What is teaching English as a Foreign Language overseas?
Teaching overseas is a great way to live in another part of the world, indulge into the culture as a local not a tourist.
You'll have the opportunity to see the world first hand, not just as an observer watching the discovery channel. Shop at the open food markets, listen to ethnic music at local bars, visit ancient temples, and see the world from a different point of view than you can by living in America.
Living overseas as an English teacher is a great way to meet other people from around the world also wanting a new adventure. You are able to teach English in Europe, teach English in Asia, and Teach English in Latin America for as long as you wish. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans are hired to teach English due to their native English ability. You will find thousands of foreign teachers in every major city around the world, they are all on the same adventure to learn a new culture and to meet like minded people. It's an opportunity for fun, growth, life experience and travel. Let's face it; the opportunity to be paid to live in another country can be the experience of a lifetime.
ELT: English Language Teaching
English Language Teaching (ELT) often referred to as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is an exciting and dynamic field in today's world, because English has become one of the preferred languages for use in international communication. English was already the international language of business before the growth of the Internet made it even more important. This is partly because many countries trade with English-speaking countries, but it is mainly because English is used as the international language of trade. For example, when the Japanese negotiate oil deals with Arab countries, the negotiations are normally conducted in English.
TEFL: Teaching of English as a Foreign Language
TEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) applies to the teaching of English in countries where English is not the official or preferred language for daily interactions. For example, TEFL is taught in Brazil, Mexico, China, Thailand, and other countries in which there is a national language other than English. However, for business, academic or personal reasons, governments, schools, and individuals find that knowledge of the English language will improve their ability to communicate in a global environment.
Most foreign governments have always recognized the political and economic advantage of being able to negotiate diplomacy and trade in a common language. Over the years, the preferred second language of a country has generally been selected based on the most needed language of the era. For example, in the early 20th century, many native speakers of Polish were taught Russian in school as children due to proximity, and the political environment of the region during that period. Now one finds many more opportunities for English teachers than Russian in Poland.
As more and more governments conduct trade and diplomacy with more and more countries, one of the most frequently chosen languages for international diplomacy and trade has become English.
Just as many governments recognize the importance of English for the future growth of their economies, so, many foreign companies are aware that their future success will be more assured if their employees are proficient in English. Thus, many companies provide English classes for their employees. Some companies employ their own EFL teachers while others pay for their employees to attend private language schools. Whatever the arrangement, almost all of the teachers involved are native speakers of English.
Another important factor in the growth of TEFL abroad is that many non-native speakers of English realize that their career prospects may be greatly enhanced if they have some proficiency in the language. In Japan alone, over five million adults regularly take EFL classes in an effort to improve their career prospects. In India, where many people use English to conduct customer service and support for international companies, one finds many private schools that offer specific pronunciation training for non native speakers of English. This is true of many other countries as well, as business adapts to the global economy.
In order to prepare the youth of their own countries for this international job market and trade opportunities, education ministries all over the world include it in their high school curricula, while some are even making it a key subject in their elementary schools. In many countries, English is also an important subject at the post-high school level and so it is now widely taught in foreign universities, colleges and vocational schools. At this level it has become increasingly popular for educational institutions to employ native English speaking teachers. This is why, if you look at Internet TEFL job boards, you will see many vacancies for English-speaking teachers in universities and colleges in countries as diverse as Korea, China, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
Of course, not all adults who study English in language schools do so for work-related reasons. Millions of people all over the world learn the language for other reasons. Some want to access English language movies, TV programs, magazines, newspapers and books. Others want to use English when they travel abroad on vacation, either to English-speaking countries or to other foreign countries. (It is now quite normal to hear Germans or Japanese tourists using English when they are checking into hotels in Mexico or Italy.) Also, some people decide to study English purely as a hobby or a self-improvement activity, in the same way that they might decide to take classes in art or aerobics.
The result is that tens of millions of people, adults, teens, and even young children spend hours each week learning English. They may attend classes in private language schools, elementary schools, high schools, universities, or at the workplace.
Why are there so many teaching jobs?
Every major city in the developed and developing world has a need for English language teachers. Most larger cities have between 30 and 100 private language schools along with the teachers in the public schools. Each private language school may employ between10-50 English teachers. There are an estimated 40,000 language schools worldwide employing over 300,000 native English teachers every year. Most contracts are for 6 – 12 months and approximately 50% of the foreign language teachers leave after their contract to go back home or to another country.
With the teachers finishing their contracts each semester, every private language school and public school employing foreign language teachers need a new stream of candidates to fill these open positions. Every country has its unique hiring seasons for the immense turnover of teaching positions. It is all a matter of knowing the hiring seasons and interviewing in advance for these thousands of openings.
