Starting out in ESL Teaching

Find an ESL teaching job

Starting out in ESL Teaching

Working as an ESL teacher can be a greatly rewarding and fun experience, just like any teaching job, but for many teachers it comes with the added attraction of combining work and overseas travel. I started out as an English teacher many years ago, first working in Spain, then France, Spain again and, finally, Italy. For someone who enjoys teaching and loves to experience new lifestyles, it's a wonderful career to follow. But how does an ESL teacher get started these days?

Once upon a time, having English as your first language could be enough to find a job as an ESL teacher. However, times have changed. With the arrival of the internet has come an increased awareness amongst students as to their needs, greater awareness of what teachers need to deliver and an international job market.

Joining the profession

There's little debate these days that a suitable teaching qualification is a prerequisite for an ESL teacher. Most formal TEFL qualifications are aimed at postgraduate level, but many are open to non-graduates who can demonstrate sufficient ability. However, an increasing number of countries won't issue work permits to ESL teachers who don't have a first degree, and a full degree is generally valued more highly than a short-course TEFL qualification.

teaching children

Certificate level TEFL qualifications can vary in duration from only a few days to several months, but most employers refuse to recognise certificates with a course duration of less than 120 hours, or less than 40 hours of supervised teaching practice. In paying for such a course, prospective teachers should never lose sight of the fact that many schools will always give preference to applicants who also hold a first degree or post-graduate teaching qualification.

The teaching of ESL is international, with teachers of many nationalities competing for the same jobs. Although some schools still prefer native speakers, many are open to qualified teachers of all nationalities. Regardless of this, teachers shouldn't offended or surprised if their passport prevents them from applying or obtaining an ESL teaching job as many countries impose restrictions on who can apply for work permits for specific jobs.

If you are planning to be an ESL teacher abroad, and before you pay for a TEFL course, it is a good idea check the work permit rules for the country of your choice and also check to see what qualifications are required. Be sure that the course you are planning to take is acceptable before you enrol!

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