The beauty of teaching English as a Foreign Language is the flexibility. Being a TEFL teacher allows you to choose where you want to teach, be it Bangkok or Beijing or Barcelona. Then you can choose what kind of institution you want to teach in, as well as what kind of students you want to teach – essentially, who and what you want to teach.
Let’s try this again.
There are a number of different situations in which you can teach English as a Foreign Language. Many of the adverts for TEFL jobs show teachers teaching young children in school. While this is certainly a very popular TEFL scenario, it is by no means the only one. Let’s look at the many different ways you can teach English as a Foreign Language.
TEFL in a kindergarten
These days in many countries children as young as four are taught English, or at least they are taught in English. In non-English-speaking countries, there are thousands of jobs available for TEFL teachers. This could be teaching General English which, in this case, would be basic letters and numbers, reading stories and a lot of singing and dancing. Or you could teach a subject like Art or Music or Gym in English. TEFL teachers in these situations are often provided with teaching assistants or co-teachers to help with any communication issues they might have.
Read more: Co-teaching in the EFL Classroom
TEFL in a public school
In a country that does not use English as an official language, it’s possible to teach English in a public school – primary school or high school. Again, you could teach General or Conversational English or you could teach a subject in English. This is otherwise known as Content and Language Integrated Learning, or CLIL. If you have a degree or experience in a field other than education, for example, Maths or Science or History, then you might be asked to teach that particular subject rather than English lessons.
Public or state schools vary from country to country but often they can have large class sizes. In certain countries in Asia and Africa, classes can be up to 40 or 50 students, or even more. These schools might be under-resourced so you can expect to have to be creative and think out of the box.
Read more: How to Integrate CLIL into Your EFL Lessons
TEFL in a private or international school
Teaching in a private or international school is similar to teaching in a public school. However, it is likely that you will teach a subject rather than English – in other words, CLIL lessons. This is because many private or international schools are dual-medium schools so the students learn English through immersion learning.
These schools are generally well-resourced and provide great support for their teachers. After a few years, there are opportunities for you to be promoted and become a subject or a grade head. Teaching jobs in private or international schools are highly sought after because the hours are low and the salaries are high.
TEFL in a university
For TEFL teachers who have experience, have a teaching qualification other than the TEFL, or have a further qualification such as the DELTA, it’s possible to teach in a university. This could be both in an English-speaking country or a non-English-speaking country. For example, you could teach English for Academic Purposes at a university in London for foreign students who need to brush up on their English skills before starting their studies. Or, you could teach students studying at a Thai university who are studying an English subject.
TEFL jobs at universities are very popular with teachers because they are usually quite cushy, with few hours and good salaries.
TEFL in a language school
Language schools are popping up all over the world. A language school (sometimes known as an academy) is a private business that offers English lessons to learners. Some language schools teach school learners after school or on holidays or on weekends, some teach adults in the evenings after work, some teach businessmen and –women from particular companies.
In English-speaking countries, your students will be foreigners who are in the country to work, study or particularly learn English. For example, in Cape Town, you might teach a German student studying at the University of Cape Town, or an Angolan engineer sponsored by an oil company to learn English, or a South Korean student who has immigrated to Cape Town.
In a non-English-speaking country, you will teach citizens of that country who need English for a visa to emigrate, in order to study at an English-medium university or who would like to learn English for their own pleasure.
Read more: 10 EFL Language Schools You Should Know
TEFL on a summer camp
Then there are summer camps. These are run by language schools or TEFL companies during the school holidays. Depending on the country, this will be at different times of the year (also depending on if it’s a summer or a winter camp) but they usually run from one week to 12 weeks. The learners usually have English lessons for a few hours in the morning and then arts and crafts or sports or other extra-curricular activities in the afternoon. On some days the learners are taken on excursions to local tourist sites.
These camps take place in both English-speaking countries and non-English-speaking countries. For example, many European children head to England for summer camp in June and July, while many Thai students go on camp in Thailand in April and May.
There are a number of different positions available in summer camps. You can teach English lessons in the morning or you can be an Activity Leader for free-time activities. Some teachers work like in a normal job i.e. a few hours a day, while others are residential, meaning they stay on the camp premises for the duration of the camp. These teachers might also have pastoral duties, such as supervising mealtimes. For teachers with experience, you can also apply to be a Director or Assistant Director.
Read more: Five Characteristics of Summer Camp Teachers
Private TEFL Teacher/Tutor
While some TEFL teachers teach private students as an extra source of income in their free time, others do it full-time. Private teachers teach students in a private capacity. In other words, they are freelance or independent TEFL teachers. These teachers usually teach students in their houses or in public spaces like coffee shops. They charge an hourly rate but usually arrange a long-term contract with their students.
And then, of course, you can teach English online. Again there are a few options available to you.
You can teach English online:
- through a company,
- through a database,
- or independently.
If you sign up with an online company, you will need to apply for a position with them. You will need to fill in an application form and possibly go through an interview. If you are accepted into the company, they will train you on how to use their virtual platform. Some companies provide you with teaching materials too. You can arrange your schedule, though there may be certain days or times that you need to commit to. Through a company, you don’t need to source students, as the company matches you with students. You are paid a set hourly rate and will pay commission to the company.
If you use a database, you simply upload an introductory video of yourself or a demo lesson. You can set your own rates too. Students will book lessons with you through the platform, which usually takes a percentage commission. No materials or training are provided. The platform only acts as a middleman by organising schedules and processing payments.
As an independent online teacher, you can do whatever you want! You will need to find your own students, as well as source your own lesson materials and plan your own lessons. However, you can set your own rate. Also, when you work and who you teach is completely up to you.
As you can see, there are numerous jobs you can get involved in as a TEFL teacher. You never know, you might end up teaching a side of EFL you never knew existed!