Give Back to go Forward.
On the fence about whether or not you dare teach English abroad? Or, maybe, you’re saving up money to make sure you have a nest egg you can hatch later when you’re overseas.
If, for whatever reason, you feel the desire to teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) but can’t go abroad to do it right now, I’d like to offer you a great alternative for the meantime that will help you earn your chops as a teacher, become more confident in the classroom and do some good in your community. I recommend that you try volunteer teaching.
No matter what English-speaking country you call home, I can guarantee you there are opportunities for you to help people who have a genuine need to improve their English skills. They would be grateful of your services, even if only for a few hours per month.
Find a Place to Volunteer Near You
Each city will be different, of course, but here are some ideas of where to look for opportunities to volunteer:
- Your local library.
- Your local church or place of worship.
- A neighborhood school.
- A Youth Council or other community center for disadvantaged young people.
- The student exchange office of your local university.
- Any local support service for incoming immigrants, refugees and other new arrivals to your community.
If you really don’t have the face time to give to a volunteer position, there are also communities online which can benefit from your services as a teacher. Consider going to some sites set up for homework help, or tutoring, and make a promise to yourself to answer a few of the queries on there every day or week.
Now, spending your spare time tutoring children or helping immigrants is a lofty goal in itself. However, you will also benefit from this activity, beyond the feeling of having done something to help others. By putting yourself in environments where you’re around people who don’t speak English as a native language, you’ll be able to get a better feel for what it might be like in your target country abroad. By helping students acquire survival English, you’ll learn some common learner errors and develop some tricks to help get your message across to them. By assisting someone puzzle over the intricacies of English grammar and punctuation in a volunteer setting, you’ll be preparing yourself for explaining the same information to classes of students overseas.
If you’re at a point when you know you want to go overseas, and haven’t done a TEFL course yet, then you might consider volunteer teaching while studying for your TEFL Certification online with (my own) TEFL Bootcamp. In fact, even if you’re not interested in doing a full-blown in-classroom TEFL course yet, but know that you’d like to try out teaching by volunteering, looking through the plentiful free resources at TEFLBootcamp.com will help you serve your new students all the better.
TED’s Tips #1: English teaching can start at home. Don’t overlook the many opportunities in your community to tutor someone in English or to teach to small groups.