Teaching English as a Foreign Language has become a recognised profession in its own right. More and more overseas teaching establishments insist on qualified native English speakers with at least two years overseas teaching experience.
Required qualifications would often be a 100 hour recognised TEFL certificate with observed teaching practice; a TEFL Diploma from a university or other recognised teacher training college. Many language colleges also insist that EFL teachers hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline and that they have two references from recent employers.
Gone are the days when a native speaker could simply walk into a language school and start teaching. Even the ever increasing independent Callan schools are now asking for teachers to be qualified to at least TEFL Certificate level.
So the bottom line is if you want future employers to take you seriously, get qualified!
There are plenty of TEFL courses around; you could start by searching TEFL.com.
4 week TEFL courses often begin at one thousand British pounds sterling.
Many EFL teachers find that they are underpaid and it is not uncommon for a language school to close down without notice. Still interested?
The plus points are that you get to travel to far off places and meet wonderful people along the way.
My journey began at the grand old age of 42 whilst getting bored with driving taxis around the Welwyn Hatfield areas of Hertfordshire in the UK.
I decided to take a TEFL Certificate course in London and little did I know what an incredible journey I was about to embark upon. I had grown up in the poorer part of Welwyn Garden City in a typical working class family. The tiny damp concrete house we lived in in Edgars Court has since been pulled down.
By a strange coincidence, those run down houses were also refuge to the author of Spartacus – JL Mitchell whose pen name was Lewis Grassic Gibbon. He lived in Edgars Court after arriving in Welwyn Garden City from Scotland and upon the success of Spartacus, Mitchell moved to the town’s slightly more affluent Handside Lane.
My English education really began by chance, albeit I’m a native English speaker. One cold morning during the early part of 1964 at the tender age of eight, I was knocked over by a car whilst making my usual trip across a busy main road in order to get to school.
A car came round a slight bend in the road missing some people who were already in the middle of the road and clattered straight into me.
Hospital report: fractured right femur – resulting in several months’ of treatment.
Now you’ve heard the old saying “God works in mysterious ways”, well this could well apply to this accident of fate. During two separate stays in hospital I was treated to books and comics galore – my interest in reading had suddenly taken off.
I must have read everything from Charles Dickens to Superman.
Upon my eventual return to school I found to my surprise that my classmates were now at a much higher level in maths than I was and the fact that I had two separate stays in hospital meant that I fell even further behind. Even today, I’m amazed that the teachers failed to pick up on this at the time allowing me to become completely out of my depth in such an important subject.
And here’s what happened in the English class – you guessed right, I out performed the other kids from adjectives to adverbs to spelling and dictionary work. It was like I was being slowly conditioned for work as a future EFL teacher, yet I didn’t know it at the time.
I’ve since gained a few more qualifications in English after having left school at 15 without any qualifications and dropping out of college after just three weeks. I spent 3 years doing every kind of menial task and low paid job that you can imagine before going into local factory work and ending up driving a cab in and out of London and the Home Counties.
These were occupations which I had become tired of and seeing the same old faces in and around Welwyn and Hatfield was just as bad. I needed a breath of fresh air and it came via the Guardian’s Tuesday educational supplement.
I answered an advertisement for a newly qualified EFL teacher to work in Eskisehir, Turkey. I didn’t know anything about Turkey – in actual fact I had to look it up on the map to see where it was.
The school had around 1,000 students aged from 5 to 19 with the average age being around 13. I found myself in at the deep end and apart from an earlier summer school job in England, I had very little experience of teaching.
That all changed very quickly. My classes consisted of 30 kids and I proved to be a very popular teacher. I also got to know some of their parents but the greatest moments were seeing the kids happy smiling faces on a daily basis. My zest for life had returned and I was soon to travel across Turkey and beyond.
My initial contract was for a year but I loved the city and people of Eskisehir so much that I ended up staying for two years. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. There was a downside when my apartment shook like crazy following a terrifying earthquake which shook much of the country.
Three weeks later I spent a weekend in Athens, Greece when another earthquake took place. The moral of this story is that when you leave the comfort of your own world to teach and travel, you will be presented with all kinds of dangers but that’s what makes travel so exciting.
Forget your fears, and get on with your life – it’s a precious gift that’s too short to waste.
Teach English and travel.