Though making your first steps in the world of teaching English abroad can be intimidating, you don’t need vast experience to be a fantastic teacher. In fact, your fresh impetus and ingenuity could be a real plus in the classroom!
You might be at the start of your career, or at a fork in the road, and TEFL offers your brightest and best chance to reinvigorate your CV.
Maybe you’ve seen an advert for a TEFL course or you’ve just graduated from college. No matter what age you are, it’s a feeling of newness and adventure that’s putting the vigour back in your 9-5 - or at least that’s the plan.Ah, but - and there’s always a ‘but’ - you don’t have any experience teaching. You’ve never taught kids or adults of any age how to speak English as a foreign language. That, some might feel, is the end-point of this folly, a checkpoint you can’t drive through.
Well, thankfully, we’re here to tell you that just isn’t the case. There is plenty of work for new TEFL teachers who don’t have any experience. While some countries and some specific jobs may require a candidate with some teaching credit in the bank, there are - quite literally - a world of opportunities out there, whether you’ve got experience or not.
Let’s dive into the world of TEFL with no experience!
Yes, you can teach English abroad without experience.
Consider this: how does anyone get started in anything? If all jobs were barred to the inexperienced, there’d be no chance for anyone to master new skills, and gain a foothold in an industry.Along the way, someone has to take a chance on you, whether it’s TEFL or anything else. So, of course, you can get started teaching English abroad with no experience - provided, that is, you have the CV and the qualifications to justify it.
The best first step is to become TEFL qualified. A 120-hour qualification is the industry standard, and will open the door for a litany of opportunities worldwide, but there are more advanced courses that may tailor to specific job needs, while also making applicants more attractive to employers.
Then, it’s about finding a location. Where in the world will someone who wants to teach English abroad with no experience? You’d be surprised by what’s available, across the corners of the globe.
Below, you can see a table listing dozens of countries around the world and their requirements. If a country is listed as not requiring experience then this means you should be able to find plenty of job adverts suitable for newly-qualified teachers.
If it’s listed as requiring experience then it means you’d be very unlikely to find paid work without a few years of TEFL teaching under your belt. And those listed as ‘preferred’ means that it can be possible to find work if you’re new to teaching, but expect to find it more difficult to secure work than in a country where there are lots of entry-level positions going.
While you don't need a TEFL certification to teach English abroad, per se, it's extremely difficult to find a teaching job without one.A TEFL certificate demonstrates a number of things. Fundamentally, it's evidence of putting in hard work to ensure opportunities abroad, or online, in the world of English teaching. Secondly, it's demonstrable proof that you can teach English as a foreign language, and have ambitions of either teaching abroad, living abroad, or at least securing a work visa to find ESL jobs overseas.
If job hunting can feel like repeatedly knocking on the door, TEFL certification can represent a key. ESL jobs are competitive, and there's a whole raft of ESL teachers who are finding opportunities abroad as an English teacher, having studied and achieved TEFL certification.
It can be hard to find TEFL jobs abroad without a degree, let alone without a TEFL certification. Getting TEFL qualified really is the best way to secure a job in teaching English, and it provides a great opportunity to demonstrate your ambitions and skills in the classroom, or online.
Now we've established that you can get a TEFL job in another country, and that there are jobs aplenty around the world, let's discuss the 4 key steps you'll need to take to teaching English abroad with no experience.
Years ago, it used to be possible for native English speakers to walk into TEFL jobs abroad with no teaching experience or qualifications. Today that’s much more difficult to do with the majority of employers worldwide requiring English teachers to have at least a 120-hour TEFL qualification.
Most of our students have no previous teaching experience, which is why our courses are designed to set you up with all the skills and knowledge you need to start teaching English for the first time.
You can get your TEFL qualification entirely online or combine online and classroom study. If you’re completely new to teaching then a classroom course is highly recommended to give you some practical experience that will look great on your CV.
The 120-hour TEFL qualification is the industry standard, and for sure, it'll go a long way in securing that first job teaching English abroad. A TEFL certification is a pre-requisite for those hoping to teach abroad, and English teachers without one will likely struggle to find international teaching jobs of any sort.
To set yourself apart, though, it might be prudent to become TEFL certified in different and more advanced ways. For example, an extra TEFL certification in teaching Young Learners will make any applicant more attractive to schools that teach 5-16-year-olds.Alternatively, preparing adult learners for IELTS and equivalent English proficiency exams is a great way to teach. Experienced or not, doing an exam preparation TEFL certification can really help find English teaching positions abroad. We'll expand on this later in the article.
