TEFL guide: Get paid to teach English abroad
Ever thought about teaching English abroad? Find out how to get a TEFL qualification, how to find a job overseas plus the biggest perks of the whole experience.
Whether you’re thinking about moving into teaching, or you’re looking for a job abroad while on a gap year, it’s definitely worth considering teaching English abroad.
There are a number of different ways you can do this. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) opportunities vary widely depending on where you choose to travel, how much time and money you’re able to spend on training, and which TEFL course provider you choose to train with.
If you’re thinking about teaching English in a different country, this guide is the place to kick-start your research.
What are TEFL courses and certificates?
TEFL is short for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ and it describes both the experience of teaching English abroad, as well as the process of studying to get the qualification to do so.
A TEFL qualification provides an opportunity to travel the world and earn money in the process. It’s also a chance to get to know a different culture (or cultures, depending on how many different countries you end up teaching in).
You may have come across different terms for teaching English abroad. We go through some of the slight differences between the terms below.
Here are the main benefits of getting a TEFL certificate:
It makes you more employable
Whether you’re interested in a career in teaching or not, choosing to do a TEFL course after graduation is a great way to start your career – whatever industry you’re keen to move into later. A common misconception is that TEFL is only suitable for those interested in pursuing teaching, but this certainly isn’t the case. If you’re keen to travel but worry about taking a full year off from work, teaching English is a great way to avoid any gaps in your CV – and travel can impress potential employers.
You will develop vital work skills
Not only will a TEFL qualification look great on your CV, but teaching English abroad will also give you the opportunity to gain some really invaluable and, most importantly, transferable skills that are worth shouting about.
Best TEFL courses in the UK
Some courses on teaching English as a foreign language may appear to be a better deal than others, but it’s important to take reputation into consideration. Here, we have reviewed and summarised the best TEFL courses:
Course cost: Around £1,275
Hours: Minimum of 120, but varies.
This TEFL course is recognized internationally as one of the best English teaching qualifications to have on your CV, so if you’re serious about finding a great teaching opportunity with a salary to match, CELTA is your best bet.
Studying full-time takes four to five weeks, whereas studying part-time can take between a few months and a year. You can also take the blended online version of the course, which combines online teaching with hands-on teaching practice.
At the end of the course, you’ll be assessed through six hours of teaching practice and four written assignments.
Course cost: Around £1,000
Hours: Minimum of 130, but varies.
The Trinity CertTESOL is another very highly regarded and internationally recognized course.
This qualification is accepted almost anywhere worldwide and you certainly shouldn’t have much of a struggle finding a job with a Trinity CertTESOL on your CV.
You can learn with a combination of online and offline courses at a number of locations.
The TEFL Academy
Course cost: £275 – £590 (but they often run discounts)
Hours: 120 – 168 hours.
The TEFL Academy offers government-recognized courses and certificates to kick-start your TEFL adventures. There are three options: an online Level-3 course, an online Level-5 course, or a combination Level-5 course, which includes 20 hours of classroom practice.
Job opportunities with a TEFL certificate
As we mentioned, a lot of on-site TEFL courses will come with a guaranteed contract at the end of your training, so the obvious perk of this is that you won’t have to search for a job once you’re qualified.
However, if you decide to go for a course that’s taught entirely online, or is taught in the UK, you might need to get job hunting afterward.
One option would be to travel to your destination and look for teaching work when you get there.
If this is how you’d like to play it, we’d recommend doing a fair bit of research before you arrive (checking ex-pat forums, looking up schools in the area, etc.). When you get there, start looking in local newspapers, calling up schools, and trying your best at networking.
How much do TEFL teachers get paid?
Teaching English abroad won’t exactly make you a millionaire, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make some pennies along the way. Each country is different when it comes to salary – there’s no set TEFL wage.
How much you get paid to teach English as a foreign language depends on a number of factors, like your employer, where you’re working, how much experience you have, and the standard of living in the country you’re teaching in.
You should expect an annual salary of around £14,000 – £25,000, but this can range to upwards of £35,000 with more experience and expertise.
A lot of jobs also include perks that will boost your income substantially.
In China, for instance, teaching salaries don’t appear particularly impressive at first glance, but when your employers are providing you with subsidized rent (or even paying for your accommodation entirely) plus meals, then the rest of your wage is purely spending money!
In countries such as the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Japan, TEFL teachers are often paid really well and receive excellent bonuses such as free airfares and gym membership. For example, many TEFL teachers in South Korea can save up to 1,000,000 South Korean Won (around £650) per month. Nice.
Where to find TEFL jobs online
There are a whole bunch of job sites out there dedicated to advertising TEFL jobs, so you shouldn’t be stuck to finding places to apply. The LoveTEFL jobs board is probably the best and most extensive, allowing you to filter by country and whether you’re a degree holder or not.
Dave’s ESL Cafe is also famous in the TEFL-sphere as having one of the most comprehensive lists of TEFL jobs available. It’s not the easiest to navigate, and you’ll have to hunt through a long list of links, but you’ll likely find some great opportunities.
ESL Employments are a couple of other TEFL job boards that are also worth taking a look at.
Top tips for doing TEFL courses and jobs
While we’d encourage anyone interested in traveling to consider trying TEFL, there are a few things to bear in mind. Here are five tips for succeeding with TEFL:
- Beware of TEFL scams – Unfortunately, TEFL scams do exist so it’s worth sticking to recognized courses. Saving a few bobs on your course can be tempting, but it’s not worth the risk of spending money on one that really is too good to be true.
- Don’t forget your long-term goals – If you don’t intend on pursuing teaching as a long-term career, we wouldn’t recommend doing TEFL for longer than a couple of years. While teaching English abroad is a fantastic experience, you don’t want to appear out of touch when you re-enter the job market for your chosen career.
- Know your rights – Finding a job abroad can be overwhelming at times, so it’s important you keep your wits about yourself and don’t let any employer take advantage of you. Find out the terms of your contract before committing, and make sure the school you work for sticks to it.
- Revise English grammar rules – Before you start teaching English to others, spend some time going over the key rules around grammar, and looking online to find handy learning resources. This will make you feel much more confident heading into school on placements, and it’ll highlight any areas you need to work on before becoming a teacher.
- Don’t overwork – There’s any point in setting off on your overseas adventure only to find you’re expected to work seven days a week, and as a result are too exhausted to enjoy yourself. Don’t let any recruiters or schools exploit you and tell you to work more hours than is reasonable. Remember why you’re there in the first place – for an incredible experience.