How do I become a TEFL teacher?
You want to teach English abroad? Brilliant! To help turn your dream into reality, here’s our five-step guide on how to become a TEFL teacher.
Step 1: Decide to become a TEFL teacher
Fantastic news – you’ve already completed this step. We’re not being silly. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘A thousand mile journey starts with one step’? Assuming you meet the minimum requirements to teach English abroad, taking the decision to actually do it is often the hardest part. And you’re there already!
Step 2: Get TEFL certified
A couple of decades ago, you only needed to be a native English speaker to become a TEFL teacher. These days, almost every reputable TEFL employer (that is one that will employ you legally with reasonable working conditions and pay) will only consider you if you have completed appropriate TEFL training.
Book onto a TEFL certification course lasting a minimum of 120 hours with an accredited provider. This will cover the teaching methodology and practical skills that you need to plan and deliver effective TEFL lessons – and provide you with that critical certificate you require to convince prospective employers that you’re ready to do the job.
Step 3: Look for TEFL jobs
You’ve got your TEFL certificate. Now, you need to find that all-important first job. There are four main routes you can try:
- Apply in person
If you’re already in your destination country, you can apply to schools in person. Dress smartly, bring a (non-tatty!) copy of your CV, then knock on the door of your chosen schools and ask to speak to the person responsible for recruitment. If the school has a vacancy, you may even be hired on the spot.
- Online TEFL jobs boards
TEFL jobs boards advertise TEFL jobs all across the world, so you don’t need to be in the same country as the school to apply for a job. And to make life even simpler for you, LoveTEFL has its very own TEFL jobs board – it’s a great place to start looking.
- TEFL recruitment agencies
TEFL recruitment agencies can take the hassle out of applying for jobs in different countries, particularly if you’re flexible about where you want to work. You’ll usually have an interview in your home country or by Skype before being placed in a school. The recruitment agency should be on hand to ease your way through the preparations. One word of warning: in the UK, it’s illegal for an agency to charge to find you a job. If you’re asked to hand over money solely for a job placement (rather than for valid support services, such as an orientation or an airport pick up) walk away.
- Do a TEFL internship
A TEFL internship can be the perfect way to start your travel adventure and gain amazing TEFL classroom experience. You may need to pay an upfront fee for an internship, but you should then get a whole package of support in return, potentially including TEFL training, in-country orientation, accommodation and meals. You may even get a monthly living allowance on top.
It’s also worth telling everyone you know on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and in real life that you’ve got your TEFL qualification and are looking for a job teaching English abroad. It’s amazing how many people know someone who’s working in TEFL – and may even have a brilliant TEFL vacancy at their school.
Step 4: Sort out the paperwork
Once you’ve found a TEFL job, it’s time for the less glamorous part of working internationally – the paperwork. Depending on your job and destination country, you may need to apply for a work permit and you almost certainly will need a passport that is valid for longer than your intended stay.
Your school should give you the documents you require to apply for your visa, but you will need to make the actual application yourself. This can take several weeks, so make sure you start well in advance.
Step 5: Gather teaching resources
It’s finally time to book that plane ticket and pack your bags. Try to fit in as many pieces of local material as you can, alongside your photos of favourite relations and pets. Tourist leaflets, postcards, receipts and menus all make brilliant lesson resources when you arrive.
And you’re ready! You’re a certified TEFL teacher, ready to head off for the adventure of a lifetime. This is going to be one amazing experience!
Worried about those first lessons? Read our top tips for new teachers and try out our 5 warmers every TEFL teacher should know. You’ll be teaching like a pro in no time!