Erica Fairchild

Have you ever wondered how you could start teaching English abroad, even though you have little-to-no experience in a classroom? You might be surprised to know that many English teachers begin their careers this way, and simply learn on the job. However, if you are not ready to dive straight into the deep end, here are some steps to learn how to doggie paddle.

Step 1: Get Qualified

Getting a teaching qualification is not as difficult as it might seem. Not only that, it will give you the knowledge and resources to jumpstart your TEFL career. Most English schools abroad require a minimum of a TEFL or TESOL certificate, both of which can be obtained online. Costs range depending on their type, length, and region obtained, but most are reasonably priced and all certification stays valid for your lifetime. Consider it an investment. Even better, some teaching organizations will actually sponsor you to get your TESOL. English First (EF) is one of them. Most TEFL/TESOL courses will teach a range of abilities, such as lesson planning, how to teach the four components necessary for language learning, and an understanding of classroom management through practicum. Search social media and video sharing sites for teaching examples and you will be a pro in no time. Speaking of being a pro, have a look at different games, songs and activities you can play with your future students. Much of these are unfortunately left out in English learning and having a few up your sleeve can make you stand out amongst your TEFL teacher colleagues (and make you a favorite among the students, too!)

Step 2: Choose a Destination

Once you have the background and a certificate in-hand, it's time to choose a destination. Doing work abroad is exceptionally rewarding, and choosing a country to begin your TEFL career should be just as exciting. Asia is the most popular place to start, and countries such as China, Indonesia and Russia, Korea and Japan boast the highest salaries. Brainstorm what type of place you want to live in for a year. Do you think you would miss four seasons? Perhaps it would be better to go with Korea or China, places with similar temperatures to North America and parts of Europe. Love the city, but want to have a bit of adventure in nature, too? China is the third-biggest country in the world, which means you will have a never-ending list of places to go and visit. Not to mention, it could be a fabulous middle-ground to use as a base for traveling to surrounding countries. Consider the language as well. Over a billion people speak Chinese; how do you think that would look if you had it on your resume? At English First, you can learn Chinese face-to-face in their free classes. Convenience and a change to make new friends- that's winning!

Step 3: Find the Job of Your Dreams

Are you ready to start the job hunt? Work abroad is plenty and there will be no shortage of offers for a TEFL teacher. Try your favorite job-hunting sites and if that fails, there are many sites specifically targeting native-speaking English language teachers. While most entry-level positions will pay about 16 (USD) an hour, you can certainly find others which pay up to $20 an hour or more for a full-time position. Be sure to think about ways you can cut living costs by living with roommates, taking public transportation, or living in a smaller community, where prices tend to be cheaper than the big cities. All in all, living costs are much cheaper in Asian countries than back West, so chances are you will even be able to save money while abroad. Next, think about what ages you feel most comfortable teaching. The best jobs are the ones teaching younger children, the classroom itself is going to be an adventure- you will most likely make wonderful connections with students, keeping those memories for a lifetime. At a big organization such as EF, some of the teachers have enjoyed opportunities to travel by transferring to different schools. If you are also the kind of person who wants to see a lot of a country, perhaps go straight to EF's website and have a look on their job boards.

Regardless of where you choose, which job you pick, and what you decide to do with your spare time, there is one thing you can absolutely expect: teaching English abroad will be one of the most memorable experiences of your young adult life. Our advice? Go for it! You can send us a thank-you note later.

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