The digital era has placed much of modern life online, and employment options are no exception to this rule. In fact, being able to work from home productively is easier than ever, with remote positions all the rage nowadays.
One great example of a career that can be done virtually is that of a TEFL (or Teach English as a Foreign Language) teacher. Asa result, the world becomes much more open, and it is possible to take advantage of the flexibility of the Internet to carve out a niche in this sphere.
Below is a simple guide on how to get the most out of this challenging yet rewarding profession, as well as some easy hints on how to get started. So, read on to find out just how to become a TEFL expert, and help others to grow in their learning journey.
Get a TEFL certification
The first and most obvious place to begin is with a reliable and recognised TEFL certification. Learners want to know that they can learn to speak English with a friendly yet responsible TEFL tutor, and they will feel more at ease in the knowledge that their TEFL instructor has got the right accreditations under their belt.
Beyond this, another advantage of taking a trusted TEFL course is the chance to interact with fellow TEFL newbies, who are in the same boat. This provides the ideal platform for the new TEFL starter to relate to others who are experiencing the same highs and lows of commencing on the TEFL career path.
Additionally, a noted TEFL qualification is likely to be highly sought after by employers and recruiters across the globe, increasing the chances of getting hired more quickly. Consequently, it should be a much smoother course to hit the ground running in this field, and getting the chance to teach faster ought to mean a greater degree of comfort on the job in the short run.
Choose a location
After obtaining the TEFL qualification, the new TEFL instructor is ideally placed to start thinking about where they’d like to travel with it. Many places have eased travel restrictions, making it much easier to go overseas to live and work than just a few months previously.
One hot location in the TEFL world currently is China. With a burgeoning population, and a greater importance placed on learning English, the Chinese system is optimally suited for a new TEFL teacher to learn the ropes.
A huge positive of opting for China is the range of places a newly certified TEFL teacher can go. For example, one might choose to start with the capital city of Beijing, with its rich cultural heritage and wide array of schools and other educational institutions to choose from.
Alternatively, the TEFL beginner could go for a slightly smaller city, such as Guangzhou in the south of China. While this may seem unusual at first, the reality is that these types of cities are actually growing at a faster rate in terms of population, and so a large amount of TEFL experts are in demand there.
Decide on a teaching format
One of the major considerations to think on when making the move to becoming a TEFL educator is whether to teach in person or online, or even a blend of both. There are definitely pros and cons to each, which makes the decision more challenging for some yet easier for others.
Teaching TEFL online enables one to work from anywhere, and at a more flexible time schedule than a conventional TEFL system in person would. Hence, a TEFL tutor could start their day early, go out and enjoy some sightseeing in a growing economy during the middle of the day, and then fit in a few more lessons as the sun goes down.
On the other hand, teaching in person has been a staple of the TEFL world for decades, and is still favoured by many of those who grew up in a more conventional educational setting themselves. The ‘chalk and talk’ method is certainly still popular in many regions, especially those where the average cost of living tends to be a touch lower.
On top of that, many TEFL teachers simply prefer the buzz of an in person classroom, walking around the room to listen to ideas, and engaging students in real life topics and discussions that interest them directly. This is especially true for TEFL instructors who wish to step away from their devices for a while, and get involved in all of the types of tasks that work best in a group setting.
Select an age group
Another large facet of teaching TEFL is to settle on which age group to work with. Again, this is likely to be a highly individual response, based on a number of factors, ranging from the TEFL tutor’s own personality and energy levels, to the teaching strengths they bring with them to their teaching.
For some, the manic and sometimes frenetic energy of a kindergarten group is hard to beat. There are learning moments galore, and never a dull moment while learners get to grips with the latest learning experience.
As elastic as these students’ brains seem to be, they also benefit from playing with the language, so games and activities always go down well. Besides, the days pass quickly, and before the kindergarten TEFL tutor knows it, the school day is already in the books.
For others, a more sedate setting would be in order, such as working with teenage students. By doing this, they can set a steadier pace, with more predictable lesson aims and targets. Additionally, technology can be used more overtly in lessons, from slideshow presentations for new content, all the way to fun and interesting videos that embed the core lesson concepts.
In any case, the choices are there for any new TEFL teacher to think about and work through. It is up to them to prioritise and then come to a decision of their own, to ensure that their TEFL career is worthwhile in both the short term and long term.