Teach English Abroad? Teach English Abroad!
Since I was in second grade, I always toyed with the thought that being a teacher was my life’s “it” factor. It allows you to help people, make an impact in their lives, not to mention you get great summer vacations! So, after graduating University, I decided to give teaching a real chance.
One of the most interesting and easy ways to go abroad is teaching English, and for me, these were two things I quite wanted to do. English is such an asset for the rest of the world that often we take for granted the fact that we are native speakers of it. So, my advice to you is: if you want to go abroad and you have inkling to teach, get your TEFL certificate.
There are a zillion different kinds of certificates you can find, all ranging in cost. You can find specific kinds of TEFL certificates based on what a certain school requires, or you can find general certificates that would let you teach anywhere in the world. I got the second and as a result, have been able to travel to different countries teaching English.
I received mine from the TEFL institute. They have classes you can take for a month or so in the country you’d like to teach in, but I chose to do the online class due to my hectic schedule pre-travel. Overall, I learned a lot of good information regarding English rules of grammar as well as teaching tips, but I think that an in-class classroom experience would be more beneficial. You would get more presentation experience and immediate feedback on your lesson plans in addition to a chance to actually put some of your activities to practice and see how well they work before you actually start teaching and using them.
My actual first year teaching experience was quite unique in the sense that I didn’t work at very structured schools immediately. In the beginning, I took whatever job was offered and, sadly for me, that meant that I wasn’t given classroom materials or even an idea of what I was supposed to be teaching my students. I had to assess their level myself on the first day and completely come up with a syllabus and materials on my own (which, as a first time teacher, is a terrifying thought).In the end, it made me learn to be a teacher quickly, but I wouldn’t wish it upon any new teacher.
As I found new jobs, I was able to immerse myself in an environment where lesson plans were checked, I was observed and given feedback, and I was given a list of outcome goals for each class I taught. This structure and commitment has greatly improved my teaching skills, more so than my first experiences teaching or my online TEFL class.
So while TEFL classes range in helpfulness and information, your overall in-class working experience is really what makes or breaks you. You can study personality types, grammar rules, and games for years, but unless you put these ideas into practice and deal with a plethora of students, you never will know how to be a great teacher.
Teaching is terrifying at times, but once you build experience and therefore confidence as a teacher, the rest comes easily.
I am still playing with the idea that teaching could be my life’s “it” factor, but for now I need to see what else is out there.
Let me know what you other TEFL teachers or soon-to-be TEFL teachers have experienced and what programs you’ve chosen to receive your certificates!