Making a career out of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Watch

Becka24601
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Hello!

Last night I came across the TEFL website and thought that it would be an amazing thing to do! My plan is to go and do a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and then do a TEFL internship. I just wanted to know really whether I could potentially make a living out of this or whether I would have to have another plan (I am still unsure of what I want to do). Are the jobs just short-term or are there long-term options too? I know it all partly depends on where you go, I want to work in Europe if that is any help, simply because of medical reasons. Also, what are the most common age group to be working with? I would like to work with primary age children if possible.

Has anyone ever done / doing this? What do you think of it? Typically, what do you do and how do you teach?

Thank you!
Rebecca
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greenbeans123
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Hi Rebecca

For a lot of people (myself included) TEFL is something you do for a few of years in your 20s. It's a great way to see the world, experience other cultures, and put off 'settling down' for a while. I have to mention that a lot of jobs in the EU aren't very well-paid, especially if you're a newbie, so they might not be suitable for an older person with a family to support. (I should also point out that the CELTA or Trinity TESOL are the bare minimum you need for working in the EU).

That said, yes, I definitely met people who made it their career. Usually this means finding a better paid job (maybe building up a good rep and going 'freelance', maybe going into school management, maybe getting a PGCE and working in an international school, maybe specialising in Business English?). This might mean getting more advanced qualifications like a Masters or the DELTA.

Conditions really vary. I strongly suggest you look at Dave's ESL cafe forums and see what people are saying about the country/countries where you most want to work (average salary, contract length, management, usual age of students).

To give you some idea, in my old job, working for a private language school in a not particularly rich Central European country (think ex-communist), I taught 27ish hrs a week (plus planning/marking etc). I got about 500 euros a month, plus accommodation (a small flat shared with other teachers), food vouchers and travel costs, plus the cost of my flights in/out of the country. They HAD to pay for travel as a large part of the job was schlepping across the city to different places. I taught in primary schools, offices/workplaces, and in the central school location. So this meant I was teaching little kids, teens, adults. Class sizes varied from 1-to-1 to 14 or so. The management were pretty good and we got regular career development workshops, as well as observations, personal development programs, the opportunity to go to conferences.

I have to say you would be snapped up at that school as a lot of the teachers prefer/insist on only teaching adults! Your willingness to teach little ones is a definite bonus! TBH even though goods were slightly cheaper than UK, I struggled on that low wage. (I had a much better lifestyle teaching in Asia, as I believe is typical). I had a 1 year contract and left after the year, but some of my old colleagues renewed their contracts, got a pay rise and are still there now! I found that job hard work (mostly the being on the move all day) and stressful but I know they really love it. And when I see their facebook pics of some beautiful palace or gorgeous village in the mountains I sort of wish I'd stayed!
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Baron of Sealand
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If you want a career, wouldn't a proper teaching qualification such as a PGCE be better?
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FormerlyHistoryStudent
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(Original post by clh_hilary)
If you want a career, wouldn't a proper teaching qualification such as a PGCE be better?
There's no need to get a PGCE in order to make a career from EFL, unless you want to teach at a junior or secondary school in the UK. Even then, I don't think the PGCE course includes anything on specifically teaching English as a Foreign Language. A CELTA and the Trinity equivalent are both 'proper' teaching qualifications - they are the best qualifications you can get for this career. If you continue on to the DELTA then all the better if you want to go on to management positions.

Although some people do only teach EFL for a year or two (especially in Asia, it seems), there are plenty who make a career out of it. I'm still within my first year of teaching but I fully intend to make a full career out of it. I intend to do the DELTA within the next couple of years and I might branch out and do other related things as well (like becoming a Cambridge examiner) but as far as I can tell so far, I don't think I'll ever want to stop teaching as well.
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Baron of Sealand
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(Original post by FormerlyHistoryStudent)
There's no need to get a PGCE in order to make a career from EFL, unless you want to teach at a junior or secondary school in the UK. Even then, I don't think the PGCE course includes anything on specifically teaching English as a Foreign Language. A CELTA and the Trinity equivalent are both 'proper' teaching qualifications - they are the best qualifications you can get for this career. If you continue on to the DELTA then all the better if you want to go on to management positions.

Although some people do only teach EFL for a year or two (especially in Asia, it seems), there are plenty who make a career out of it. I'm still within my first year of teaching but I fully intend to make a full career out of it. I intend to do the DELTA within the next couple of years and I might branch out and do other related things as well (like becoming a Cambridge examiner) but as far as I can tell so far, I don't think I'll ever want to stop teaching as well.
If you mean you will tutor as a career, you do not even need a CELTA.

There are lots of programmes on teaching English as a second language, bachelors and masters. You just need to look for institutes that are not in English-speaking countries.
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