When you think of teaching English, it’s easy to think of far-flung locales, endless beaches, exotic street food and feeling lost in another culture. All of those things can be amazing, of course, but adventure and learning don’t only occur on the other side of a plane journey.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language doesn’t have to be about exploring the world, or travelling at all. For those already residing in English-speaking countries, there are plenty of reasons to stay local. Whether it’s care needs, proximity to family, or anything else, you absolutely can teach English without moving across the globe. While yes, TEFL can be a ticket to the rest of the world, it can also be a way of contributing to your local community.
What are the opportunities like in English-speaking countries? Surely they’re limited? Well, no, that’s not quite the case, and we’ll explore that.
Is it possible to TEFL in English-speaking countries? Sure: let’s get into it.
The demand is there!
Firstly, we need to deal with a pervasive idea that doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. The fact is, not everyone in English-speaking countries can actually speak English, for a number of reasons. Take, for example, the UK: close to 900,000 people can’t speak English. In Canada, one in four people have a first language that isn’t English or French. 8.2% of American citizens don’t speak English “well”.
Nobody has to speak English, of course, but it’s a misconception that there isn’t demand for English teachers within English-speaking countries. Quite the opposite, in fact; English-speaking countries need English teachers, especially those who can teach it as a foreign language.
Where are these opportunities? Typically, in schools, universities and colleges. International students are massive for universities and colleges, and naturally, jobs providing extra English tuition, or translation services, will arise. Private tuition for English learners is also a significant industry even within English-speaking countries, as are summer schools for English learners.
If you’re really keen to make a difference in your community, doing some voluntary work with refugees and asylum seekers can be truly rewarding, fulfilling work. Though it’s in big cities where there’s most demand, most local authorities will have information, as will relevant charities.
Something to consider…
To find TEFL work in an English-speaking country, you’re going to need qualifications and, in most cases, experience. A bachelor’s and a high-quality TEFL certificate are generally the minimum. Additionally, the competition is fierce for paid work, so that experience we mentioned will come in clutch if you’re trying to stand out.
These things shouldn’t put you off, necessarily, but it’s important to remember!
Can you get a visa to TEFL in an English-speaking country?
In countries where English is the dominant language, there are already plenty of people within the country capable of teaching English. Therefore, these countries have very little need to recruit from abroad. So, generally, unless you already have the right to live and work in an English-speaking country, you’re extremely unlikely to get a visa. If you have citizenship or a spousal visa, then you can get in that way, but if you’re moving purely to teach English as a foreign language, and have no connection to the country in question, it can be next to impossible.
As ever, it’s worth consulting with an embassy to assess your chances, but unless you have an extremely solid link to the country in question, it’s extremely difficult to get a work visa to teach English.
Then, of course, there’s teaching English online. Just because you’re based somewhere, it doesn’t mean your students have to be. Working online means meeting English learners from all over the world, with different levels of proficiency, different needs and more to offer you in return in terms of cultural exchange.
The most common two ways to go about it are either working freelance or for a company. If you work freelance you can set your own rates, cut out the middle man in terms of arranging classes, be answerable to yourself only, and build a client base yourself. With a company, you can work within an existing infrastructure, be guaranteed clients from the get-go, and not have to deal with taxes and accounting. Either way, you can work from an English-speaking country – perhaps the one you live in currently – and still travel all over the world with work!
In either eventuality, you could work as a digital nomad, travelling from country to country, potentially including nations where English is the most common language. Being a digital nomad is proving increasingly popular, with more and more countries opening up to digital nomads, especially in the EU.
Finding TEFL jobs in English-speaking countries
So how do you find TEFL jobs in English-speaking countries?
As we’ve covered, the demand is as high in English-speaking countries as anywhere else. Plenty of people emigrate to English-speaking countries for several reasons, and having access to infrastructure to learn English is an important part of becoming settled.
