TEFL for gap year & retirement
- CETEFL, TTEdSIG & Dogme
Thanks to Dominic of gisig for bringing to our attention an article in
today's Daily Telegraph.
Can teach, will travel
Having a TEFL qualification offers a great chance to work abroad and
earn some money. By Richard Bradford
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a first-rate
postgraduate gap-year option. Many use it as a career break, a
lifestyle change or a retirement plan. It means going abroad to teach
English to non-native speakers and provides an invaluable opportunity
to discover new languages and cultures.
'Seeing your students progress is in itself a rewarding experience'
It began in the 1950s as a rather colonial approach to those for whom
English was not their first language. Today, TEFL, also know as TESOL
- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages - is a
multi-million-pound international industry catering for those who want
to speak the worlds premier international language.
Technically, anyone with a native level of English can become a TEFL
teacher. Having an empathy with your students and a real understanding
of English are important. When you apply to take a course, you might
be asked to explain the difference between the words "meaning" and
"significance" or between the phrases "She reads The Telegraph" and
"She is reading The Telegraph". The job also requires a fair amount of
dynamism, although seeing your students progress is in itself a
Teaching English abroad is usually based in private language schools.
You might teach younger learners, university students or company
employees. Depending on your background, you could become a teacher of
English for Specific Purposes (ESP) - for example, business or legal
English. With about 25 lessons of 45 to 60 minutes a week, the
teaching is pretty much full-time. So it is important to be properly
There are myriad TEFL courses offered on the internet, varying widely
in price, content and recognition. Although most claim to be
internationally recognised, only two really are: the Cambridge
Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (Cambridge CELTA)
and the Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other
Languages (Trinity Cert TESOL).
They are externally assessed and recognised by the British Council as
the minimum qualification required to teach in a British private
language school. Both can be taken either part-time or intensively
over four to five weeks.
The main objective of the courses is to improve your practical
teaching ability. Weekly teaching practice is underpinned with lively
lectures, discussions, observation and activities, and cover skills
areas such as language awareness (grammar), linguistics, phonetics,
foreign language acquisition, teaching materials, classroom management
and lesson planning.
Prices of the Cambridge and Trinity Cert courses vary from £650 to
£1,000. Cactus Teachers offers a selection of both courses and a
centralised application procedure for more than 60 providers in
Britain. The courses are based in popular international locations such
as Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Australia.
Online and weekend courses can also be useful as a taster and for
those considering using TEFL as a means of earning money while
travelling. Shorter TEFL courses cost from about £200. While
financially advantageous, these omit the important teaching practice
element and may not be fully recognised abroad. A useful site to
explore the different course types is www.tefladmissions.com.
You can find teaching work by simply going to the country and looking
for it, by volunteering for a TEFL adventure with a gap-year
organisation or by securing paid work before you leave. Most courses
will offer help and advice on this.
Many newly qualified teachers head to eastern Europe and South-East
Asia, where the demand for teachers is higher. Last year, 600 British
graduates worked in Japan as assistant language teachers with Japan
Exchange and Teaching (JET) - www.jet-uk.org - which pays for return
flights and organises accommodation.
Spain is the most popular country for British-based English language
teachers, who can stay with a local host family. This means they can
integrate with the local culture and secure low-cost accommodation
while searching for that important first job. The single biggest
source of TEFL jobs is www.tefl.com.
Most positions around the world will provide enough income to cover
local accommodation and subsistence, as well as some spare cash. Back
in Britain, experienced teachers can earn £15 to £30 an hour working
in private language schools and further education colleges.
Top employers in Britain generally regard TEFL as a positive way of
spending a gap year. Transferable skills such as time management and
the ability to train and give presentations are welcome additions to
formal qualifications, not to mention inter- cultural sensitivity and
For those captivated by the nature of the work and the sense of
freedom it gives, career paths and further qualifications are
available. Teachers go on to become directors of studies, educational
managers, school managers and authors of course materials. The author
is the head of teacher training at Cactus Teachers, an online TEFL
course admissions service offering advice and support to those
considering a career in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 'The
Little Book of TEFL', is available free from www.cactusteachers.com or
call 0845 130 4775.