… so what is a TEFL Course and who is it for exactly?

I have been in Prague for almost two months now… very hard to believe! For the month of August, I took a 4-week intensive TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course with the vision to teach English first in order to start work immediately and then eventually apply for international companies in the area.  Well, some things have changed but let me break down the process, especially for those interested in doing this or passing along to others who may want to but have no idea where to start!

  • Applying for a TEFL Course
    • So you have decided that you want to teach English as a way of traveling, seeing new places, figuring out what you want to do in this life…. It is a great option that can definitely show you those things or even turn into your career! I would highly recommend an intensive course as it really shows you what you are getting into – and you can decide from there. I liked this particular course – TEFL Worldwide Prague – as it’s highly credited and the instructors were very knowledgable. They prepare very well for the teaching world.  However, you must be willing to work hard and basically get in ‘school mode’ for weeks – which of course I just loved!  Take it seriously as you are paying for it.
  • Where to Apply?
  • Who is this for?
    • I would like to say anyone but that really isn’t true.  It’s definitely worth thinking about no matter which stage of life you are in – definitely anyone can do it but I do not think it’s right for everyone.  Look at your financial situation, relationship status, future goals..those things matter.  I have met those from 18 years of age to 88 years with their spouse! So it’s definitely a path anyone can take at anytime if right for them.
  • Where to teach?
    • That’s up to you!  Most people go to Asia to pay off student debt/loans because they pay for everything including your visa and plane ticket there and then one can save up to $15,000 in one year especially in South Korea.  Other places that pay well are Japan and China but the cost of living goes up.  Others really like Taiwan and Vietnam as well! Europe is a favorite destination (of course), but the pay is not great in regards to saving or paying off loans and the flight/visa are not paid for.  The most common places to teach are Spain, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, or France.  The Middle East is growing in popularity as well but still very limited jobs for women – the pay is very high and everything else is paid for. If you are wanting to learning a language, go where they speak that language!
  • How to choose?
    • So many options, right?! It can be overwhelming! First, look at your financial situation and make sure you have enough for the course, flight, travel, food, and extra savings.  Some people have gone to teach in South Korea after the course to save money/pay off debt and then applied for jobs in Europe after a one year contract.  The nice thing about the TEFL world is that it is a community in itself- you will be a part of groups via social media and email that you will be able to see other available jobs in an instant!   If you want to go to Europe but can’t afford it, maybe start in Asia if you can be that adventurous for a year.
  • Is this a smart move for the future?
    • This is truly up to you.  This is the time to dig deep and see what you are longing to do – I do not encourage this at all if you are running away or just floating through life looking for something to do. Your problems will follow you wherever you go – at the same time, a new place can be refreshing and new cultures show you such different ways of life.  I am very Type A so while I do not regret my travels at all ( I taught for one year in China at age 22 and again in the Czech Republic at age 25….), I am definitely such a planner so it was always a bit hard for me to picture what was next.  But my overseas experiences have shaped me into who I am today and hence, why I am back hopefully long term in Prague!  Plus, a year abroad on your resume doesn’t look so bad, especially nowadays!
  • The big question: do you have to know the language?!
    • NO! Not at all.  It actually helps when you don’t know so you are not relying on that when teaching. Students (especially kids) learn better when you are forced to communicate only in English. It creates a very natural setting! And lots of photos are needed. VERY needed.
  • What are the requirements to teach?
    • Most companies want you to have an undergraduate degree, a TEFL certificate, and a sense of adventure. Oh, and that you can speak English. REAL English.
  • What or who can you teach exactly?
    • Many options especially depending on where you go!  Kids, teenagers, adults…. You can teach in a school or in companies. It depends on what the language school (who hires you) works with and needs.  Asia is popular for kids. Europe is more for companies (which means early mornings before their work day and then after work too)!  You can also teach specialize courses such as Business English, Marketing, Soft Skills, or English Camps!
  • Sooo… what now?
    • Well start researching! Read articles here for general travel info (www. gooverseas.com).
    • Look at www.teflworldwideprague.com and www.tefl.com – read reviews and all of the tabs to get a good picture of the TEFL courses
    • Give yourself 4-6 months for research, flight booking, planning, etc….
    • Look at a world map – Take a breath.
    • Email anyone for more advice and information (like me!)
    • You will get homesick -so natural as this is something so new! Read up about culture shock (and reverse culture shock – just to be aware)
    • Remember that building a community takes time in a new place as well…while traveling and seeing new things are wonderful, it can be hard when also trying to find your niche and the right people
    • Don’t make any rash decisions. But also don’t be scared if the timing is right to do this – take a leap of faith. It could be the best decision of your entire life! And if not, well, you sometimes learn more the hard way right?

Salzburg

Salzburg, Austria 2012. Sound of Music Tour – The best!

~And then I realized that adventures are the best way to learn ~

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