Once a student has completed and passed their TEFL Course and received their certificate, it is highly likely they will look towards gaining further experience and landing their first TEFL jobs abroad. However, what are the ways in which students can find work abroad or overseas and what are the opportunities available?
One way students do find work, due to the quickest and easiest option available to them, is through online websites. Most tefl course providers have their own website with the ability for their recently graduated teachers to search and apply for jobs directly. The internet is the first port of call for the majority of people today and so a good place to start. Depending on where the individual wants to work and live, they will find a number of different materials available to them from reviews on the school they wish to work in, to the standard of living exposed to them once they arrive in the country.
A key reason as to why so many people decide to gain a qualification to teach English as a foreign language is because they want to be able to travel the world whilst also earning along the way.
Therefore, another way in which individuals can find work overseas is simply by travelling. From Thailand and Vietnam, to Brazil and Argentina, there are hundreds of language schools, academies and schools taking on native English speakers to teach the next generations of their country. Crash courses can be carried out by globetrotters whilst also being able to find work straight after. Alongside this, the internet is also extremely helpful for travellers to source such information about places to find work.
A final way in which people can find work is through careers agencies; both online and in store. The latter is a little more difficult or not as utilised but nevertheless still a method available. Careers agencies and advisors are there to help those individuals looking for work and advice with the options available to them. This way, they also have access to a number of different resources from contacts to companies offering placements and posting job vacancies to those looking to teach English abroad.
To conclude, it is evident there is a number of different options available for those looking to find work overseas. The main way is via the internet as this allows individuals to not only research the job vacancies but also the legitimacy of the organisation or school they are hoping to join.
Being a non-native teacher when looking for tefl jobs Europe.
Now I must say, I do believe there is prejudice around the world when it comes to the origin of English teachers. I have heard of some cases of certain countries that only accept people with passports from English-speaking countries as potential teachers. The idea certainly does exist that English natives should be the only ones allowed to teach English because “they have the best pronunciation” or “they have read many more books in their own language” or “they did not learn English at the same time as their native language”.
Any person who insists on these ideas and leaves no room for people to prove their value is not only guilty of prejudice but a rather poor potential manager for a language school where what matters is the very real and practical objective of sales: keeping your customers happy and coming back. That is not accomplished by having “native teachers”, it is accomplished by having competent teachers. Just because a person is a native speaker does not mean he or she inherently has the necessary skill set to be a teacher. It takes effort, talent, empathy and patience. A true teacher has all of this and can accomplish any task. He can help them master topics they had no idea how to even approach. He can even retain customers and give them hope when they are ready to either give up completely or look for another school. And I have done all of this and much more. A teacher cannot simply spend his time chatting in a classroom and explaining nothing, and whenever asked something complicated he cannot constantly shrug and say “well, that’s just the way we say it”. That is what a native does. And if there are no natives available to work as teachers, should we then forget about the idea of learning English because the only ones available to teach it are non-natives? If we were to discard every perfectly-capable teacher who was not born in an English-speaking country, we would have nowhere near enough people to keep up with the demand. And if it were true that non-natives should not teach English, then how could I ever have started the internship in the first place? Teacher trainers know that natives and non-natives deserve equal opportunities. Here is a testimonial from a non-native teacher:
“Therefore, if somebody were to question my legitimacy as an English teacher, I would know how to respond to that. Not with confusion, not with aggressiveness, but with something that will make them reconsider their own concept of what a teacher should be. I would start by asking them to consider the fact that everybody in their country is a native speaker of Spanish, and then I would ask that person: “How many of them do you honestly think would make good Spanish teachers? Do they actually have the education and the personality it takes?
And if I have a certificate, if I have the right to be here teaching, does that not prove I am much better than any of them?” Non-native speakers can actually be much stronger than most natives, and I think I have done enough to demonstrate exactly that.
As I have already said, my students are happy with me the way I am. They know I am Portuguese and they are fine with it. Many of them have expressed an interest in having lessons only with me if possible. They want me as their teacher because I genuinely care about them and they can feel it. I am doing more for them than many natives would. They leave the classroom with smiles on their faces because I consistently make them feel that, with my help,they will be able to make significant progress in learning English. Of course all of this is a major boost to my self-confidence.