Finding employment is a simple process, either an interview in advance with email and phone interview 3 months in advance or interview in person in the country during the hiring season.
Contact us for typical country hiring periods
The students you will teach:
You may be teaching children, housewives, college students or corporate executives. It will depend upon your employer. Most language schools enroll students of all ages and backgrounds. You might find work doing private tutoring, or teaching English majors at the university depending upon the policies of your employer. Look at all the opportunities you can because each type of teaching requires different skills, and offers different rewards.
Adults in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa need to communicate everyday with other nations for business purposes. The common language of business, education, medicine and travel is English. For professionals it is a necessity to speak, listen, read and write in English for their current employment and future career advancement. The world market dictates that there are no longer boarders in commerce; every business connection is a phone call, email or text message away. Even in countries where English was taught in primary school such as Europe, many adults now need refinement on their skills, especially in the verbal communication.
English classes for adults:
Language schools cater to individual adults attending language classes during off business hours. Students are taking classes before the office opens at 8 am, back again from 4-8 pm and often Saturday mornings. Classes are often 45 – 60 minutes.
Corporate adult clients:
Often language schools have contracts with local corporations to have lessons at the corporate offices for their employees. The language schools send their English teachers to the client's office to give language classes during the middle of the day. Classes may be 45 – 90 minutes long. Classes may be held in conference room space.
Adults are the largest client base worldwide on every continent.
English lessons for children:
The majority of jobs available for TEFL certified teachers for young learners will be in Asia. The public schools need assistant language teachers who are native speakers to compliment the native teacher.
Young students also attend language schools after their public school class day is finished. Students typically are learning English from age 5 until they finish high school. Young students will be studying English their entire youth in order to pass college entrance exams in English named TOEFL. The students need to obtain a certain standardized score for entrance into American or international universities that are taught in English.
Grade school children often attend summer language camps for a complete English immersion.
Ask a TEFL Institute advisor about the summer programs
The English teachers:
No matter where students study English, native speakers of English are considered by many educational organizations to be integral to the process of teaching English to their students. Fortunately native speakers of English from many countries such as the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are pursuing positions teaching EFL abroad in growing numbers.
Many teachers go abroad because they are seeking adventure or want to experience other cultures, while others want to learn a new language or to improve one that they learned in school. Some teachers choose EFL as a means to support travel expenses as they help people in need around the world.
Many EFL teachers abroad have no specific training in education, although many of them have a BA or BS degree of some type in an unrelated field. Many English teachers abroad have not finished a 4 year degree but have their TEFL certification.
Although some English teachers may stay in a country for the long term, most stay only temporarily typically 6 or 12 months, which means the job opportunities are plentiful each new hiring season.
Why do they want me? I'm not a foreign language teacher.
Fluency in English speaking skills is your ticket for adventure and overseas employment:
The local English teachers abroad are well trained in foreign language methodology, many have degrees in Education and foreign language, often master's degrees just as the foreign language teacher you may have had teaching you Spanish or French in high school. The native teachers are well versed to teach reading, writing and grammar skills, however most native teachers abroad do not have good verbal skills in English.
Therefore it is very difficult for the native teachers to teach speaking and listening skills as they do not posses those skills themselves. For example, a language teacher in China may never have lived in America and their speaking skills are very low, compound this with a teacher's reluctance to teach speaking skills when they are not confident in their own ability.
This is where you come in! You have been speaking English your entire life that could be 20, 30 or 40 years. You would be considered a fluent or expert speaker. You have an expertise that took a lifetime to acquire; hence you have a skill that is in high demand world wide.
Is it necessary that I speak the language of the country where I will teach?
No. Language classes are best taught using an emersion technique. The same way you will learn a language very quickly by moving to that country and being immersed, so will your students learn much faster by having their class completely in English.
Some schools do appreciate it if you know something of their native language, if for no other reason than to be able to handle yourself more comfortably in the environment. Few people who are interested to teach abroad speak the local language before they go. It is more advantageous for you to know some basic local language phrases of the country where you will teach but it is certainly not necessary at all to be fluent.
Furthermore, many schools offer language classes and social activities to help familiarize their teachers with the local culture. Having a little background of the local language will give you an edge why certain diction, grammatical and pronunciation problems seem to be hard to beat up. It will also help you determine what topics of discussion that will be of interest to your students even if you may not know enough of the language but it could be a good English conversation starter in the classroom.
Where can I teach English overseas?
There is an essential demand for English teachers in almost all non-English speaking country in the world. Every country in the world has opportunities for trained English teachers. Countries like Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea and other countries in Asia have all become economic giants. Their booming economics bring more internationalization and the increasing need for English teachers. As a result, there is a huge demand for English teachers throughout Asia.
