious, not all jobs do what they say on the tin. Research the company before applying to ensure that it’s legitimate and suitable. What does the company provide? Do they pay for flights? What’s the salary like in relation to living costs? How many hours a week will you work? How far is your accommodation from your place of work and the main town? Is it safe there? Generally, the well-established, reputable schools will require you to hold a recognised TEFL qualification and a degree, and will advertise their jobs on accredited websites as mentioned above. Just be sensible and you’ll help to avoid any unwanted situations when you arrive.
Career prospects with TELF
There are plenty of opportunities for career development in TEFL and as a teacher you’re always learning. With one year’s teaching experience you are eligible to take the DELTA course (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) which will qualify you to become a director of studies at a language centre. You could set up your own language school, teach at university level, teach English for business, teach English for academic purposes (EAP), or English for specific purposes (ESP) … and breathe! A career in TEFL can involve teaching English at a Korean kindergarten to teaching Spanish mechanics how to understand the English terminology in their work manuals. Whatever you decide the opportunities are endless and so are the rewards!
If you’re interested in a career in TEFL then it is important to keep up to date with all the latest news. Signing up to websites such as TEFL.com and the British council will ensure that you keep informed about the most recent job vacancies, debates, blogs, and teaching methods.
Useful websites for TEFL, volunteering and working abroad:
http://www.gapyear.com, http://www.gapwork.com, http://www.chatteris.org.hk, http://www.peakhorizon.com, http://www.babylanguages.com, http://www.eslstarter.com, http://www.networkesl.com, http://www.experiencechina.org, http://www.awf-volunteeringabroad.org, http://www.europe-internship.com, http://www.travellersworldwide.com, http://www.outreachinternational.co.uk, http://www.crees-expreditions.com, http://www.returntofreedom.org, http://www.ccusa.com, http://www.hopemission.com, http://www.wildpacks.com, http://www.adventure.co.uk, http://www.goaborad.com, http://www.wwv.org.uk, http://www.isvolunteers.org, http://www.greenforce.org, http://www.responsibletravel.com, http://www.furkidz.co.za, http://www.teflheaven.com, http://www.pncvolunteers.org, http://www.volunteersdirect.co.za, http://www.africaoutlook.org, http://www.chinagateway.com, http://www.vesl.org, http://www.planmygapyear.co.uk, http://www.bunac.org, http://www.teflengland.co.uk, http://www.statravel.co.uk, http://www.realgap.co.uk, http://www.mindthegaptravel.co.uk,