Your TEFL qualification opens the door to a whole range of amazing TEFL opportunities, from online TEFL to classroom teaching or private tutoring. Since completing her TEFL certificate in 2018, TEFL teacher Audrey has tried them all! Audrey went live on i-to-i’s Facebook page to talk through the different types of TEFL teaching and how to adapt to the different settings. Watch the full webinar here or read on for edited extracts.
TEACHING ENGLISH IN PERSON & ABROAD
In-person teaching would suit someone who wants to move abroad. It’s also great for people who are living abroad and want a new opportunity.
How can I find a TEFL job abroad?
There are many different ways to find teaching jobs abroad. I was already living in Italy so I did a Google search for bilingual schools in Milan and then sent them my cover letter and CV / resumé. I interviewed at a few places, one offered me a position and I took that. In the beginning I worked one-on-one with some kids who were a little behind and then I hopped into a post as a kindergarten teacher at the school.
Another way to find a TEFL job abroad is to go onto i-to-i TEFL’s jobs board which has got jobs opportunities in loads of different places. Some countries also use agencies to find teachers, so that’s another option to look at.
What are the requirements for teaching English in person abroad?
Every country has different requirements for teaching English in person. Some require degrees and TEFL certificates, others just require a TEFL certificate. You can definitely be a TEFL teacher without a degree – I’m an example of that. I live in Italy and I worked at a private school where I did not need a degree.
The visa application process is also different for each country. For Italy, you need to find a work visa through your job or have the right to work in the EU. I have friends who teach in Japan, South Korea and China and their schools sponsored them for a work visa from their home country. Everything depends on the country. i-to-i has an Instagram reel that explains what qualifications you need for different countries.
What should I include in my cover letter for a TEFL job abroad?
In your cover letter, explain who you are, why you want to be an English teacher, your experience with children and why you think you’d be a good fit for the school.
It’s really important to show your passion and say why you’re applying to that school. I applied to multiple schools but I did my research on each one. For one school, I said, ‘I love the fact that you have cooking classes after school and the opportunities you’re giving the children. I would like to be your English teacher, so I can give them more opportunities.’ Another school had lots of activities outside their school to build a strong community, so that’s what I said in my cover letter.
If you’ve got no direct teaching experience, talk about your other relevant experience. When I applied for my first TEFL job, I said I’d been an au pair, I did babysitting, I was a private tutor and I was a camp counsellor. It might not be teaching but those roles showed the school that I have experience with kids.
(Want more cover letter tips? Check out this guide.)
What is typical day as an in-person TEFL teacher?
Your experience as an in-person teacher will depend on what country you’re teaching in. I was the sole teacher of my classroom in Italy. In other countries, you might be the teacher’s assistant and have a native language teacher with you.
In a typical day at the kindergarten where I taught, the kids had time to play as everyone came in. We then had circle time where I would read and discuss a book. We’d talk about how the book made us feel, what they remembered from the book and what pictures they saw. After circle time, we would go to the classroom seats and do a quick video and a project. I also did a lot of phonics teaching.
Every week we had a different theme. One week it might be around the world: our book would be about around the world, our video would be about around the world and we would have a project about around the world, such as different traditional clothing.
What teaching materials do I need to teach English in person?
I normally use workbooks, videos, books and online resources when I’m teaching English in person. Some schools have a curriculum they want you to follow or a book that you can create lesson plans around. Others give you more freedom.
If you need to create your own resources, there are websites such as Teachers Pay Teachers where you can buy lesson plans. i-to-i also offers resource packs with lesson plans and materials that you can use.
What are typical hours, pay, and students for teaching English abroad?
Your hours, pay, and students will depend on where you work. For example, in a language centre, you might teach children and adults but if you work at a bilingual school, you’ll have school-age students.
I worked 45 hours a week and made around 1,300 Euros a month at a bilingual school. Some people work less than that and some places will pay a higher or lower salary.
What are the pros and cons of in-person teaching?
A big benefit of teaching in person is the contact with your students and your colleagues. I’m from the US and, when I taught at a private school, all my co-workers were Italian or from the UK, South Africa, or Ireland.