In conclusion, I can say I have learned to appreciate Spain as a wonderful opportunity for English teachers. And what I appreciate most is that they are interested in having teachers who are actually capable of teaching them, no matter where they come from. In that sense, Spain is an example to be followed.”
BEING A COMPETENT TEACHER
Knowledge of subject matter and methodology are, on their own, insufficient. Indeed to be a teacher of any subject, it is of course important to have a good understanding of the subject matter and of course of the teaching methodology used in the particular school or organisation in which you work, however these aren’t the only requirements needed to be a teacher. I will discuss the further skills needed to be a good teacher.
Focusing on language teaching (although I believe this applies across all subjects), I believe that to be a good teacher, it is important to be creative and to have good engagement skills.
By being good at engaging with people, it means you will have their full attention and therefore there is more chance that they are taking on board what you are saying. If your engagement skills are not so good, the student will more likely become bored, and will lose concentration on the subject matter.
For a teacher to be engaging, they need to be a good speaker, friendly and to have a certain degree of firmness, so that the students know they can trust them to correct them when necessary. A good sense of humour is of course also important so that the classes are entertaining for the students.
Another skill which is very useful for teachers is to have a degree of creativity. This can help by creating new and interesting ways of presenting information. These new ways can help the information stick into the students’ minds helping them to remember what they have learned. This can include such techniques as developing games, or giving the students interesting presentation topics to help them remember vocabulary or devising new language drills to help them remember a certain grammar point. With a degree of creativity, the teacher has a wealth of ideas at their disposal to help the learning process become easier.
Of course, the methodology and understanding of the subject are vitally important, but to be a good teacher they are not sufficient on their own. Another attribute that is important is to be able to judge the ability of the student and set the level of the class accordingly. As Piaget stated in the book ‘Development and Learning’ (1972), Teachers should be able to assess the child’s present cognitive level; their strengths and weaknesses. This is important to ensure the teacher doesn’t teach to a level too high for the students, and then the students are not able to understand the points being taught.
In conclusion, it is of course important to have a good understanding of the subject and methodology, but these are not the only attributes that are important when teaching a language.
Personal attributes such as creativity, attentiveness and assessment ability is also largely important, along with others.
Teaching further out: The Language Barrier – China vs Spain. What is the best option for short term tefl jobs?
Before I came to Spain to teach, I was lucky enough to also have the experience to teach in a college in China, so it was very interesting seeing the differences between the two sets of students, in terms of phonetics, pronunciation and classroom behaviour. The main difficulty in China was the complete difference of language techniques and norms when communicating with each other, as Chinese is a very literal language as opposed to Spanish, English and other languages derived from Latin which are riddled with idioms and expressions. These various expressions lie at the core of our language system, and come naturally to us, usually without having to dwell upon the definition for too long. Along with intonation and expression, Chinese differs greatly.
Students in China were very perceptive when they wanted to be, but often wouldn’t understand some of the techniques or expressions I would use in the classroom as they were just not familiar with my way of speaking and my constant use of phrasal verbs amongst other things. They also had great difficulty pronouncing some words, and confusing some letters with others. Drawing some similarities, I can see that elementary Spanish speakers too often make mistakes when speaking English, which usually comes from translating the Spanish expression directly into English which sometimes didn’t work grammatically. This would be because, perhaps there was a preposition missing or something similar. ´False friends´ also seemed to be an achilles heel for some of the students who would often miss the point of a sentence because they had directly translated a word from Spanish to English because of similarities in spelling of the word.
However, one interesting point to draw upon, was what happened to some students when making errors. With both Spanish and Chinese students, regardless of the vast cultural differences, their confidence seemed to be knocked if they made mistakes which often led to them feeling almost embarrassed, which in turn led to less class participation. Students from China were either ´passive, quiet, submissive, or disciplined´1 or valued active thinking, open-mindedness and were inquisitive. With Spanish students there is a similar correlation from my experience, but Spanish students were often more able to accept their errors and improve, as opposed to Chinese students who were often a lot more stubborn when it came
to this aspect.