A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge and make the investment to get my TEFL (teaching english as a foreign language) certification.
Have I always wanted to teach?
It’s odd because I had never seriously considered teaching English before and was actually pretty opposed to it. As an english major in college, the #1 question/comment that I got was “so you want to teach?” NO. That’s not why I majored in English. I majored in English because I love writing, studying literature, and I love the academic culture that generally comes with it. If my dream was to teach in a school somewhere in the USA, I would’ve majored in teaching. So then…
Why did I get my certification?
My dream is to be able to travel the world – experience new cultures and people, but still make money. Teaching English as a foreign language will allow me to do that, and it appeals to me in ways that teaching English to native speakers does not. Non-native speakers are generally more eager to learn. Plus, the material is very different than what you’d teach in an English class for native speakers. I don’t think I have the patience to discuss Shakespeare and Gatsby with disinterested students who pretended to read, but I do have the patience and interest to teach students that are genuinely curious and excited to learn a new language.
Not to say all native speakers go into their English classes disinterested and relying solely on Sparknotes… but let’s be honest, a lot of them do. I remember those days. As someone who’s more passionate about the language and literature than teaching itself, that would frustrate me. Teaching my native language as a foreign language is a very different, and much more appealing, experience to me.
Plus, it gives me the freedom to travel.
Do you really need a TEFL certification to teach abroad?
Aside from a few online teaching portals, you need a TEFL certification to teach English abroad. Most countries and language schools require it. And outside of that, it looks good on your resume and definitely makes it easier when searching for a job.
For most places, you also need a Bachelor’s degree in any subject to teach abroad. There will be some exceptions, but again, it will be a lot easier to find a job if you have one.
How did I get my certification?
After a lot of research, I settled on the International TEFL Academy. They have so many amazing resources to help you along the way –whether it’s choosing the right course (online verses in-person), alumni job support, and detailed country profiles to help you figure out where you might want to teach. I spoke with an advisor before enrolling, and was immediately confident in my decision to get my certification with them.
There are so many different options when it comes to TEFL, and they have ample resources to help navigate through all of them. I opted for the online course because I work full-time, and it just made more sense for me. With the online course, you have 150 academic course hours and 20 practicum hours. I completed my practicum hours at a local community college, so it worked out really well.
If you’re interested in getting your TEFL certification, I definitely recommend going through my advisor, Chelsea Hendrickx. You can contact her here or at firstname.lastname@example.org – and tell her Elizabeth Padian sent you!
How hard is the course?
It’s very informative and there’s a fair amount of work, but it’s not hard at all. Everything is very straightforward and your instructor is always there to help and answer any questions you may have.
The hardest part is finding where to do your practicum hours, but even that part was fairly easy. They have a list online with various places in your area that offer classes where you can complete practicum hours. I simply emailed the school, filled out a volunteer form, and started doing my hours!
Is it worth it?
YES! It’s definitely an investment that I didn’t take lightly, but if traveling the world is something you really want to do, then this is a great way to do it. The certification never expires, so it’s literally a lifetime investment that opens up a whole new job market to you.
Whether you want to teach exclusively online, jump from school to school around the globe, or immigrate to another country… TEFL gives you so many options to explore the world.
This is just a general overview of my experience with TEFL so far and getting my certification. If you have more questions about TEFL – whether it’s about the course, visas, or various teaching options – shoot me a message. I’d love to connect with more people looking to teach, travel, and explore abroad!