Language training centres are most definitely a useful port of call for aspiring TEFL teachers in English-speaking nations. Whether it’s the USA, the UK or any other English-speaking nation, there are plenty of businesses that provide training in English. Alternatively, there are colleges where English is taught, while some schools have evening classes, and local councils everywhere will have information for TEFL jobs.
Tutoring is also a fantastic option. English tutors are very common, and popular with school-age students who are looking to pass exams and boost their test scores. Both native and non-native English speakers at school age need tutoring, and opportunities are vast if you’re able to advertise yourself well and demonstrate teaching skills.
Suffice it to say, you’ll be surprised by the opportunities! Check The TEFL Org’s Job Centre for more teaching jobs in English-speaking countries.
TEFL jobs in big English-speaking markets
Some of the biggest markets for TEFL jobs in English-speaking countries are the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. Well-paid, full-time work is available, but jobs are often advertised to people with excellent qualifications and experience. So, where are all the jobs? Let’s break it down.
The best options for TEFLing in the UK are in the summer, or working with charities. In the summer, big cities like London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff tend to be full of summer camp opportunities, normally serving children who head to the UK to learn English and build academic skills.
Charities, meanwhile, normally provide language learning opportunities for asylum seekers, refugees and newcomers of all kinds. In addition to this, councils look for TEFL teachers who can provide classroom assistance for children who don’t speak English as their first language.
Read our comprehensive guide to teaching English in the UK for more.
The demand for TEFL teachers in the USA is surprisingly big. For one thing, the USA has territories where English isn’t the most common language, such as Hawai’i and Puerto Rico, so the options extend beyond mainland USA.
Elementary and high school positions for TEFL teachers are available, largely to candidates with qualifications beyond a TEFL or CELTA certificate, while universities often have language centres where TEFL teachers are very much in demand. If you’re not from the USA and are looking for TEFL work, it’s well worth doing some research on teaching programmes, some of which can last 3-5 years.
Read more about teaching in the USA here.
If you feel ‘The North’ calling, Canada has loads of great opportunities. In large Canadian cities like Toronto, a range of languages are spoken, including Cantonese, Punjabi and Italian, while Quebec is a French-speaking region. As such, the demand for qualified, skilled TEFL teachers is considerable.
Much like in the USA, school jobs are plentiful, especially in bilingual regions of Canada, or in more multicultural cities. As with other English-speaking countries, the requirements are very strict, and getting a visa can be extremely tough, but if you’re qualified and have experience, you could find yourself living well while teaching English in Canada.
As our comprehensive guide to teaching English in Canada points out, knowledge of French is extremely helpful.
If Australia tickles your fancy, you’re in luck. Perhaps the most job-friendly of all English-speaking countries, Australia’s location means it’s full of students and new arrivals who want to learn the language. Australia is full of international schools, language centres, public schools and universities where TEFL teachers are sorely needed.
Again, visas can be difficult to attain initially, but if you’re highly qualified (with at least a bachelor’s and a TEFL certificate), you’ll likely find yourself wanted by employers. While full-time work can be hard to find outside the major cities, there are internships and programmes aplenty, which you can do on a student visa.
To get a scope of the opportunities to teach English in Australia, our guide will get you started.
Want to make an impact? Teach English!
Again, when it comes to TEFL, people will automatically think of working and living abroad, teaching English to classes full of eager learners. There’s immense value in that, and if that’s what you want to do, you’ll find a world full of incredible opportunities.
However, remarkable as it sounds, it’s bigger than that. There are people looking to learn English everywhere, and that’s especially true in countries where people are expected to speak it. The impact of TEFL really can start from your own doorstep.
The value of language is enormous. Yes, you could teach classes, or work online, but you could also help people in your community find work, fill out important forms, pass the IELTS and so much more.
Perhaps, some of the most meaningful and rewarding TEFL work is, in fact, in English-speaking countries.
Not TEFL qualified yet? Check out our range of courses!