If you are looking for career options in teaching or if you are looking to spend any time travelling the world, you may well have heard of TESOL or perhaps TEFL (often assumed to be the same thing) and you may even have considered doing a course.
There are plenty of good reasons to take a TESOL or TEFL course, more than you might have already considered; which is probably why more people than ever before are taking them. See if any of these reasons appeal to you!
Do you know the difference? The two certificates are similar and often even interchangeable, but a TESOL course is subtly different…
- TESOL: Teaching English to speakers of other languages
- TEFL: Teaching English as a second language
The distinction is that TESOL courses are often more applicable to people who want to teach in their own country, whilst TEFL teachers normally go overseas to teach, at least for the first year or two. For this article we will treat them as being interchangeable, but you should consider which is the best fit for you based on your goals.
Reason 1: To Travel
This is the obvious one isn't it? You could save up and travel, but that is hard work. Teaching abroad isn't easy of course, but it does give you the opportunity to see the world and get paid a reasonable wage at the same time.
Of course you won't have the same freedom as someone travelling on savings, but you can in principal travel indefinitely by moving from place to place as you teach.
Reason 2: To Make A Difference
There are few jobs more rewarding than teaching, but the truth is that pupils in the west often don't want to be there. Teaching in less developed countries is a pleasure because the children really appreciate (for the most part) you being there. If you want job satisfaction, teaching overseas is a good way to go!
Reason 3: To Start A Career
There is an image of TEFL/TESOL teachers all being young people who want to travel and party, but the reality is that many people take TEFL courses as a way to start a career. As you gain experience you can earn a very good wage in some countries.
Alternatively, you can get a couple of years' experience overseas and then use those transferable skills to launch a teaching based career in your own country. So you are travelling the world whilst building your employability back home!
Reason 4: Teaching At Home
There are lots of people in the UK & USA (or wherever you live) who need to learn English, so don't assume that you have to travel. If you are trying to think of a new career, this could be the answer.
Typical jobs would be in tutoring or working for teaching companies who offer courses to first generation immigrants and refugees. These courses are designed to help people integrate better into the country that they are living in.
Reason 5: Experience A Culture
When travelling, try as you might you can miss out on the real culture of the places you visit, but when teaching abroad you will be forced to spend time with local children, teachers and parents. You will get a much more â€˜real' insight into life in your host country.
Reason 6: Learn A Language
The globe is getting smaller and smaller and the advantages to being able to speak a second language are great. Teaching English may give you the opportunity to immerse yourself into another language and whilst you are teaching one language you can also learn another.
A couple of years teaching in China (for instance) will give you the chance (if you try hard) to achieve a high level of Chinese, which could pay off dividends in the future when looking for jobs.
Reason 7: Learn Your Own Language
They say the best way to learn is by teaching and many people who take up teaching English find that they learn a lot of the language they speak. You might well discover just how poor your own English speaking is!
In all seriousness though, a year teaching might improve your grammar and diction and that could make you more employable in the future.
Reason 8: Learn New Skills
Learning to teach, coping in a foreign country, living far away from your friends and family… These are all challenges which will teach you new skills and these skills will make you a more confident rounded person.
Reason 9: Gain Confidence
If you lack confidence, the idea of standing in front of a class of any size might seem scary. In fact, it is scary, but there is nothing like facing those fears to help you become more confident.
Reason 10: Escape The Recession
And finally, if you are struggling to find work at home, rather than wasting your time in a boring job, why not escape overseas, enjoy yourself whilst gaining all of those benefits above? Working in McDonalds won't help your career prospects, but becoming a TEFL/TESOL teacher might.
This post was brought to you by Robert and the guys at ICAL TEFL, who provide accredited TEFL courses and all sorts of resources for anyone considering a move to teaching English.