A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

What if I don't have any teaching experience ?

What if I don't know a TEFL from a TESL?

Experience is not usually required.

Before you head overseas to start teaching English, do whatever you can to get a little training and experience under your belt. Many schools won't really expect you to be highly skilled, but they will often push you into a room with 6-10 people and expect you to know what to do!  If nothing else, at least read through the Free Online TEFL Training at TEFLBootCamp.com and check out the materials on offer at TEFLeBooks.com


While some schools and advertisements will tell you that you will just go and "talk" with your students, that really isn't enough.  Often your students will not really be able to have a true conversation with you and will need some instruction and training.  That's the teaching part!

If you don't have the time and money to get a full TEFL Certification - consider a program like Literacy Volunteers of America to at least get a feel for what is required.  Teaching EFL is not rocket science - so don't worry about your ability to learn some good basic skills.

People Skills

A large part of your success will depend on your "people skills" - your ability to get along with different and diverse people.  This includes your ability to listen to them and spur on a conversation or discussion about something that interests them (not you!) - and your ability to show a genuine interest in what they have to say. 

With younger students, you will need to have the energy and desire to develop interesting materials and games/activities that are appropriate to their interests and ages.

Genuine Interest in the Success of your Students

You success will also, in my experience, depend on your genuine interest in the success of your students.  Students worldwide seem to easily pick up whether you are interested in their future.  And, if they know you are concerned about their success - they will, in turn, be interested in your success. 

Another people skills factor is your willingness to quickly learn cultural aspects of the country where you are living and teaching.  Showing the proper respect for your students by learning and behaving by their cultural norms - will help them respect you.


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