Can non-native English speakers work as TEFL teachers?

“English is not my mother tongue, can I still find work teaching English abroad?”

This I one of the regular queries we receive from potential students an in order to address it let’s look at some of the key issues which affect non-native English TEFL teachers and their chances of finding a TEFL Job.

Does being a non-native English speaker hold you back from some TEFL Jobs?

At TEFL Courses Ireland, we believe that if you can speak English to a native or near native level you can learn to teach it. Unfortunately, you will have to face the facts that if you are a non-native English speaker then it’s going to be harder for you to find a TEFL Job, particularly in certain Asian and Middle East locations. There is a strong preference in the TEFL industry towards native English speakers; even if they are not as well trained as you might be, they still get first pick of the jobs. However, despite the prejudice that non-native speakers find when they apply for positions, with some determination it is possible to make a successful career from TEFL even if English is not your first language.

Why non-native English speakers can make effective TEFL teachers

Have you considered offering yourself as a teacher of English and your native tongue? There’s nothing stopping you sourcing additional work while teaching English abroad in this way. Some TEFL employers are also realising that just because English is not your native tongue doesn’t mean you’re not well educated or TEFL trained. TEFL employers need to remember that non-native English teachers can empathise more closely with their students because they have been through the learning process of the language and with a TEFL qualification are trained how to teach it. Non-native English speakers may have also taken a lot more training and are better versed in their knowledge of grammar than native speakers who use it every day but don’t necessarily know what it means.

How can you improve your chances of finding a TEFL Job if you are a non-native speaker?

One of the best things you can do is spend time in an English speaking country. Try and get at least six months full immersion in a country where you are going to be surrounded by English. The greatest fear from many TEFL employers is that you are going to have a heavy accent, so work hard at improving yours when based in an English speaking country. You might consider polishing up your English with a few lessons from a TEFL teacher. This will help you make sure your English is the best it can be as well as giving you more valuable training and experience.

Get experience

A great way to increase your TEFL employability is to get involved with volunteer teaching. It’s also a great way to gain experience, put into practice the skills you learned through your accredited TEFL course and get a real feel for teaching English as a foreign language. There are many volunteer organisations in Ireland looking for Conversational English Teachers and a great place to start looking for those in your locality is to check out Volunteer Ireland.

Get TEFL qualified

The most important thing for all TEFL teachers looking to teach English abroad is to get TEFL qualified. If you are a non-native English speaker or just new to the world of TEFL make sure you get the best TEFL certificate you can from an accredited TEFL body such as TEFL Courses Ireland. TEFL qualifications are awarded by the number of hours of TEFL training you have completed; the higher number of hours, the more your certificate will be worth. In general you will need to take at least 120 hours of TEFL training in order to be eligible for the widest range of TEFL Jobs. Our accredited TEFL courses will supply you with the official TEFL certificate employers are looking for. Our courses, which are run by experienced and professional TEFL teachers, will train you in the skills you need to deliver a TEFL lesson and provide you with invaluable confidence.

Competitive CV

If you are competing against native speakers you need to show that you can add something extra they can’t. To build on your TEFL training you can take one of our Specialist TEFL courses after completing an initial TEFL Certificate. This will show that you have gained some specialist knowledge in an area students want such as Teaching Business EnglishTeaching Young Learners and Teaching English Online, which are all modules which make up your Advanced TEFL courses.

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