TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a popular option for university graduates – it offers travel and adventure, and requires someone who is outgoing, enthusiastic and open-minded.
If this sounds like you and you’re ready to fly off to a foreign country and look for work, here are some practical tips to help you on your way.
1. Do a TEFL course in the city you’d like to work in
Do you want to work in Shanghai? Do a course there. Does Barcelona sound appealing? You should research courses in that city. By doing a TEFL course in your chosen destination your chances of immediate employment are greatly increased – you’ll meet plenty of key people including the Director of Studies and potential students. You’ll make a lot more immediate job contacts and you’ll also have help navigating a foreign administration system, so you can get set up with a bank account, a social security number, etc.
2. Find some private students
Employers look for someone who has experience but as a new teacher you don’t have any, so how do you break this cycle? Find some private students to practice your newly acquired skills and build up your confidence, so when you apply for a job you can talk about your experience, what a fantastic teacher you are and how happy your students are. Your local TEFL provider should point you in the right direction to pick up some private students.
3. Be proactive and consistent in your job search
It’s a hard truth but nobody is going to find a job for you. You can be given the best tools – help updating your CV, job interview practice, a list of contacts – but in the end doing the legwork and getting that job is down to you. You should be searching the classifieds, visiting schools, handing out your CV and posting ads. As a general rule in the TEFL world, you should be able to pick up some hours with a couple of weeks of consistent effort, and build up to a full timetable in under a month.
4. Be prepared for different interview scenarios
TEFL job interviews are different in that you won’t be asked ‘typical’ job interview questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or, “What are your weaknesses as a teacher?”. Some interviews are quite chatty and informal, whereas in others you will be expected to complete a grammar test and give a 15min demonstration lesson. After completing a TEFL course you will be well-prepared for these scenarios. Language academies look for someone who is friendly, confident and outgoing. During the interview they will be thinking, ‘Is this person capable of delivering a good class, and will the students like them?’ It’s your job to convince them you’re the great teacher they’ve been looking for.
For more information about training to be an EFL teacher or finding a job abroad get in touch with Richard and TEFL Iberia (www.tefl-iberia.com).