TEFL and Travel – What You Need to Know

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Now that we’re all stuck indoors, and unemployment is at an all-time high, the question for many of us remain is what is next? If you suffer from wanderlust and are wondering how to spend the next few weeks/months – a qualification in Teaching English as a foreign language might be right up your alley. TEFL and Travel are two bedfellows that are often found hand in hand!

Maybe the most common reason for anybody taking a TEFL course is to see the world. Of the Irish people that graduate from college or university each year, more and more are deciding that going to teach English in a foreign country is the best next-move for them.

TEFL and Travel Go Hand in Hand

It is a good idea to take a TEFL course before you set out. Potential employers will want to see that you have the skills and experience needed to teach English adequately, while the confidence and teaching methods you pick up during the course will also be extremely useful when you actually have to teach the class.

The TEFL option has now become almost the standard choice for those who wish to experience living in a different culture and earn some money to support themselves while doing so, and when borders open up and travel resumes this will continue. Where Irish people inevitably used to find themselves working behind a bar no matter whichever far flung corner of the globe they turned up in, now they are more likely to see teaching English as the better option (which doesn’t rule out them ever setting foot in a foreign bar after work, of course).

A Qualification that Leads to Work

Those armed with a TEFL qualification have a huge number of potential destinations to choose from. There are no official statistics available for Irish global TEFL teacher numbers, but it is fair to assume that there are now many thousands of Irish people teaching English as a foreign language all over the world. There are an estimated 3,000 Irish English language teachers in South Korea alone, and many, many others throughout Europe, Asia and South America.

Different people will have different ideas of what is best for them. There really are English language schools in every corner of the globe, with exotic destinations such as China, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Guatemala and Brazil all very possible. Other people might be drawn to huge urban centres (both near at hand and far away) such as Paris, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Seoul and Tokyo. Even countries where English is the first language – such as the USA and Australia – offer opportunities to TEFL trained teachers.

Learn and Adapt

Teaching English within a society means that you become firmly embedded in the local scene. Many teachers make friends with their students and the other staff at schools, meaning they become less of a tourist or visitor in the new country, and more of a part of the local community. A great thing about teaching English abroad is that you are actually contributing to the society in which you choose to live and work. Learning English can be a very positive thing for the people in your classes, and can make a real difference to their lives. Students are often enthusiastic, and want to learn. Being a part of this can prove more rewarding to your typical Irish graduate than delivering up the perfect pint of Guinness.

There are also some very solid career reasons for people to move to another country to teach English. While you are teaching English in the classroom, you can be improving your own foreign language skills outside. In today’s globalised labour market, having experience and knowledge of other cultures is invaluable. People who are considering moving to another country full-time, can use a TEFL course and English language teaching post as an invaluable ‘foot in the door’. Then when they have taken the opportunity to learn the language and culture etc, they can move on to a job in the foreign country that may more in tune with their own university degree or career aims.

Jobs Available Internationally

There are plenty of TEFL jobs available all over the globe. A simple Google search for ‘TEFL + job’ will bring up thousands of positions worldwide. However, it is very important to look carefully at the issues involved in moving to a new country. As well as the beaches and nightlife, English language teachers should consider other factors about their intended destination – including the economy and internal political situation of the country, reputation of the school, climate and size of TEFL industry. It can be a great idea to talk to someone who has taught at the school, or at least at a similar institution in the same place, before making any final decision.

While the ‘travel until you run out of money, then start to think about finding a job’ tactic sounds tempting to some, it is probably a good idea to have a job arranged out before you leave. Many agencies, companies and schools offer recruiting services which can be more than useful. You can pursue this option upon gaining your TEFL qualification, or you can take a course with them – often they will be able to place you with a school, either in Ireland, or abroad.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Before flying half way across the world, TEFL teachers should have agreed conditions such as what sort of contract will you receive, how many hours will you teach, how much and in what way you will be paid and if there are any additional non-teaching duties involved. Assistance with areas such as finding accommodation and about banking and tax issues is always a good sign that a school is committed to looking after their staff after they arrive.

Search TEFL courses that work for you here.


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