In today’s digital age, English is the go-to language for up to 80% of all the world’s online content, according to many estimates. This means that almost ⅘ of any remote interactions are performed in English, making it a highly sought after commodity.
As a result, there is a massive marketplace for learning English, and virtually an entire planet’s worth of potential students to be reached. Therefore, the ability to teach English is highly valued, and can easily be leveraged into a successful vocation.
With that in mind, below are some essential aspects to consider when looking at teaching English to speakers of other languages, as well as some practical tips to ensure that any decision made is one that is best for the short-term and long-term too.
What is the difference between TEFL and TESOL?
Put simply, TEFL (or Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is explicitly targeted to the teaching of English inside another country, where English is not the native language. For instance, if an American teacher teaches English in South Korea, this would fall into that category.
By contrast, TESOL (or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an umbrella term for the full field of teaching English, no matter the location. This does include TEFL and TESL (or Teaching English as a Second Language), although this is more typically taught in North American settings.
In essence, then, a TESOL course offers a new educator the chance to reach a wider pool of students, and have greater flexibility in using the certification as a means to find work. Not only that, but going the extra mile is a surefire sign to prospective employers that the teacher-to-be is dedicated and committed to the career move.
How can TEFL (or TESOL) help you advance your career?
There are a plethora of reasons why getting trained and then pursuing a career in TEFL can pay dividends. First of all, the skill set needed to be effective tutor includes, but is by by no means limited to: having the patience to deal with stressful situations; adapting quickly to changing student needs; satisfying the requirements of multiple stakeholders, from administration to parents, as well as the students themselves; and the confidence needed to present content in a clear and interesting manner.
Secondly, the chance to go abroad and work in another country demonstrates a capacity and willingness to learn about other customs and cultures, a necessary tool in today’s modern world. Alternatively, teaching TEFL or TESOL online shows an understanding of the Internet world, from handling the minutiae of a video call, to preparing online content to be shared with learners, as well as the paperwork that needs to be filled out remotely. These are all excellent skills to have.
All in all, then, it is not difficult to see the value in considering a career in TEFL or TESOL, and the migratable skills that come along with that. Last but by no means least, each and every lesson is different, and this makes teaching English a profession that is as varied as it is exciting, with no two days ever being the same.
Which age group should a TEFL/TESOL teacher consider teaching?
This is a fascinating question, and one that really depends on the personality of the teacher themselves. For some, working with kindergarten age kids is the way to go, as they find their young minds malleable enough to accept and integrate complex language ideas quickly and easily. In addition, the energy and vibrancy of a smaller age group. is appealing to those with a zest and appetite for trying to keep up with that.
However, that route is not for everyone, and there are plenty of other options just in case. For example, a common age group to start teaching TEFL/TESOL in many environments is around the age of 11, or when secondary school starts in the UK. At this age, the learners tend to have settled into more of a predictable routine, with longer lessons giving the chance for the TEFL/TESOL instructor to dive more deeply into the content.
Yet another age group that a TEFL/TESOL can work with is adults, who tend to be more driven and clear in their goals, having a specific career or educational goal in mind. This also provides the opportunity to explore controversial topics in more depth, that may be off limits to younger students.
There is a flip side though, in that adult learners do tend to find it a touch more difficult to grasp complex grammar and vocabulary points straight away. As always, it is up to the individual TEFL/TESOL tutor to decide what is the best fit for their own individual style.
Is it better to teach TEFL/TESOL in person or online?
Once again, this is the choice of the specific TEFL/TESOL teacher. For those who are comfortable with all the nuances of modern technology, such as the Internet, radio, and television, then going online may well be the way to go.
There are a couple of other factors that play into the benefits of teaching online. For starters, this kind of work can usually be done from home, meaning that precious time and money will be saved simply by avoiding the dreaded morning commute.
On top of that, the remote nature of the work leads to a far greater pool of possible students, and the ability to adapt to particular time zones around the world. This could mean teaching a student from Japan in the morning (while it is evening their time), then flipping the script and helping a Brazilian learner in the evening (when it is their morning).
On the other hand, there are those that thrive upon the in-person interaction with learners in the classroom, and the chance to get student minds working together on collaborative projects in person. As with all the other queries though, this truly does depend upon the nature of the TEFL/TESOL teacher themselves.