How to Decide Where to Teach First?
Dec 29, 2010 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 2927 Views
Getting your TEFL certificate opens a huge pool of opportunities in terms of TEFL destinations around the globe. Becoming a TEFL teacher is very fascinating, but you may find things a bit tricky when selecting the destination where you'd like to teach English overseas. To help you make the right decision, we've pulled together a few questions that will help you give you perspective on your options.
1- Will I be able to get a visa?
Most of us are so excited about the idea of teaching English overseas, that we can forget about the visa requirements of particular countries. Some countries like Japan, South Korea and Thailand require you to have a university degree before applying for visas, while to get a working visa in Europe requires an EU passport. But don't get disheartened, there are dozens of appealing TEFL destinations out there, and many where all you need is to be a native or near native English speaker.
2- Would I be able to teach who I want?
Most of the countries have a variety of teaching opportunities, from public and private schools, to teaching business English and one on one tutoring. So when you're deciding what type of TEFL certificate you're going to enroll on, keep in mind what type of teaching you're planning on doing so you specialize in the relevant areas and give yourself the best opportunity to find work in that area. It pays to do some thorough research into the destination before you make your decision.
3- Will I be able to adapt to the culture?
Most of the TEFL certificate graduates who plan to teach English overseas love experiencing a different culture. However the cultural difference can sometimes be overwhelming at first, so make sure you prepare yourself as much as possible by researching the destination and go with an open mind. It's also important to get out there and meet as many people as possible, as being social is a great way to feel good and stay happy!
4- What do I want to get out of the experience?
It's important to have a clear understanding on what you plan to attain from your TEFL experience. You may become a TEFL teacher to make money, immerse yourself in a new culture or to do some voluntary work. You will certainly not earn millions as a TEFL teacher, but you can earn a lot more in some countries. For instance, working in South Korea will fetch you more than you would in Ecuador. So it's better to priorities if you want to make a good living and maybe save some pennies, or not earn as much but still be able to live comfortably and enjoy the experience!
5- Will I be able to do the traveling I want to?
You will have plenty of opportunities to travel with TEFL! But remember that you've got the chance to really get to know a country/region... so while you do have a fantastic opportunity to jet off to nearby countries, remember to keep it local too!
6- Do I meet the minimum requirements to teach there?
While this is different from one country to another, you can generally get a job teaching by being a native or near native English speaker. Having said that, many countries require a degree and of course the more hours of TEFL study you've done, the better the odds of finding a good job teaching English overseas. For example, in Japan you will generally need a degree to get a work visa, and at least a 100 hour TEFL certificate to secure a teaching job. Ask your TEFL course provider for more specific country information.
7- Does the country have a strong TEFL market?
Asian countries have a huge demand for TEFL teachers in comparison to places like South Africa where the demand is substantially lower for paid TEFL teachers. So it's important to research the opportunities in the countries you're interested in. This does not mean that you can't find jobs in countries with low demand; it's just likely that jobs won't be paying as much and could potentially be harder to secure.
8- Will I be able to commit to the time-frame?
Generally most schools are looking for 6 to 12 months commitment; however there are some shorter term roles available if you look in the right places! Countries like Spain have summer schools, so it's important to get take a good look around it you can't commit to the longer contracts.