Do you need a TEFL certification course? A teacher’s viewpoint

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Not sure whether to go for that extra TESOL/TEFL qualification? What opportunities will you gain in your home country? What about overseas jobs? What is the teaching like?

About me

I have studied a bachelor of Early Childhood degree through long distance (online) education. However, I did not only want to teach in Australia, so I went on to study an advanced ESL diploma and now teach ESL online to children and run my own English tutoring business.

Why did I choose to study ESL?

I mainly decided to gain those extra qualifications because I wanted to travel and teach children who really aspired to learn English. A great benefit of being a teacher, besides the fact that it is a highly reward-able job, is that you can pretty much work anywhere in the world.

It is a personal ambition of mine to move to another country and teach English one day. Yes, it is a big decision. However, if you have a similar ambition, you should consider studying TESOL/TEFL too. But what is the likelihood it will result in your dream job?

The job industry

It is fairly easy to gain a job teaching overseas without much experience, provided you have a sufficient level of education and meet the school’s requirements. Some overseas schools do not even require a degree in Education or past experience to be able to teach English.

In Australia, it is a bit more difficult to gain a job without the necessary qualifications such as a Bachelor’s degree in Education. However, if you do a degree and TEFL diploma,  you can still join a regular primary school but specialize in meeting ESL children’s needs.

Benefits and drawbacks

Yes, you may be paid less at first if you chose to go overseas without a degree, however, you gain hands-on experience with a diploma that takes less than 6 months to hold in your hands. Countries such as China, for example, are desperate for English teachers and pay quite well, but make sure you research the school before you sign a contract! And they love Australian native speakers!

In Australia, like I said, you can still teach Primary ESL, high school levels or privately tutor and start your own business, however, Sydney has a mass amount of adult ESL centres to help teach people new to the country. For teaching adults, I do recommend a CELTA course and possible further study as teaching adults involves more advanced content, however, you can start off as a casual and do self-study, and the pay is very high ($46 p/h).

Personally, I find it more rewarding to teach children! There are many countries open to hiring teachers with limited experience such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia (just a few choices available).

Some schools will provide accommodation for you when you first arrive in your chosen country of destination, and you are sure to have a great bond with your students. Teachers are usually paid well enough to live comfortably. The teaching strategies you will be using are mainly Total Physical Response, use of props, facial expressions, appropriate body language and modeling, however, you can get creative with materials and are encouraged to be fun and energetic!

Does this sound like you?

Before you do decide which course to take, think about what you want to achieve. There are a few differences between TESOL and CELTA courses for example, and some positions require a bachelor degree as well. However, once you know which area you want to go into, don’t hesitate in getting those extra qualifications!

What about teaching online?

Additionally, if you would like to work from home, many schools from China and Vietnam are hiring Australian (and many other native speakers from different countries) teachers to teach their English classes online through webcam and audio. This is a little bit different than being in person with the children, however, it has the benefit of being home and once you are used to being behind the camera and gain some confidence, it is a very convenient way to earn money (Paid in U.S. dollars around $18-25 p/h). Use lots of props, TPR, and smiles, as well as choosing an online company that works for you.

The decision to study TESOL was slightly scary I suppose, I was already doing a degree and have a stable life in Australia, however, I wanted that extra qualification, not only to help me gain work in Australia but also the rest of the world.

Where am I now?

After taking that initial scary jump and enrolling in my advanced TESOL course, I realized I made the right decision. The course took less than 6 months to complete and was extremely flexible. The course content is easy to understand and assessments were fairly straightforward. I loved studying my degree in Early Childhood education, but the TESOL diploma was just an extra subject that I loved to study.

It certainly opened up many doors for me. I am now tutoring ESL privately to adults who need help in areas of communication, pronunciation and help to prepare for their IELTS exams. Not only can I run my own business, but I have also recently gained a role teaching online to classes in China!

I do not need to commute to work and can wear pajama pants, a great benefit!

Further Readings: Is TEFL a good career?

This article was originally published in Jul-2018 and was last updated in May-2019.

Author: Kate Gosnell

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