Have you ever wondered who TEFLs?
You’ll come across both young university graduates looking for an opportunity to explore the world and dedicated EFL professionals who have many years of experience and qualifications under their belt. There are EFL teachers who used to work in journalism, customer service, and hospitality; who ran their own businesses, or even taught a completely different subject before – the list could keep going.
To answer the question in this blog title straight away – the truth is that there is no typical profile of a TEFLer. They really do come from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life, with varying motivations for teaching English.
TEFL Org graduate, Harriet, noted the diverse group of people on her classroom TEFL course:
The individuals in my TEFL group demonstrated to me that teaching English abroad appeals to absolutely everyone. Among others, there was a young university student with a retro style and passion for photography, a recent graduate from Aberystwyth who was too good looking for me to talk to seriously, a divorcee who was looking for an escape and a prospective primary school teacher keeping her options open. Together we formed an enthusiastic and inspirational group.
Whether it’s a passion for teaching or travelling – or both! – that has led someone to TEFL be assured that no matter what your background, experience, or motivations are there are opportunities to be found out there for you.
Here are some groups of people we often see take our courses!
We see many teachers who already hold teaching qualifications in their home country getting TEFL qualified and finding work abroad in pursuit of less paperwork and stress.
You’ll also find seasoned EFL professionals who may be DELTA qualified [link] or even hold PhDs – they all started somewhere, often with an initial TEFL qualification, so for those wondering about career progression in TEFL there are opportunities out there.
There are also aspiring teachers who TEFL as the first step in their career – teaching experience is necessary if you’re applying for a PGDE/PGCE so it’s a great way to tick this box as well as find out if teaching is really for you before committing to a postgraduate course. Then there are those who TEFL with the intention of doing it for a year or two to see the world and end up discovering a real passion for teaching and devoting themselves to it. Who knows where TEFL will take you?
The jobs market is tough and not everyone has a career planned out by the time they finish university. Teaching English is an attractive option for graduates straight out of university, offering a paying job, the experience of living and working in a foreign country, and the opportunity to develop a range of transferable skills.
Joel and Menna left for China just a week after graduating from Swansea University and although neither is planning on pursing teaching as a career when they come back to the UK, they’ve so far been able to travel extensively, learn a new language, and save towards buying a house during their time in China.
A degree opens up the world to prospective EFL teachers as many countries require teachers to have one for visa purposes. Don’t worry if you don’t have a degree, though – your options are a bit more limited but there are still opportunities out there!
A common question we’re asked is ‘am I too old to TEFL?’ – the answer is no! TEFL isn’t just for young people in their 20s or 30s. It’s true that there are countries (particularly in Asia) with strict retirement ages, so if you’re older than 55 these countries may not be possible for you, but there are plenty of other places you can teach.
Many retirees we’ve trained have gone on to volunteer in their local communities, teach English online, and teach abroad. We have some more information and tips for finding work if you fall in the older age bracket here.
If you’re going to travel the world you need to finance it somehow. TEFL can be a great way to explore the world – teachers can use their time off to explore the country they’re in and may have lengthy periods between contracts giving them the chance to explore further afield.
We’re seeing more and more digital nomads teaching English online as a means of funding their adventures. Being location independent means you’re free to travel and spend as little or as long in a place as you please.
David, one of our TEFL course graduates, travels the world as a digital nomad and found that teaching online not only provided him with an income but countered the loneliness you can sometimes experience on the road by yourself:
My confidence is growing daily, my student base is growing daily (I currently have approximately 25 lessons a week) and most of all, I’m enjoying myself!! Obviously the most important factor is the student’s learning, however I have discovered something I never expected. The life of a solo traveller or Digital Nomad can be lonely. Teaching English online using my 120-hour TEFL [link] has allowed me to meet fascinating and interesting people from across the globe, from numerous locations, many of which I have visited previously.
If this sounds good to you then make sure to check out our 5 great tips for becoming a TEFL digital nomad!
People looking for a change
Whether you’re looking for a career break, a completely new career, or a change in scenery, TEFL is ideal. We’ve trained plumbers, PhDs, supermarket checkout assistants, administrators, managers – the list could go on and on – who have used their TEFL qualification to teach abroad, at home, and online.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to make a change of your own and get TEFL qualified take a look at our student stories and find out more about what our graduates get up to after they’ve gained their qualification. You might have your own exciting story to share one day soon!