A guide to TEFL (Teaching English Abroad)

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By in Graduates, Jobs & Careers, Student Travel. Updated April 2016.

Many students are left with the dilemma of what to do after they graduate, but have you thought about teaching English abroad as part of a Gap Year?Teach English AbroadWhether you’re looking to go into teaching, want to travel the world or just try something new, it’s well worth considering teaching English as a foreign language abroad.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide on TEFL, right here right now, so you can make sure you know exactly what you’re getting in to.

What exactly is TEFL?

teacher memeTo put it simply, TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language!

A TEFL qualification will allow you to travel the world and earn money whilst you’re doing it – what’s the catch? There isn’t one!

Becoming TEFL qualified not only allows you to have some of the most amazing experiences in the destination of your choice, but can help boost your CV and put you at the top of the pecking order for job applications back in the UK.

Why should you TEFL?

Teaching English AbroadThere are plenty of reasons that Teaching English as a Foreign language is a good idea including these:

  • There are over 1 billion English learners; that means the demand for TEFL teachers is huge!
  • You can avoid the misery of applying for jobs and receiving no reply
  • It offers a chance to travel abroad
  • You get paid for your rewarding work
  • It’s a great thing to boast about on your CV

TEFL can be very rewarding, eye-opening and exhilarating. Many students and graduates that have been abroad to teach English in the past have said that it offers a great opportunity to do something different with their gap years whilst also get paid while travelling.

Read more about some of the benefits, such as pay, below…

How much can you earn teaching English abroad?

Teaching English abroad is not going to make you a millionaire BUT this doesn’t mean you can’t save some pennies along the way.

Each country is different – there is no set TEFL teacher wage – it all depends on your employer, the country, how much experience you have and your destination’s standard of living.

For example, in China wages do not appear particularly high but when your employers are providing you with subsidised rent, or even paying for your accommodation and meals, then the rest of your wage is purely spending money.

In countries such as the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Japan, TEFL teachers are paid extremely well and receive excellent bonuses such as free airfare, and even gym membership! For example, many TEFL teachers in South Korea save up to 1,000,000 South Korean Won (£580) per month.

How can TEFL help your CV?

Teaching Boost your CVNot only does Teaching English as a Foreign Language do wonders for your own personal development as a great life experience (plus you get to travel and see the world!), a TEFL qualification can help boost that ever-important CV.

A few skills to impress your future employer with:

  • Resourcefulness – if you choose to teach English in a remote part of the world then it is most likely that resources will not always be in plentiful supply – creativity and managing your class will be key aspects of your teaching experience abroad
  • International work experience – ranked extremely highly by employers, working abroad demonstrates your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Dedication – most TEFL contracts are for one year – this will not only allow you to immerse yourself in another culture for longer than the average holiday! It also allows you to see how you have directly impacted the lives of others through teaching English.
  • Learning another language – if you’re going to live in another country you’ll soon start picking up local phrases!
  • Communication skills – you don’t speak the local language and they don’t speak yours, yet you can still teach English to your new class – very impressive communication skills!

Where can TEFL take you?

TEFL Teacher‘TEFLer’ Sophie Roberts left the UK after graduating from university. She enrolled on the China Internship and by the end of her 5 months teaching she decided to embark on her own TEFL adventure. Two years later she has just finished up a 2 year teaching stint in South Korea!

DO TEFL, GO AND EXPLORE, HAVE A BLAST… These have been the best ten months of my life

TEFL can take you all over the world and back again. You pick the destination, you pick who you want to teach! Finished your contract in Japan? Why not head over to Taiwan?

The great thing about TEFL is that you can determine your own path and your own future.

How do you go about getting TEFL qualified?

Getting TEFL qualified is not as hard as you may think. TEFL is measured in hours so with a combination of online and classroom courses ranging from 20 to 140 hours you can pick your own qualification and build up your qualifications as you go along!

Although there is a high demand for English teachers you’ll find that many countries request a degree in order to grant a Working Visa. To know you’re eligible to teach, employers will often request at least 120 hours of TEFL training too.

It’s important not to get confused about the number of courses out there.

WARNING: Some may appear better value than others but you need to check whether they are highly recognised. We have reviewed and summarised the best five options below.

  1. LoveTEFL

    loveteflLoveTEFL are great because you can learn online or over the course of a weekend for very affordable prices.

    The qualifications on offer are recognised by the majority of employers.

    LoveTEFL will not only give you a qualification in order to teach English abroad but they will also help you get the job you are after with a full list of opportunities in countries like China and Thailand.

    Course cost: Starts from £99 to £280

    Find out more »

  2. ThaiJobs

    thaijobsThis is an all in package but decent if you are fully set on teaching in Thailand or China.

    You can choose to do the course from home in 120 hours for just £899 or do it on location in Thailand for £1199.

    You won’t have to hunt down your own job either as they cover the placement for you.

    Course cost: Starts from £585 to £1199

    Find out more »

  3. i-to-i

    i-to-i reviewi-to-i offer a course with a mix of both online and offline training in order to get you ready to teach abroad. The offline learning has many benefits and lifelong lessons such as reducing your travel costs.

    The i-to-i TEFL course may not yet be as widely recognised, but if you really are cash strapped then it may be an option.

    Their website also offers a job search board for you to find the most suitable TEFL  jobs abroad.

    Course cost: Starts from £189 to £1,945 for Level 5 qualification

    Find out more »

  4. Cambridge CELTA

    download (15)This TEFL course also allows to you to combine both online and offline learning to reach your goal. It can be said that it is for those that are more keen on teaching as a career and teaching abroad especially.

    The Cambridge CELTA is one of the most recognised courses available and the reputation also comes from having the Cambridge name attached to it.

    Course cost: Around £1,000

    Find out more »

  5. Trinity CertTESOL

    trinity-3This is the second most recognised course behind the Cambridge CELTA. This qualification is accepted almost anywhere worldwide.

    You can learn with a combination of online and offline courses at a number of locations.

    Course cost: £995

    Find out more »

Have you taught English abroad? We’d love to hear your experiences!

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One Response to “A guide to TEFL (Teaching English Abroad)”

  1. Steven

    09. Aug, 2016

    TEFL is good for a gap year, and nothing more. My regret is that I stayed abroad for quite a long time before realising it is not a long term career move. Do it for a year then get a proper job


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