Is the world calling your name? Do you imagine yourself in exotic locales, wandering canal lined alleyways, tasting delicious street cuisine? Are you itching to hop on a plane and travel to the unknown?
While it’s all well and good to daydream, perhaps the time has come to act upon these impulses. Traveling the world is not only for the wealthy or elite. It is for anyone with passion, determination, and that all important spark of wanderlust. There’s no time like that present for dream following.
Today we’re going to talk about one of the best ways to work and travel at the same time. The ESL and EFL (English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language) fields are multi-million industries that are looking for teachers NOW. Here we outline the steps you need to take to embrace your wanderlust and begin a career of travel through teaching English!
A common misconception about ESL teachers is that they must be fluent in the language of the country they are teaching in. While the main criteria for many teaching jobs is to be a native speaker of English, certain things can definitely boost your hire-ability. Having a Bachelor’s degree in any field, any past experience in tutoring or childcare, and some basic knowledge of the language spoken in your new country can all give you an edge. Most schools and companies have in-house training so that you can become familiar with their methods, materials and student profiles.
One of the easiest way to become more competitive is to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification. This certification can take anywhere from a few months to year to complete, and can be done online or in-person. Sites like TEFL Online and TEFL Academy offer comprehensive courses on what to expect in the ESL classroom.These sites also offer help in finding in-person schools where TEFL courses can be completed. Another benefit to completing a TEFL course is establishing a network for yourself. The ESL community is a big one, and being in contact with TEFL schools and instructors, even your fellow students can greatly help you find jobs.
Entering the ESL world can be a daunting one, as there a multitude of schools, companies, and programs out there. Here’s a brief overview of the two most common options.
One of the most popular ESL experiences are the programs. These are Companies or Government Agencies that hire teachers, and then assign them to different schools. The allure of programs is how easy they are to navigate. There is usually a contact person for you every step of the way, from applying, to obtaining a visa, and finding a place to live. As they are so popular, these programs can be very competitive. The TAPIF and Meddeas programs in France and Spain respectively, will assign you to a primary or secondary school within those countries once accepted. They also offer the opportunity to live with host family or find your own residence. The JET and EPIK programs are similar programs in Japan and Korea.
These kinds of programs are perfect for college graduates without teaching experience who are flexible in regards to which city they would like to placed in. They do take your preferences into account, but offer no guarantee of placing you in a certain city.
The contracts can be anywhere from 6 months to a year, and are often renewable. Programs are great way to dip your toe into the ESL pool. Your teaching hours are usually less than 25 hours a week, leaving you plenty of time to explore your new home. You are usually given smaller classes, a co-teacher, or both, meaning your teaching load will be very manageable.
As ESL is such a huge field there are special schools that teach English to people of all ages and levels. There are literally thousands of schools all over the world looking for English speakers. The appeal of language schools is the diversity of students you will teach. You could be teaching at a kindergarten in the morning, a class of high school students after lunch, and business men and women in the evening. This is ideal for people who don’t require as much hand-holding, or don’t want to work exclusively with one age group. There are huge chain language schools like Wall Street English that operate in countries all over the world, and more local schools that are usually run by locals. Language schools usually have an HR department that will guide you through the visa process, and often offer housing or help finding accommodation.
Websites like Dave’s ESL Cafe and TEFL.com are mainstays for job searching. These sites allow you to apply directly to language schools, or apply through their interface. Language schools will usually hold interviews via Skype, so there’s no need to travel any further than your computer while applying.Like any job search, the quest for the perfect teaching job can be a difficult one. But with determination you can find one that job of your dreams!
If you’re looking for a way out of the humdrum of life and a never ending glass to quench our thirst for wanderlust while funding it then a career as an ESL Teacher is for you.