TEFL is an attractive prospect for many reasons. It’s a passport to living and working almost anywhere in the world. You get to meet lots of different people through the job, and it’s very rewarding to see people improve their English skills over time. But some TEFL teachers worry that it’s a professional dead-end, without much scope for promotion or advancement. However, there are lots of careers where your TEFL experience will stand you in good stead!
Teaching English as a foreign language is a skill which you can pass on to others. Lots of English teachers go on to train other people who want to teach English as a foreign language. The Head Tutor at TEFL Iberia, Ian, said of his role, “”I felt that my professional development as a TEFL teacher had really slowed to halt after doing it for six years, so the move to teacher training was a refreshing change. It’s been so rewarding watching people arrive and develop into skilled and passionate teachers. It’s a challenging job but I love it!”
After teaching TEFL for a few years you’ll know the textbooks inside out. If you enjoy creating your own materials then writing, editing or publishing might be a good route for you to pursue. Having a good insight into what the students are like in the environment you are writing for is invaluable, and teaching is the best way to discover what’s missing. Without this insider perspective you could write the most amazing textbook in the world – but if it’s not what the students need then your work will have gone to waste.
Maria, the TEFL Iberia blogger, says “”I’d been teaching English for a year when I started blogging about it. Having worked as a TEFL teacher means that I can write knowledgeably about the industry in Barcelona – I’m basically writing blogs that I would have found useful when I started out as an English teacher.” Content creation skills are transferable and building up your expertise in one area means that you can move into other fields relatively easily.
Once you’ve been part of the TEFL world for a while, you’ll have gained an idea of how it works, and this experience could prove useful when organising TEFL courses yourself. Jayde, our course coordinator, said, “After doing the TEFL Iberia course I worked as an English teacher for two years before coming back to TEFL Iberia as the course coordinator. Part of my role is interviewing potential students and supporting our current students, and my TEFL experience has been invaluable with this – having worked as a teacher, I’ve been through the experience and can relate to the fears and pressures that a new teacher feels. I know the job market and can offer advice based on my experience.”
Living abroad is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign language. Depending on how much time you spend living abroad, and how much time and effort you put into learning the language, working as a translator could be a viable option as a career post-TEFL. Translators are always in demand, whether spoken or written, and the schedule is usually quite flexible, so you won’t be trading TEFL in for a boring 9 to 5 job!
You could even take the risk of setting up your own business. If you’re a driven and ambitious individual this might be the route for you! Richard, the director of TEFL Iberia, did just that after working as a TEFL teacher for five years in Barcelona. “I decided I wanted to be my own boss, so I started a TEFL training school. Running my own business was a whole new set of challenges, but that’s what keeps it interesting. Having worked in the TEFL industry for five years gave me the insider knowledge I needed to make it a success.”
And for those who’ve caught the teaching bug but want the stability and security of a permanent contract, doing a postgraduate diploma in education is a good idea and your TEFL experience will help you secure a place on a training course. Whether you want to teach English or another subject, your previous teaching experience will be invaluable as you train to be a teacher at home.
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