Teaching English as a Foreign Language refers to teaching English language in countries where English is not the native language.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is an all-encompassing term that covers both TEFL and TESL and is commonly used by membership organizations like TESOL International and by universities to refer to graduate degree programs in English language teaching, such as the MA TESOL.
Around 3 years ago I made a decision that would forever change my life! I got my TESOL Certificate with ITTO and began teaching English as a second language for my primary source of income. I had no clue back then that this decision would be the best thing I did for myself. I always had a talent for teaching, but never really considered it for a long term profession. If you are in the same boat as I was, you may be thinking Teaching would be cool, but I don’t know if I would want to do it forever. That is exactly why I HIGHLY recommend you get certified! Read below to get a better idea of why there is no downside of taking this step! 🙂
Expand Your Skillset
In today’s world, you are almost expected to have an array of different skills no matter what your profession is. Employers are always looking for well-rounded candidates that are multi-faceted. If you get the TESOL certificate it shows an additional skillset that is widely respected. It proves that you can commit, manage, and communicate to a wide range of people that is beneficial to any line of work. While getting certified, you will learn how to streamline your thoughts in form of lesson planning and practice trouble-shooting for things that you would not have otherwise thought of. If you think about it, most jobs require these skills! Your mastery of the English language will improve because, as we know, to teach something you must understand it inside and out. Subsequently, studying for this certification will make you a much more proficient writer and speaker and help you present your talents in the best light. Trust me when I say that this type of expansion in your skillset will not only benefit your overall career, but give you a great sense of pride regardless of your previous experience. You may or may not have a college degree, which is fine, but some jobs will look for candidates that have a degree and certificate. Don’t let that discourage you though because many places in Asia don’t care about the degree and some don’t even care about the certificate BUT- it is better to get as many qualifications as you can because that will increase your pay. Not to mention, you will have a better idea of what to do when you are faced with real world teaching situations.
Opens You to the World
Let’s acknowledge the obvious here- MOST of us are interested in TESOL because we want to travel! I totally get it- that’s what got me started as well! And believe it or not my friend, it is actually real. You can find jobs overseas that will hire you and help you with accommodation and pay you! It sounds so crazy, but it’s true. A big thing that has changed in my life now is that I can literally look up positions that are opening all over the world and apply! A great resource where I found some of my jobs was Dave’s ESL Cafe and TEFL.com
Currently, I work for two different online companies and that is where I get a big chunk of my income. If you are at all interested in working for the companies I work for send me and email and I will get you started! 🙂 . It is such a game changer when you know that your job can take you to locations you never thought possible all because you decided to take that extra step and get certified. I would be remiss though if I acted like it was all rainbows and sunshine while you worked and lived broad. It is still a job. You are basically substituting the scenery. This is something that I wish was highlighted to me before starting this journey. It is important to not jump to say yes at every offer or position because once you are there, you are there. I have been in situations where the school or organization expects an arm and a leg from you just because you work for them. You have to consider your own work/ life balance and come up with a list of questions to ask once you are in the interviewing process. Figure out what your non-negotiables are because you are committing to usually a year of your time with this employer. I don’t mean to dampen your spirits about working abroad- it’s awesome, but it can be so much better for you if you go into it with a logical mind and realistic expectations. This is another way of how becoming certified opens you to the world because you are faced with a lot of different cultural norms that might not be so normal to you and cause you to stand up for yourself. I’m sure this is something that you are used to doing in your home country, but it takes on a different level when you are in a foreign land. It will make you stronger- that is for sure.
Always Have A Job
Some background about me is that I got my degree in Theatre which is not a field where you find stable jobs left and right. I knew that was the case when I got into it, but since the economy was all over the place at the time of my graduation, I faced the harsh reality that there were not many jobs that were on offer for most people in my age group despite their degree. This led me to feel anxious and afraid that I would not be able to make a living doing something that I enjoyed. I was lucky enough to work in entertainment pretty quickly outside of university, but I know that is not reality for most people. Having my TESOL certification leverages my previous qualifications and makes me feel like all the time I spent studying was not a waste. I will always love theatre, but it is important to be able to keep food in my belly and having my certification guarantees that I can always find work, even if it’s just something on the side.
Like I said before, I can go on any job website and find openings for ESL jobs at any time. It’s so great. You don’t have to say that you will forever teach English now because you have become certified, but you will always have that option. This is awesome for so many reason. For example, let’s say you are on a 2 month long trip in southeast Asia and want to earn a couple extra bucks while there. You could most definitely reach out to some language schools, or just promote your services online, or to the locals you meet around and get some money in your pocket for helping them with their English. You can proofread CVs or legal documents and charge people, or write articles for foreign companies. The options are limitless for what you can do! Of course, some of the examples I gave aren’t just based off of being certified, but it will help you- and that’s my point! As English speakers, we underestimate what a privilege we have that we are fluent in, what is considered to be, the global language. I urge you to capitalize on that fact because it will ensure future stability in your life and finances.
So there you have it! Short, sweet, and simple. If you have the time and capabilities to become TESOL/ TEFL certified- just do it. You don’t have to teach forever or take any job that is offered to you so there is no need to panic! Find the course that best fits your lifestyle. There are some you can do online (which I did) or there are some programs where you can get certified in the country where you wish to work! Start researching, be open, follow your heart, and remember- taking this step will change everything! I promise!