Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a popular gap year option and volunteering as a teacher is a great way to gain classroom experience first-hand.
If you’re thinking about teaching as a career, TEFL is the perfect starting point; you can make a career in TEFL as itself! Also, it’s one of the best ways to further fund your gap year. Travel, teach, travel, teach… easy!
There are all sorts of ways to volunteer as a teacher and there are huge benefits to the students. Often, learning English is one of the best routes out of poverty for kids in many parts of the world and even learning a few words can help them later on in life. So, if you think you’ve got what it takes to TEFL then jump in at the deep end – it’s not something you’ll forget!
Reasons to TEFL
There are all sorts of reasons why TEFL is an awesome thing to do. Here are just a few of the main ones:
To make money
If you are going to teach English as a foreign language in a second or third world country, you will be paid very handsomely in comparison to the national average wage of that particular country. English teachers are highly sought after and this is reflected in the pay. Your living costs will be minimal, meaning you can easily save money to further fund your travels and supplement your budget.
To boost your career
If you would like to pursue a career in teaching then TEFL can serve as a brilliant introduction. Many schools don’t require a formal TEFL qualification, meaning you have nothing to lose if you just want to give it a crack. You’ll experience what it is like to stand in a classroom in front of a load of kids and really get a feel for whether you enjoy it or not. If you do, having experience of TEFL on your CV will look fantastic and give you a leg up over the competition back home.
To help others
English is a route out of poverty for many people all over the world, particularly children. Even if you just teach them the basics, they will have something to go on and the drive to improve further. If people can speak English – aka the world’s language – they will find it much easier to find jobs as tour guides and such like.
To experience a country
You will get to experience a country and all its customs fully if you work there for a little while. It’s all well and good trotting around the tourist sites taking pictures, but nothing can absorb you into local communities in the way that working in them can. You’ll see a whole different side than most people see to a country, giving you ultimately a more rewarding experience.
One of the best things about TEFL is that it can be done all over the world, even in English-speaking countries, including the UK! Wherever there are people who need to learn English there is opportunity to TEFL.
Having said that, some countries are more popular options than others, either because of wages or the opportunities they offer for further travel, so we’ve plucked out the top five for you here.
Thailand is a hugely popular place to TEFL. The industry is very well-established in the country, meaning you can find work easily. You can choose between teaching in urban areas, like the awesome Bangkok, or more rural areas, like the rustic villages outside of Chiang Mai in the north.
Japan offers a kind of mix between China and Thailand, and is probably the place we’d recommend most, simply because it’s more challenging than Thailand but not quite as daunting as China. It is a beautiful country and the people are so friendly. You’ll have a blast!
China is a challenging but ultimately very rewarding place to TEFL. Unlike Thailand, English is not widely spoken in China at all, meaning you’ll often have to start from scratch. You’ll probably find yourself picking up plenty of the Chinese language as you go, which another great thing to put on the CV!
Argentina is an awesome place to TEFL and the country has so many exciting things on offer for when you decide to start travelling again. The national language is Spanish, so you may have already learnt a few phrases in school, which’ll come in handy!