Can I still do TESOL if English isn’t my first language?

If English isn’t your first language, the great news is that you still can do TESOL. You may even find it makes you a better TESOL teacher, as you’ll be able to draw on your own experience of learning English as a foreign language.

We must warn you however that you’ll need to work harder to find a TESOL job if English isn’t your first language. Unfair as it may seem, a lot of TESOL employers advertise for “native English speakers only”. On top of that, countries including Saudi Arabia, South Korea and China tend to only issue TESOL work permits to passport holders from native English speaking countries.

However, if you’re a fluent English speaker with a recognised TESOL qualification then you CAN do TESOL – particularly if you’re flexible about where you work.

To increase your chances of landing that all important first TESOL job, try:

  • Focussing your search on countries where there’s less emphasis on teachers speaking English as their first language. Cambodia, Chile and Costa Rica are all brilliant options
  • Building up your CV as much as you can. Being able to speak the local language or offering specialist TESOL skills such as Business English on top of your core TESOL certificate can really help your application stand out
  • Starting with a TESOL internship. It’s a great way to make contacts and to prove to employers that you really can teach English
  • Sending in a short film with your resume to showcase your fantastic English language skills.

But most of all, don’t give up. You may well get a few knock backs along the way but always remember that you can do TESOL even if English is not your first language.

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