How can I become a teacher of English?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have a degree to teach English


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30 Novembre 2022 - 23.00


The choice to become an English teacher is made by many people from all walks of life, for various reasons. For some, it’s wanting a taste of what it’s like to live abroad, for others it’s to dip a toe into the field of education before diving into a degree. 

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What bonds these diverse ambitions is that getting into teaching English is relatively straightforward, making it accessible to everyone. By following a few simple steps, you too can be on your way to joining the ranks of ESL educators across the globe in no time. 

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Get Qualified It’s a common misconception that you need to have a degree to teach English. While many employers may list it as a prerequisite, there are still plenty of opportunities available for those who decided not to pursue higher education. What you will certainly need to have though, is a TEFL qualification. 

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A variety of TEFL courses can be found online, with 120 hours of studying being the industry standard to land a job. How you choose to complete your course is also often up to you. Courses are usually offered online or in person, with the choice between weekend or weekday attendance, meaning that you should have no issues with fitting it around your other commitments. 

Regardless of how you go about getting your qualification, you’ll have the opportunity to pick the brains of experienced tutors. By the end of your course, you’ll be fully qualified and ready to enter the teaching world, and have gained invaluable advice on how to navigate  TEFL opportunities in the process. 

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Know your grammar  Knowing English grammar inside-out is integral to being an English teacher. You will need to be able to explain it in-depth and dissect it for students on a daily basis, especially if you’re teaching adults. Unlike children, adult learners learn more deliberately and need to understand the rules of a language to apply them. 

If you hail from the UK, in particular, you’ll most likely be of a generation that missed out on the 2014 change in the National Curriculum which reintroduced a more rigorous examination of English grammar. This is something that had been nearly non-existent prior. And so, much like the swathes of ill-prepared UK teachers who were saved by the creative solution offered by Professor Bas Arts and his team at UCL, the onus to learn your grammar is on you.  

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Beyond its necessity for your job, knowing your grammar makes it easier to learn another language, so it’s an added bonus for any future English teachers hoping to move abroad. 

Get experience Getting experience is one of the most important steps to take before becoming an English teacher. By applying to internships, shadowing experienced ESL teachers or volunteering you’ll get a taste of teaching English so that you can then decide if it’s for you or not in the long term. Volunteering, in particular, is a rewarding way to help refugees who won’t have the same resources as paying students. 

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In addition to this, practical experience, especially with students whose language you don’t speak, will teach you how to manage a class and teach around that language barrier. You’ll learn what works, and what doesn’t and get the opportunity to reflect and adapt your lessons accordingly to do a better job the next time around. 

Ultimately, by the time you start your first full-time teaching gig, you’ll have ditched most of the first-day jitters and feel confident in your command of the classroom, as well as your knowledge of how to recover when things don’t go to plan.  

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Apply for positions Remember that when applying for teaching positions you’ll have to first decide whether you’d like to teach online or in person. Either way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities with the global demand for it in business in particular, as explained in further detail by Which one you opt for will depend on how much adventure you’re after. 

On the one hand, teaching online gives you the added flexibility to work from home or to travel for a while, making it a good option for those that want the best of both worlds. So long as you have a decent internet connection, you’ll get to come and go as you please, in complete control of your schedule. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a complete change of scene and to immerse yourself in a new culture, you could apply to teach English in a country like Mexico. Mexico City and Monterrey are both popular cities to teach in, and through immersion, you could pick up Spanish, another of the most spoken languages in the world. 

Where you choose to apply depends on your teach English in Mexico strategy; if it’s to gain some experience, volunteering is a great option, otherwise, you can apply to public and private schools, and even universities. 

Be prepared

Once you’ve reached the interview stage, it’s quite common practice for an employer to request to see a demo lesson, so have one ready. A little bit of preparation in advance will mean that you have a lesson you know like the back of your hand on hand to really impress and land yourself a job offer, or two. 

If, instead, the demo lesson is assigned to you by the employer, don’t panic. Gather as much information as you can beforehand. You’ll need to know what age group you’ll be expected to teach, how many students you’ll have, what their levels are, how long the lesson should be, and if you’ll be expected to provide the resources. From there, it’s just like prepping for any other class. 

Don’t lose heart if it doesn’t work out the first time. Demos can be stressful as they are observed by potential employers and experienced teachers. Take the interviewer’s feedback on board and tweak anything that needs to be fixed for future interviews. Lucrative roles can be especially competitive, and as a new teacher starting out in the industry you may need to try and try again before you receive your first official job offer. 

On the whole, becoming an English teacher requires commitment and a willingness to keep learning. While following these steps will get you a foot in the door, becoming an English teacher is a continual process. There is something to be learned from every lesson, and from every student. If you’re open to those teaching moments, then you can officially call yourself an English teacher. 

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