As I look back five years ago to my experience teaching English abroad in Korea, there is a lot I wish that I could change. Moving abroad is a huge, daunting challenge and things don’t run smoothly all the time.
Most of the time, the challenges you will face are somewhat out of your own hands. You will get lost (a lot), and you will struggle to be understood when you are learning the language and culture of your new home.
In hindsight, there was one thing that I could have done to better prepare myself for becoming an ESL teacher abroad, and that was taking a TEFL certification course prior to applying for jobs.
Here are a few reasons why I wish I got TEFL certified before teaching abroad:
My confidence in my own teaching ability was low
I was a fresh university graduate, daunted by the prospect of job hunting at home, so I set off to teach English abroad. Aside from babysitting and coaching youth sports, I had zero experience teaching children under my belt. This made the learning curve very steep.
Sure, I could speak English, but would I be able to teach it? The 3 different TEFL online certification courses offer from 6-11 units designed to get you ready for the classroom. Never written a lesson plan? No problem – the TEFL online course shows you how.
To can read more about the curriculum for each course, click here.
I had no specific knowledge of ESL teaching techniques
Being a native English speaker, I had never even witnessed an ESL class before moving to Korea. And because my school did not have a strict curriculum, I was left to create my own strategies and tactics for teaching the coursework to my students – who ranged from ages 4 to 17.
In all three TEFL Online course, there are two units specifically dedicated to the differences you may face when teaching ESL abroad.
This would have been a huge help for me. You can even specialize your course based on where you are heading to teach.
Areas of specialization include the following:
My school was not what I thought it would be
Not many people in my school spoke fluent English, which made for some unique challenges. The curriculum was left up to the English speakers, even with no prior teaching experience. Personally, I would have preferred more guidance in my first teaching experience.
One thing that you can acquire from completing the TEFL online certification is the ability to apply and be considered by more reputable schools throughout your country of choice. If a school is requiring you to complete a TEFL certificate prior to starting work with them, then they value teachers with some prior knowledge and understanding of what it will be like to teach English as a foreign language.
Through their partnership with Teach Away Inc., the University of Toronto TEFL Online course can give you a leg up on the competition when applying for roles through their website. Teach Away recruiters look at the TEFL certification with high regard.
You can take a look at the current ESL opportunities with Teach Away online here. There are dozens of available roles teaching ESL abroad at any given time.
You can earn more
With a more reputable school group, often comes a higher pay cheque. Many of my friends who were TEFL certified worked with better schools for better salaries. Completing the TEFL certification opens up doors to higher paying positions worldwide, and can help you save up faster to pay off debts, or plan your next vacation.
So what are you waiting for?
Walk into your new classroom abroad confidently with a TEFL certification.