Global English: Take the Mystery Out of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

The English language has become a commodity throughout the world, yet there is a shroud around the manner in which it can be or should be taught and who can teach it. What is not widely known is that nearly anyone with a passion for helping people can teach English on some level provided he or she knows English functionally, and note that I did not say perfectly or expertly.

The Mystery is a pack of myths and misunderstandings.

Several myths and misunderstandings about TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) include that in order to teach, a person claiming to be a teacher must be an expert in the language, have thorough knowledge of grammar, and have a specific degree that proclaims his or her proficiency and knowledge. Those things are absolutely not true.

Most speakers of English are not experts in the language, yet they have a working adeptness that allows them to communicate effectively, and so they make great teachers. They have what English language learners need and want. Few native speakers of English could pass a thorough grammar test, but they know when the grammar is being used effectively and they know enough about how the language works to teach it to others. They have what English language learners need and want. English is being taught throughout the world by people who do not have degrees in education, language, or TESOL; nevertheless, people are learning English from them. Some students are impressed by degrees, and some teaching institutions do requires specific degrees, though many do not. Simply having a degree or looking like you can teach English (whatever they means) does not make a person an effective teacher. Yet there are many individuals who have a knack for teaching and especially for helping others to acquire language. They have what English language learners need and want.

What else do English language learners need and want and do you have it?

Consider who the learners of English are and you can figure out want they need and want; then you can surmise if you have it. Many of them need to learn English because they’ve landed in an English-speaking location and they need the language to work and/or to be a part of the community. Or they are in other countries where they need to communicate with the English-speaking world for various reasons. They are often people with intelligence, motivation and dignity, and they want to be seen as such despite their limitations with English. Without a doubt they are people who for one reason or another need to learn English so that they can begin to use it. Then, they want to gain more English and use it even more effectively so that others do not cut them off, put them down, embarrass them, or treat them as second class. They want to engage in productive work and to not be held back due to limited communication skills, and they want to be a part of the society in which they live and raise their families.

English language learners especially need a teacher who is understanding and compassionate. Language has often become an issue of struggle and embarrassment for them. They struggle to understand English and to make themselves understood. They are often embarrassed when people react to their accents or when people simply cannot understand them because of accents. They want respect for their humanness, their intelligence, and all of their other fine attributes. They want a teacher who sees them as human and not as the “other.”

They need a teacher who is practical about grammar and who knows how the English language works most effectively. Some teachers become so caught up in their own ostensible knowledge of grammar rules that they cannot begin to convey true language meaning to students. They actually frustrate students by trying to explain the language. English language learners already have high anxiety about the language and they need a teacher who does not increase that anxiety. They need a teacher who views human communication as being far more important than detailed explanations of grammar rules, especially those rules that seem to have more exceptions than the rules imply. English language learners want a teacher who shows them how to use language patterns in real-life situations.

Degrees are often impressive and it doesn’t hurt to have a solid education, yet it is essential to realize that it is not about degrees-it is more about how the English language learner learns. We all need to continuously improve our skills so that we can help English language learners more efficiently, and we need to add professional development to our resumes so that we create more teaching opportunities for ourselves. But, we must admit that for language learning to take place, the ingredients must include a person who needs English and an understanding, compassionate, practical person who is willing and anxious to teach it. So, now you can answer the question: Do you have what English language learners need and want?

Teach English and Live Abroad? Your Top TEFL FAQs Answered

Firstly, the demand to learn English is huge… There is an estimated 1 billion learners of English worldwide. In many countries demand for learning English outstrips supply. Learners improve their English in a variety of ways; they attend private language schools, take English classes by phone, learn English in-company and take 1-1 lessons. To meet this need English teachers are in constant demand; preferably with a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other Languages) Certificate. In short, qualified English teachers are needed worldwide now and for the foreseeable future.

Below are 4 questions we are often asked at our language school by prospective EFL teachers.

1) I haven’t got a teaching background. Can I teach English? Most people who train to teach English have no teaching background. They come from all walks of life and jobs. We’ve trained students, chefs, a retired solicitor, nurses, mainstream school teachers, the list goes on and on. A teaching background is not essential. What is helpful is a flexible and friendly personality. While in some countries a degree is necessary to teach and native English speakers are preferred, this is not always the case as it is an enormously wide and varied TEFL world.

2) I can’t see myself teaching large classes of kids. Do I have to? While many can’t imagine themselves in front of a class; a good TEFL certificate will prepare you well for delivering successful lessons. But if teaching English a class is not for you, don’t worry. As mentioned earlier, many learners prefer a 1-1 environment, particularly business people and so you don’t have to teach large classes or children if you don’t want to. You can target the students you want to teach.

