Do you want to travel the world? Do you want to learn about new cultures while still making money? Do you want to have an impact on the next generation? If so, teaching English may be for you.
Personally, I never thought that I wanted to be a teacher. After all, I was interested in politics and travel, and until last year, I never knew that teaching could be the key to pursuing these interests. As a native English speaker (or even a non-native speaker with fluency), the possibilities for teaching English are endless. With the number of people seeking to learn the language for social and economic reasons, the market is growing at an enormous speed. There are jobs available on every continent and unlike other fields (including mine), businesses and schools are actually competing for teachers rather than the other way around. Whether you have a teaching certification or not, there is a place for you start. Let’s talk about some of your options.
Getting started: obtaining a certification
Types of certifications: ESL, EFL, TEFL, TEFOL, CELTA
A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of websites offering online courses for obtaining your certification. However, some of these can be pretty pricey. One way to get a discounted (or even free) certification is to find a program that provides your certification in exchange for volunteer teaching. The company through which I received my TEFL certification is called Angloville, which offers a TEFL Scholarship to anyone who completes an online course and three programs with them. The online course was quick and easy and the programs allow you to go to Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, or Hungary for a few weeks with free room and board. If you don’t have classroom experience, don’t worry. Angloville programs simply involve speaking with non-native speakers to improve their English. It’s fun and you make lots of interesting friends.
While this is an exciting option, it’s not possible for everyone to take three weeks and travel to Europe. In this case, there are many options online or within the U.S. You might even have a center in your area. Although a certification isn’t necessary for all English jobs, it certainly increases your chances of finding a job you love.
Governments understand the importance of knowing English in the 21st century. As a result, many have created their own programs that place teachers in schools around their country. Some of the most well known are:
- Japan – JET Program
- South Korea – EPIK Program
- Spain – North American Language and Cultural Assistants
- And here is a link with a few more: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/teach-english-abroad-programs/
- The link focuses on the best programs in Asia – http://www.eslinsider.com/blog/best-programs-companies-to-teach-english-in-asia
The only downside to these programs is that they tend to pay less than other options.
There are now countless organizations that accept applications for placement in private learning centers or in schools. Many of these programs offer large benefit packages like free visas, vacation time, language classes, and housing assistance. Some even offer free flights. Here are a few that I’ve looked into:
- English First – China, Russia, Indonesia
- HESS – Taiwan
- Wall Street English – Global
- Premier TEFL – Global (shorter contracts but requires a placement fee)
There are many websites that exist to help you find the perfect teaching job. A few favorites include Dave’s ESL Cafe, EL Gazette, and TEFL.com. Although you can find great opportunities on these websites, you also need to watch out for scams. I have heard stories of people arriving in a new country to teach and not receiving the housing they were promised or not getting paid for months. If this worries you, you may be better off with a more structured program like those sponsored by governments or company placement.
With all of these programs, it is important to do lots of research before committing. Read reviews, talk to current teachers, and compare benefits. Moving across the world to teach isn’t for everyone so really consider all options before signing a year-long contract. Whether you teach for a few years or for a lifetime, it can be an incredible way to see the world, learn about new cultures, and ultimately, change the lives of others.
Check out some pictures from my experiences teaching children in China and adults in Poland. And stay tuned for a post all about teaching English online!