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

Should I get some TEFL training?
Will training in TEFL help??

And updated version of this page can be found over at my
 TEFL Teacher Training Blog.

Advertisements for TEFL jobs used to state that you just need to "come on over and have a conversation with your class."  That was true, maybe, ten years ago.  And in some places you can still get away with doing a poor job of teaching.  But, more and more, schools are actually expecting teachers to provide a lesson plan and/or to demonstrate at least some skill in the classroom. 

It's only fair, isn't it?

EFL students in most parts of the world pay, what for them, is a large amount of money to be in the classroom with you.  Wouldn't it be fair to expect that you have some skills?  To expect that you might have some notion of the best way to teach them English?  That you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of grammar and how to explain it to them?

It's Not Rocket Science

Okay, teaching English as a foreign language is not rocket science.  Really, it's not that tough.  But, organizing your thoughts and abilities in a way to benefit your classes - to help your students learn - DOES require some skill that training provides. 

What kind of training?

Any kind of training is better than no training.  You can find some free training as a volunteer from organizations like Literacy Volunteers of America.   There are online courses that are inexpensive.  All of them will provide you with some beginnings of the knowledge and skill you need to do a decent job.  The ideal training is one where you will teach practice classes with a teacher-trainer observing you and giving you feedback after each class.  Preferably six or ten hours, so you have enough practice and time to professionalize your skills - and to have a chance to become at least a semi-skilled teacher.  Will you become a seasoned "pro" with such a class? No, but you will have a good idea of what needs to be done and how to continue to improve.  A free online TEFL course that I wrote is here: TEFL Boot Camp.  More great inexpensive resources are at TEFLeBooks.com.

What kind of training do employers look for?

Sadly, some employers in some countries, have no expectations that you have any training at all.  Others, will have some very specific ideas about what training they would like you to have had. 

You won't be able to please everyone in every country, but with a good TEFL training course you will have what 95% of employers will be satisfied with.  And, enough training to feel like you are doing a good job and have some real satisfaction about the work you are doing.  It's a great feeling!

How do I find the best course for me?

I wrote my ideas about How to Choose a TEFL Certification Program on another website after working a year as a teacher-trainer in one of those programs - and that page can help you find the program that works best for you.  And help you know what kind of questions to ask to find a good program.  

Do yourself, and your students, a favor and develop a few skills.  You might find that you love the profession as much as I do - and end up spending the rest of your life overseas teaching, seeing the world, and frankly - just having a ball!

On-Line Training versus Full-Blown TEFL Courses

As mentioned above, any training is better than no training.  If you don't have the time or money to do a full course, or if you just want to experiment and see if it might interest you - consider a an online course.  They are a good introduction to teaching and can tide you over until you get into a full program with observed teaching practice.

No free time and no money?  Try TEFL Boot Camp.  I wrote it - it's as good as it gets online - and the meat of a good basic TEFL Training course there really is free. 

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