The downside of working at a school is that you only have a day or two to travel each week, whereas you have a bit more flexibility if you’re teaching online. When I was teaching in person, I worked Monday to Friday. I’d take the 5am flight out on Saturday morning and then arrive back to Milan on Monday morning and start working instantly
TEACHING ENGLISH ONLINE
Online teaching is great for people who want to travel, it’s great for stay-at-home mums and dads who only have a certain amount of time to work in-between taking care of their children and it’s great for people who don’t know their next steps, or where they want to live.
What qualifications and experience do you need to teach English online?
Some online TEFL companies ask for a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL qualification but for others you just need a TEFL qualification. I work for PalFish and Cambly and all I needed was a TEFL certificate to get started.
TEFL courses and qualifications do put you above other teachers and give you more credibility. If you want to go more in-depth with your learning, or you want to have a qualification comparable to a CELTA, then a Level 5 Advanced TEFL Diploma is the most suitable.
You don’t always need experience for online TEFL companies because they teach you what they’re looking for. However, if you don’t have any teaching experience, it’s great to include things that show you have a good connection with humans, like camp counsellor, teacher’s assistant, scout leader or volunteering.
What is the application process for online TEFL jobs?
A lot of online TEFL companies don’t ask for a traditional CV. You’re more likely go onto an app or their website to create a profile and intro video and then do a demo class.
In your introduction video, you should introduce yourself, talk about your experience and your hobbies and say you want to learn about your students and their home country – people like talking about themselves! With introduction videos, it’s also important to balance professionalism with who you are as a human. I get sent so many video intros that are very professional but are really stern – they seem to be looking right through you and talking very stiffly! That can make students uncomfortable and can also mean you get matched to the wrong students. Show who you are in your introduction video.
What you wear for an intro video or demo class depends on the company – you want to follow a company’s dress code. If you show up to a fun, super-animated website wearing a shirt and tie, you might look a little off but if you’re applying to teach business adults, then it’s good to look smart. I highly recommend going on YouTube and reviewing videos for the company you’re applying to (eg type in ‘PalFish demo class’) so you can see what they’re looking for.
How will I know what to teach in my online classes?
Your first lesson is always going to be nerve-wracking but try not to get nervous. With PalFish, I have 25-minute classes that are all pre-made. I don’t have to plan lessons or think of curriculums. I log on, the lesson is there and I teach. Cambly is 30 minutes but it’s the same thing: all pre-made lesson plans. I log in, click, teach it.
I recommend starting with the online platforms because they build your confidence. You know what you have to teach because it’s right in front of you. Once you’ve had that experience, you can see how to adapt a lesson plan for a different student and topic.
Do you need I need to teach a minimum number of hours or at weekends?
Some companies do require you to teach a minimum of hours per week but for many you don’t. When I started on PalFish, I worked seven days a week, then I dropped down to six days a week and now I’ve dropped down to three days a week because I’m working for another company as well. I’m off from PalFish on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I pick when I work.
How much can I earn as an online TEFL teacher?
As an online TEFL teacher, your pay depends on which company you work for. For a lot of companies, it starts at around $12 an hour and you can make your way up to around $24 to $25. If you’re a freelancer, you can usually set your own price. When you get paid also depends on the company. For example, on Cambly I’m paid weekly and on PalFish I’m paid monthly.
Bear in mind that you get paid per class not per hour – and your lessons might last 25 or 30 or 45 minutes. For example, in one hour, I might only have one class of 30 minutes. To earn the $12 to $24 for that hour I would need to be booked for two lessons.
Your pay can also change between months as it’s up to you how much you work. There have been months where I’ve made $3,700 and others when I didn’t work so much and only earnt $1,000 or less.
Is it better to work for one company or multiple online TEFL companies?
Everyone always says don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Working for two companies can be good, as you’ve got a second company if something happens with one.
