TEFL or Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a versatile occupation that enables teachers to access a global jobs market. For many of us when we think of TEFL we think of fresh faced graduates heading off for their year abroad after college. But TEFL can also be a viable career choice and one that opens up a world of possibilities both in Ireland, and a variety of countries around the globe.
If the thought of working in a foreign country for a year or more really appeals to you, then TEFL courses may just be the way to go. What a great way to experience a different county and immerse yourself in its culture. And the options are varied, think Greece or Thailand, the Czech Republic or China.
So what do you need in terms of qualifications before you head off to foreign climes?
First of all you need to be a native English speaker, and in most (though not all countries) a degree is often a pre requisite. You will also need a TEFL Certificate of some shape or form – the choice of which is numerous. Ranging from 20 to 120 hours in duration, the better ones include classroom practice, while others can be completed online and over a week-end. Most language schools in Ireland and some Universities offer TEFL Certificates, and all vary in terms of cost, time and accreditation. But expect to pay anything from €300 to €800+, and the upper end of the market for a better one.
If you are doing a TEFL course purely to spend a year abroad, then the type of course you do is at your own discretion. Very few schools abroad ask for a specific TEFL certificate or qualification, however for your own sake it is advisable to choose a course that includes some teaching practice. It might also be worth choosing a school that offers help finding a placement post qualification. The pay and conditions for TEFL Teachers abroad varies, depending on where you go as do the perks. In some cases subsidised or free accommodation may be provided, and free language lessons are often part of the package. Lengths of contracts vary but be prepared to commit for 6 months to a year.
The work ranges from preparing teenagers for Cambridge exams to teaching business people who want to use English in their jobs. Teaching methods to encourage the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, such as role-play, group work and audio-visual materials are used to encourage communication. So expect to be creative in preparing your classes, but don’t worry about having to speak the language of your host country, as most schools prefer if English is the only language spoken.
If you think you might also like the option of Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Ireland on your return, then you need a course that has the ACELS (Advisory Council for English Language Schools) mark. Be prepared to put in 100+ hours to gain this qualification and to spend time in teaching observation and practice. To find schools in Ireland offering the ACELS qualification, check out www.acels.ie or www.mei.ie
Once you have the ACELS TEFL course you will find that teaching English to foreign students in Ireland (strange as it may seem) is actually a booming business. The range of students who come to Ireland to learn English is broad, from Spanish teenagers to Chinese businessmen. As a result there are a lot TEFL schools meeting this demand and providing work for many teachers into the bargain. While the work isn’t as well paid as a qualified secondary school teacher, it does provide much more flexibility and a chance to work with people of different cultures.
Some teachers also get involved in teaching ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) or ESP (English for Special Purposes). The difference between these and TEFL is that you may be teaching foreign language speakers living in an English speaking country in the first instance, and specialised English say for business or legal purposes in the second.
Whichever aspect of TEFL appeals to you, it is certainly a versatile career worth considering! Check out some of the TEFL & TESOL courses on offer on findacourse.ie