3) How do I choose a TEFL course? There are so many out there

You can train to teach English online, in-class or even over a weekend. The choice can be bewildering. Your decision may depend on cost; a good online course costs around 200-400 GBP whereas an intensive 4 week course can be around 1000 GBP. It may depend on where you want to go. In more competitive English speaking countries such as America, Canada and the UK an intensive 4 week CELTA or Trinity is generally advisable. Outside of these countries, an online course can take you far but won’t mean every job is open to you. Whichever you choose, ensure you select an established, accredited provider as a guarantee of quality. The advantage of an online course is that you can combine your general TESOL training with a specialism such as young learners, 1-1 or business so you can get to specialise early, making you stand out from those with a generalised TESOL certificate only and giving you an advantage in employment.

4) What are the prospects like? What can I earn?

While it’s difficult to be exact, as a general rule of thumb you can usually expect to earn enough to live on in Western Europe and live well by local standards in Eastern Europe. Some of the best contracts can be found in Japan, China and South Korea and the very best in the Middle East. Teaching English is not generally a source of great wealth in itself although there are other interesting off-shoots. Our TEFL graduates have opened their own schools and franchises, established lucrative freelance networks of 1-1 students, written TEFL books and gone into management. To check out typical demand, pay and contracts in your country of choice, try typing ‘TEFL jobs Japan’ into a search engine, for example. This simple method of research will give you valuable insights into what to expect. A reputable TEFL school should also be able to give you an overview and advise you on what course is the best fit for your dream location. We advise many in this way every day.

It is not just money and the possibility of living abroad that make TEFL so appealing. EFL teachers can carve out part-time teaching to fit around their family commitments or to supplement a retirement income or other job. The flexibility of TEFL is often part of the attraction.

Your next step

If you think TEFL might be for you, explore your visa options via the consulate or embassy and research typical pay and conditions via the web – or contact any good TEFL school for an overview of what to expect in your country of choice. Enroll on an accredited TEFL/TESOL training course and you will be one step nearer to starting your new life overseas. Teaching English can be a wonderful way to live, teach and earn abroad as well as personally enriching and rewarding. Thousands embark on this new career every year. Could you be one of them?

Selecting Schools Overseas to Teach English

Individuals who are not committed to any particular location, due to family ties, can take up jobs abroad and teach English, especially if they love to travel and wish to experience new adventures. There is a steady growing demand for English teachers overseas. According to a study carried out recently in Malaysia, students found it more comfortable to learn mathematics and science in English. It will soon become a necessity for teachers to travel overseas and teach English as more governments become aware of the need of their country to learn the language.

Here are some pointers to help you look for a good job as an English teacher overseas.

You may need to be able to set aside at least a year if you wish to go abroad and teach English so make sure you are able to stay away from home for this minimum period. Determine which location you would like to stay in and be prepared to compromise if the pay is not in keeping with your expectations. It is essential that you acquire an ESL certificate and try to get a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate before you plan to go abroad.

If you have a bachelor’s degree and wish to launch into a career where the education is higher, you may have to get a master’s degree, as this will also help you if you wish to work at “distance education.” Try to learn the language of the country where you wish to teach before you reach there. You may need to use applications which will be easier if you are comfortable with the language.

Write out an attractive resume by highlighting extra-curricular activities. This will give you an edge for better interaction. For instance you may be able to supervise a baseball game which will be a plus point where your employers are concerned. Try to get as much feedback as possible, from teachers who have taught in the country, as this will help you view the entire experience from a better perspective.

Visit the school before you start teaching there and make enquiries about the syllabus, salary and the days that you are free to explore the country or rest. Find out the interests of the students to help you plan the appropriate lessons to enhance their skills in spoken English.

Allocate sufficient time during class hours, to encourage students to practice conversing with each other in English, especially during group activities. This will help increase their self confidence in speaking a foreign language. Be sensitive to the cultural differences when you teach students. When you teach, you are accepting a challenge to practice your skills which is akin to learning archery. There are several advantages to teaching English overseas and some of them are listed below.

Apart from being able to travel to a foreign country, you will be rewarded professionally which will give you a tremendous boost. You can experience new cultures and try your hand at learning a foreign language. In English speaking countries, teachers are expected to have advanced degrees and be a native to teach English in schools.

English can be taught in any country in the world especially where there is dispute and they wish to score by mastering the English language for communication. These schools ensure that English is taught so that children as well as adults can learn the language.

It is essential to check that the school that you are teaching in is recognized by their government or embassy. This will make you confident that they will live up to their promises. It is in your best interests to therefore look for reputed schools where you can teach and leave your mark as a great English teacher.