Possibly one of our most frequently asked questions is whether or not being adept in another language is necessary to teach English abroad. The short answer is: no. No, you do not need to be fluent in any other language – after all, it is English you’re going abroad to teach. However, that doesn’t mean broadening your linguistic palette should be completely shunned. On the contrary, you would definitely find it useful to at least figure out the common phrases of wherever you plan to teach. Eventually, you may even find yourself becoming comfortable conversing with native speakers.
Not only will acquiring new language skills help with everyday life abroad, but it will also vastly improve your CV and broaden possible job opportunities in the future.
Learning a new language can seem a daunting prospect, especially if you plan to teach in a country where the local tongue is completely foreign to you. That’s why I’ve listed a few ways which will hopefully ease the learning process…
The industry of language tutoring is booming and a simple Google (or any other preferred form of search tool) will lead you to a vast array of websites advertising tutorship to an equally wide range of languages. It’s fairly unlikely for you not to be able to find someone willing to teach the language you want to learn. Some good examples of such websites are:
- Verbling – One of the largest language tutor sites to exist is Verbling. With over 50 languages on offer, you’ll be certain to find what you’re looking for. A fantastic feature Verbling offers is the chance to preview lessons of a teacher you’re interested in. That way, you know what you’re paying for.
- italki – Another giant in the online language learning world, italki offers much the same as Verbling. This is a site that’s great for those looking to learn a language as quick as possible.
- Duolingo – Renowned for its accessibility, Duolingo is a free and easy to use site (and app) which allows you to pick a specific language to learn. Once you choose your language, you are taken through a thorough course on the vocabulary and grammar of said language.
Essentially the same as online tutors, but in person. Getting taught in person is still preferred by many over online which means there’s a strong likelihood that your nearest town will have advertisements for all sorts. Remember that the bigger the city, the more likely the language you’re seeking will be on offer. Check online for advertisements. Some good sites are:
Work better in a group? No problem! There are plenty of opportunities to learn any language you like as part of a team. Group classes are common in towns and cities so make sure to keep n eye out in local advertisements.
Website ‘Meetup’ offers a unique page listing a bunch of locations where you can join language classes all over the world. Take a look here!
Spending Time Abroad
Perhaps the best way to properly learn a new language is to go to the country where it’s spoken most. By living abroad, you force yourself to truly understand the language because, otherwise, how on Earth would you survive? This works for any language, no matter how strange and foreign. Say you’re living in Spain and all you see, hear, and speak is Spanish then eventually, no matter how bad you claim to be, you will undoubtedly improve.
That’s not to say you’ll become an expert the moment you step off the plane – it will still take time and dedication – but there is a reason TEFL teachers are encouraged only to speak English when teaching: if all you hear is one language then you’ll be forced to pick it up yourself.
Don’t fret if you don’t think you have time to go through all the training becoming skilled in another language requires – it’s really not compulsory! TEFL is about teaching English and nothing more. As I mentioned earlier, once you’re in a new country, it’ll be nearly impossible not to gain at least a slight grasp of the local lingo.