See our article about online and classroom courses for more information about choosing the right option for you.
If you really want to stand out and land a great TEFL job despite having no teaching experience then there are a couple of things you can do after you get your initial TEFL qualification.
We run advanced TEFL courses in Teaching English Online, Teaching Business English, and Teaching Young Learners, and Teaching Exam Preparation Classes, which are great to add on to your training. If you’re interested in specialising and intend on applying for jobs in any of these areas, then these courses will further enhance your teaching abilities and show employers that you’re dedicated.
Volunteering to teach English as a foreign language is a good option if you do want to gain some experience before pursuing paid work. This helps to boost your TEFL employability, but more importantly, it will improve your confidence in the classroom and give you a feel for teaching. If you are able to give up some of your time to volunteer you can find positions abroad and at home.
You can also gain experience right at home as an online English teacher! Teaching English online can be an ideal way to get started and build up some confidence and experience teaching English. You’re able to put your TEFL qualification to use as soon as you finish the course and any teaching experience you gain will be beneficial when you apply for TEFL jobs abroad.
Could there be advantages to teaching English overseas with no experience?
Perhaps! For one thing, international teaching jobs are always an option for those with great ideas. New lesson plans, games and media for English learners are always welcome, and any new ESL teacher worth their salt will have something they want to bring to the table.Also, teaching without preconceived notions or expectations can be a good thing. Yes, having prior teaching jobs abroad on your CV is a great thing, but having a fresh impetus isn't just advantageous for yourself, but it can rub off on others. If you have real enthusiasm, and no real expectations for how your lessons will go, it can absolutely be a scary prospect, but a hugely exciting one all the same.
No teacher, whether they teach abroad or online, was ever born ready to do it. It's all about gaining experience, and any good employer will help you through all the early challenges. You'll learn what to expect from an employer when you teach abroad, what kind of support you should get, and what works in your classes.
Not having experience doesn't have to be a bad thing. That's true for both yourself and a prospective employer.
Now we've covered all the critical areas of teaching English abroad without experience, and shown which of the different countries are likely to accept TEFL teachers without an extensive CV, let's have a look at the most commonly-asked questions online.
Want to find out more about teaching English abroad? Check out our Guide to Teaching English Abroad for everything you need to know!
Experience is one thing, but many prospective TEFL teachers wonder if they can teach English abroad without a degree.
It's a similar area to the one we've discussed here, and it's just as relevant. Getting into the world of teaching English abroad can be prickly, just as it can be without experience.
However, in both cases, the answer is that yes, you absolutely can do it. Many nations are looking for fresh faces, even those who don't hold a BA or lack years of teaching pedigree. Sure, attaining a work visa in certain countries can be trickier without a degree, but it's certainly not impossible.
There's considerable overlap in the countries that don't require either a degree or teaching experience. Countries in Latin America, for example, are extremely happy to provide teaching abroad opportunities for new TEFL teachers.
For more information, check out our guide on Teaching English Abroad without a degree here.
As covered earlier in this article, there are plenty of places worldwide where you can teach English abroad without experience.
To give a more truncated version, the options are expansive; Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Italy, Romania, Germany, Greece, all of Latin America (though it's preferred in some countries including Argentina), Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan and more countries are taking on teachers without prior experience of teaching English overseas.
For a more full summary of your options, refer to the dedicated section on this article, where there's a comprehensive table of options from across the planet.
We believe it's all about 4 steps, as covered in this article.
Step 1: Get TEFL Qualified - Choose a TEFL course that meets both your demands and teaching aspirations, as well as the accepted industry standard.
Step 2: Choose a destination - Find out which countries and regions are best for teaching abroad without experience. It's also about your needs; where can you see yourself learning the native language, living well and earning a good salary? With the options available, you're bound to find the place for you - experience or not.
Step 3: Prepare your TEFL CV - Whether you realise or not, you probably have teaching experience to some degree. Maybe you've worked in childcare, or you've taught colleagues, given presentations or mentored? All of these things are transferable, along with a whole list of other miscellaneous activities you've likely done.
Then, it's about getting your CV in shape. Try volunteering, or working for an online teaching business to get your skills sharpened. Also, remember to tailor your cover letter and CV for each job you apply for. Really read the person specification and job description, and use some key terms in your application. Employers will definitely take notice.
Step 4: Apply for jobs - It's that simple! Throw some applications around, and your lack of teaching experience won't matter a jot!