At i-to-i, we talk to lots of teachers (most notably NQTs, although we do get a fair few seasoned teachers looking for a change!) who are interested in an adventure of a lifetime, teaching English abroad. The benefits when compared with teaching back home are clear; but the two most common questions we get asked are:
1. Can I teach abroad with a PGCE?
2. Do I need a TEFL qualification if I have a PGCE?
Here, we will answer those all-important questions; and inspire you to start your new life teaching overseas!
Can I teach abroad with a PGCE?
A PGCE is a British qualification that enables University graduates to teach in state schools across the country. Whilst having a PGCE will certainly help you towards obtaining teaching positions overseas, it is often not enough to secure you a job alone: although many schools recognise the qualification, others do not. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of TEFL vacancies (with the exception of perhaps volunteering positions), will state a minimum of a 120hour TEFL qualification is required to be eligible for the position.
If you want to teach English as a foreign language, it’s highly recommended that you take a TEFL course. That, combined with your PGCE will put you one step ahead of the competition, making it a lot easier for you to find work overseas!
Do I need a TEFL qualification if I have a PGCE?
Ultimately, the answer is yes. With a PGCE, you’ll already be qualified to teach in the UK; but employers overseas specifically ask for a TEFL qualification so if you don’t have one listed on your CV, they could automatically overlook you.
However, armed with a TEFL qualification and a PGCE, you will have a much better chance of finding work in pretty much anywhere in the world. The more competitive countries like Japan, South Korea and Western Europe (where wages are higher) are looking for qualified teachers with degrees; and you’ll be in the best position to secure these jobs.
If high wages and attractive benefits are what you’re after, then you’re in luck, as you can turn your attention to the Middle East. Positions are notoriously hard to land here – and really, why shouldn’t they be: we’re talking monthly tax-free salaries of $3,000 upwards (approximately £2,000), free luxury accommodation and free flights back home! To secure one of these exclusive jobs, you’ll need experience to add to that qualification. So get TEFL-qualified and work for a year overseas; then couple that with your PGCE and you’ll be a highly desirable candidate for a TEFL job in the Middle East!
One more question you may have is: can I teach in an international school with just a PGCE? Theoretically, yes: students at these schools will be fluent in English – either speaking it as their first language or being bilingual. In fact, you won’t be required to teach English as a foreign language, you’ll be picking up the usual teaching subjects instead. However, these positions often require candidates to have teaching experience, which is something many NQTs don’t have; and this is where a TEFL qualification comes in use. Much like Middle Eastern jobs, if you can get TEFL-qualified and gain a year’s experience teaching overseas, you’ll stand yourself a much better chance of securing a position in an international school. And with high salaries and long holidays, these vacancies are certainly nothing to be sniffed at!
We have lots of NQTs and experienced teachers signing up to TEFL with us; Claire and Anthony being two of them. They quit their jobs as physics teachers at a high school to embark on the China internship. Placed in Wuxi, they vlogged their experience for us, stating “during our time here in Wuxi, we’ve learned so much about education, Chinese culture and ourselves”. With the internship now over, Claire and Anthony are continuing their round the world adventure, volunteering in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
So ultimately, if you want to teach abroad, a TEFL certificate is a wise move, even if you do have a PGCE. Armed with these two qualifications, you’ll be head and shoulders above competitors, making it much easier to secure a position. In addition to all of the amazing travelling you’ll get to enjoy, you’ll also gain so much useful experience whilst TEFLing. Whether you decide to eventually move back home and continue your teaching career there; or teach overseas long term, the experience you’ll have on your CV from your time TEFLing will be invaluable – as will the memories you’ll have made!