As a former EFL teacher in Thailand, I had two years teaching experience with young children before I even moved to Bangkok to teach. Tens of thousands of people who decide to teach overseas every year, however, don’t have that kind of experience, if any, so worry about getting a job overseas. Then, they worry again when they are offered a teaching job, scared they won’t be able to handle teaching in an actual EFL classroom..
Luckily, there are ways to get EFL teaching experience before you move overseas for a full-time teaching job. Here are just a few of them.
Volunteer at a local non-profit or community college – Community colleges and non-profits all over the United States and Europe offer English classes for new immigrants to the country, and these can be an excellent way for you to get some teaching experience.
Contact local non-profits or community colleges and ask if you can volunteer to teach English for a few hours every week. They may let you teach either alone or as an assistant to another teacher, but you’ll learn what it’s actually like being in a classroom with students whose first language is not English.
Look for private students – One of my closest friends, who now teaches in Thailand, had six months from when she completed her TEFL training to when she was able to leave for Bangkok, yet didn’t want to lose the teaching skills she had learned on the TEFL course due to lack of use.
She advertised for private students in Washington DC, her hometown, and offered her services at a reduced rate due to her lack of experience. She ended up with so many private students wanting to learn English, she had oodles of confidence by the time she started teaching full-time in Bangkok.
Getting experience teaching private students also helped her understand how difficult it can be for new learners taking English classes, and gave her some great ideas for how to help make it easier for the children she would be teaching in Thailand.
Sign up for a TEFL course – If you haven’t already taken a TEFL course, one of the best ways to get some teaching experience and feedback on your teaching skills is to sign up for a 120-hour TEFL course. They usually take 4-6 weeks to complete in a classroom setting and, during that time, you’ll learn a lot of practical information about teaching EFL overseas.
If the course is reputable,you should get at least 10 hours of observed teaching practice and feedback from an instructor, which will go a long way to improving your teaching skills.
What’s even more useful about a TEFL course is that you’ll also be able to watch other first-time teachers teaching, and learn from them what to do and what not to do in an EFL classroom.
Of course, it’s not just getting teaching experience that’s a good reason for taking a TEFL course. Being TEFL certified will also help you in your job hunt, and with obtaining higher salaries. All excellent reasons to sign up for one.