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Teaching English as a Foreign Language

By Yvonne Volante

Prepare yourself for the challenges of introducing your students to a whole new world.

Before you excitedly answer any employment ads, you should learn the meaning of commonly used terms, as well as figure out your preferences for working with non-English speakers locally or abroad.

TEFL: Teaching English Foreign Language; often refers to teaching English in a foreign country. Known to students as EFL classes.

TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language; usually refers to teaching English to foreigners in an English speaking country. Known to students as ESL classes.

Would you prefer to teach locally or abroad?

For people who wish to travel, TEFL can be a great opportunity to interact with new cultures and to finance traveling. It is important to investigate the country you will be traveling to as well as the employer offering the position to ensure you will be safe and have reliable work. You may decide to work with an agency based in your home country that will assist you with legal questions and assist you in making living arrangements.

What kind of background do you have?

While many foreign positions are available to individuals without experience or certification, you will likely find the education and resources of a preparation class to be valuable before taking an assignment. If you think you would like to try out this career before signing on for something more permanent, you might offer your services locally, as a private tutor, or take an instruction class to familiarize yourself with the responsibilities and work required to teach a language.

If you choose to work in your own country there will be various guidelines for certification, experience and materials as determined by the employers. If you consider private tutoring, you can research recommended course materials and methods online or at a book store or library. You can then advertise your services in a local paper or on college and university billboards.

Will you enjoy it?

Teaching English can be very rewarding. However, English is a language full of rule-breaking nuances. Trying to explain these to a student can be difficult, and a person needs to have patience and good personal skills to become an effective teacher.

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