Published on November 23rd, 2015 | by tefl


Your Role as a TEFL Teacher.

TEFL is an acronym which stands for teaching English as a foreign language, and it is a qualification earned after passing a one hundred and twenty hour TEFL course.   TEFL refers to teaching both children and adults who are not native English speakers, regardless of whether done domestically (in the UK) or abroad.   Typically, TEFL students are learning English for leisure, academic, or business purposes.

Another acronym typically used when discussing teaching English to non-native speakers is TESOL, or teaching English to speakers of other languages.  Though both TESOL and TEFL are often used interchangeably, TESOL more typically refers to teaching English to non-native speakers who are already in the UK, such as immigrants or refugees.   Normally these students are learning English through a government funded course for the purpose of acclimating to UK life and culture.

Regardless of the acronym used, once you have qualified as a TEFL teacher you will have numerous opportunities available to you to teach English as a foreign language.  These opportunities range from traveling to virtually any country in the world to teaching on your own home soil, perhaps as a way of generating extra income in addition to your current career.  Additionally, you will have the option of teaching students of all age ranges and in a variety of both professional and private settings, such as in language schools anywhere in the world, in corporate business settings, group or even single pupil tutelage, employed with a long term career at a well-known school or simply self-employed and taking on new students as and when suits your needs, the possibilities are endless.

TEFL Work Basics

Regardless of the role or the job setting, however, the expectations that fall to the TEFL teacher are virtually the same the world over.   You would be expected to:

  • Manage a classroom
  • Prep lesson plans and utilise them regardless of the class or age group.
  • Prepare daily exercises.
  • Prepare and deliver tests and examinations.
  • Contributing to and attending TEFL teacher training sessions.
  • Being able to deliver appropriate feedback on all student work.
  • Make your own visual and audio recourses for the classroom, produce your own materials.
  • Get involved with and sometimes organising cultural and social gatherings for your students.
  • Meet external standards and pass regular inspections.
  • Encourage dialog, both with and among students.

Teaching English in the classroom will mean creating an immersive English language environment from day one with your students, even with beginners.   A TEFL teacher is expected to have the skill necessary to set up course long lesson plans that are both effective and engaging, and routinely test for understanding in a way that is fair.   All of these skills will be taught to you as a part of the one hundred and twenty hour TEFL qualification course.

TEFL Teacher Income

The income you receive as a TEFL teacher will vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as whether you are teaching in the UK or a foreign country, if you are hired by a public or private institution or you choose to teach on a freelance basis, as well as any other requirements that were negotiated upon as part of the interview.   In a commercial language school in the UK, a TEFL teacher can expect to earn anywhere from £13,000 to £19,000, with experience earning you quite a bit more.

In foreign countries, however, there isn’t a means of comparing what you might earn.  Just in the Asia region, as example, salaries can vary widely from the £435 – £680 per month you might receive in Cambodia to the £1,5757 – £1,890 per month average in Japan (SOURCE: TEFL Academy: LINK).   What’s more, the salary will oftentimes be in addition to other benefits offered by an employer, such as airfare, health insurance, and accommodation, as such any salary offer would be best compared to the cost of living in the country in which you plan to teach.

Keep in mind, these numbers are a rough example of earning potentials.

TEFL Teacher Requirements

Much like salary, the requirements one needs to teach will vary country to country, employer to employer.   Regardless of whether you plan to teach abroad or in the UK, you will need to complete a one hundred and twenty hour TEFL course at an institution that is accredited and internationally recognised for its accreditation.  The TEFL course will give you the skillset needed to fulfil the basics of the role outlined above, as well as at least six hours real world experience in a classroom.   While many countries will hire TEFL teachers with just a TEFL qualification, some (like the UAE and many Middle Eastern countries, as example) will also want a four year university degree and experience within the role in addition to the TEFL qualification.   Fret not, however, though it may seem overwhelming now to consider the thousands of different options and what they may or may not require, any accredited TEFL school will help you find job placement afterwards in the country you which to teach in, and will help you navigate the requirements, visas, paperwork, and interviews.


TEFL Teacher Qualities

If you’re looking to teach English as a foreign language and are ready to take that first step towards qualifying, know there are a few basic qualities that you will need to have:

  • Fluent knowledge of the English language.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication abilities.
  • A lively and confident persona.
  • Listening skills are an absolute must.
  • No end of patience.
  • A great sense of humour.
  • The ability to relate to and develop a relationship with peoples of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures.
  • A creative mindset for making your lessons enjoyable.

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