However, I gave my all to PalFish when I started out and I believe that’s why I was so successful in such a short amount of time. I always had availability for classes and I really put myself out there. You don’t want to have to say you can’t teach a class on one platform because you’ve got a class on another. You also need to think about things like whether you need to change your clothes or your workspace or your background.
Is PalFish hiring teachers at the moment?
PalFish had a hiring freeze while they figured out the new regulations in China but have now started to hire teachers again.
If you’re planning to work for an online teaching company in China, it’s great to get in now so you can get teaching experience for your CV. However, bear in mind that we don’t yet know if companies such as PalFish have changed their packages to fit in with the new rules or if they’ll be closing down in the future.
What are the pros and cons of teaching English online?
With online TEFL, you can teach children, adults or teenagers, depending on what platform you work for and you can set your own pay and schedule.
Online teaching is great for people that want to travel or who want to only teach certain hours from home. I teach on my iPad. I can fold it up, put it in my backpack and go to any place I want. I just got back from a four-month holiday. If I was teaching in person, that wouldn’t be possible.
The main downside of teaching online is that you’re not physically face-to-face with your students. However, I still have great connections with my families online. I loved teaching in person but I know I’ll teach online forever. I want to get up and go when I want.
Private tutoring is great for people who wants to make extra money on the side. You can tutor full time but, a lot of time, students will only want lessons in the evenings and weekends. I coupled my private tutoring with teaching at a school and loved it.
How do I know what to teach private students?
A lot of people get nervous about private tutoring because you have to understand what your student wants to learn and plans lessons from scratch.
When someone reaches out to me, I do a 15-minute trial class. In this class, I talk with the student, I ask them to read something, to listen to something and to try to put a sentence together. I can then see their strengths and weaknesses and understand what I need to focus on.
You can find books and teaching materials online for free and you can buy materials on sites such as on Twinkl, Teachers Pay Teachers, and Engoo. You can also reach out to other teachers that you know and share ideas.
What should I teach in a private English lesson?
My elementary school students usually have a workbook from school. I’ll use this to see what they’re learning with their teacher that week and then go over it in more depth. I’ll structure the lesson so I’ve got a warmer and production, presentation and practice segments to ensure it’s well rounded.
With my high school students, I re-explain what they’ve learnt in class and go into a bit more detail. We’ll then often do their homework together. For some, I’ll also do presentation practice or test prep.
For my adults, I ask them what they want to learn and find out if they want to do conversational English or grammar. I might play a clip and ask them what they can tell me about what they’ve just heard.
If it’s a younger child, I’ll teach them through play, for example, by playing trains, baking, arts and crafts or singing songs.
How much can I earn as a private English tutor?
How much you earn as a private English tutor depends on the country you’re living in. For example, in Italy the average pay is 8 to 10 Euros. When you’re starting off, you might charge less and then increase your price as your experience grows.
I now have a set amount I want to make per hour. If that’s not possible for a family, instead of saying, ‘No,’ I suggest having two students in a class so the cost is split in half. You need to be flexible about your pricing.
How long does it take to get a TEFL job?
How long it takes you to get a TEFL job depends on how much effort you put in and how motivated you are. Are you sending out CVs every day? Are you booking interviews? Have you practised your demos? Have you written out all your basic information?
I applied for my in-person job in late August and I started in September. For online teaching, I was hired by PalFish within a week and in two days by Cambly for their adults’ programme and one week for the children’s programme. With private tutoring, I had 13 students within my first week.
GO FOR IT!
Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a degree or you don’t have teaching experience or you’re scared put you off starting your TEFL journey.
I started TEFL when I was 21 and had no teaching experience. I’m now on year three and have no plans to stop. I’ve had a great in-person teaching job, fantastic online teaching roles with three different companies where I’m making a lot of money and I also got 13 students within one week of starting as a private tutor. I’m able to use my TEFL for a million different jobs. You have so many options.
If you’re on the fence, I highly, highly recommend putting your fears behind you and starting your TEFL course today. You truly are the only one stopping yourself.
FIND OUT MORE
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Want to hear more from Audrey? Follow her Instagram account @travelrichmoneypoor