You should consider why you are teaching and base your destination upon those objectives. Teaching English is a job, not a vacation, and it would be a mistake to be teaching based solely on wanderlust. That said, the right environment, the right salary, the right language and the right street side cafes can make the challenges of the classroom seem like the rewards of the world at your doorstep.
English teaching positions around the world
Typical Paying Jobs
Private schools: Most countries have a private language school industry. At these schools, you teach English conversation to people who want to develop their English skills, maintain the English they've learned previously, or experience another culture. Your responsibilities could range from teaching business English to company executives to leading summer day camps for elementary school kids.
These schools may specialize in just English, or can have a variety of languages. Schedules vary, typically 100 - 120 hours a month.
Public schools: Public school systems in many countries hire native English speakers to work as assistant language teachers grade schools and at junior and high schools. Typically a Mon – Friday job, 22-30 hours a week of class and 12- 15 hours of lesson planning. 8 - 4 type of position.
Universities: For more qualified and experienced TEFL teachers, university teaching jobs offer prestige and a very comfortable lifestyle. Teachers typically have an advance degree or many years as an English language teacher.
Government/Non-governmental organizations: The Peace Corps in the US, Volunteer Service Overseas in the UK, and other NGO's offer great volunteer teaching opportunities. In one such program, TEFL Institute works with the Chilean Ministry of Education and the United Nations Development Program to place teachers in the English Opens Doors program in Chile.
Mission programs - Many church and mission-based organizations sponsor TEFL teachers to go abroad.
People teach English all around the world, some popular teaching destinations are:
Europe: Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Greece, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Russia, France, Estonia, Romania. Many jobs are 10-12 month contracts.
There are often summer camp jobs in these countries.
Asia: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia - 12 month contracts except China where it is 6 & 12 month.
Summer language camps are very common in China
Latin America: Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Panama, Mexico, Ecuador and many more 6 & 12 month contracts.
Summer teaching and year long contracts available in public schools in Chile with the Ministry of Education
How much money does a teacher abroad make? How much can I earn?
The amount of money a teacher abroad makes is relative to their position, qualifications and destination. These are professional teaching positions with paying students. Teachers make their living year after year as a professional teacher. You will not be rich as an English teacher but you will live a middle class life. You will be paid in the local currency according the standard of living in that country.
One very important factor to consider when applying for teaching jobs abroad is the cost of living in the country you are heading to. In China, for instance, you may enjoy a high standard of living and save some money but you probably won't be able to pay a large mortgage payment back home as the currency is of a far less value than the US dollar.
Many teachers make extra pay teaching additional classes or tutoring individual students but this will depend on the policies of your employer. Some employers provide free accommodation and utilities to help teachers cope with the cost. Some provide additional benefits like reimbursing your air fare and providing medical insurance. Offers vary from one destination to another and TEFL Institute highly recommends researching your placements in advance to make an informed decision regarding the job offer.
Your income is relative to the standard of living in that country. You are paid in that nation's currency. Teachers typically make a wage in Europe and Latin America to live comfortably in an apartment, purchase groceries, bus money and extra money for fun after work. Teachers around the world typically teach private tutoring sessions and make double their work wage; this money goes far for traveling.
The simple answer is you can easily make a livable wage overseas as a professional English teacher.
Asia: Teachers typically save 30-50% of their salary. Asia has a huge need and money to spend on English lessons. Many opportunities offer reimbursed airfare and free housing to China and South Korea. You can save a substantial amount of your salary in Asia.
Latin America and Europe: You typically make a comfortable wage and break even on living expenses.
Extra income: Private tutoring is very common and lucrative around the world. Teachers typically make double their hourly wage. Private lessons are very easy to obtain and provides a nice income for extra travel expenses.
Contact us for typical salaries in common countries
How do I teach if I'm not trained as a teacher?
There is an international training and certification course for native or fluent speakers to teach English overseas. You do not need to go to school for 4 years for a degree in education or a 2 year master's degree, you can take a condensed certification course referred to as TEFL, (Teach English as a Foreign Language). Classes may be a weekend seminar, 50 hours or the international professional standard of 100 hours of course work and 20 hours of student teaching/observation.
In a professional TEFL course, you can complete your 120 course at one our international TEFL training centers over 1 month or you can complete the same work going part time in our TEFL professional online course in 2 months.
Shorter courses of 50 hours online or a weekend seminar are also wonderful short term training to get you overseas in some countries on a smaller timeline and budget.
The TEFL Institute is the leader in professional TEFL certifications worldwide. Below are links to our certification courses.