Undoubtedly, one of the biggest concerns of many of our customers is whether or not they could potentially teach abroad without prior TEFL experience.
The short answer is yes.
It’s totally feasible to launch your TEFL job hunt without any experience whatsoever. However, it can make it a little more difficult. This is especially true as many of the world’s largest TEFL industries become increasingly standardized, asking its applicants to have more and more in terms of qualifications.
How Can I Teach Without Experience?
There are several main points you should consider when searching for teaching positions and they are: location, your qualifications and skills, and any non-teaching experience which may come in handy.
Positions which don’t require any experience are possible to find no matter where in the world you are. Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa – all have schools and employers who don’t really care and are more concerned with your personality, passions, and qualifications. Despite that, certain areas will be generally more relaxed about teaching experience than others.
Latin America is your safest bet when it comes to a lack of experience. Many of the countries’ TEFL industries, while prosperous, are still developing somewhat and so it’s easier to find jobs with little in the way of experience/qualifications. Make an exception for the likes of Chile, Brazil, and Argentina – their economies are stronger and standards, on the whole, are higher than the rest.
Depending on where and what type of job you apply to, you should be able to find positions across Europe. Spain is an especially popular place to teach, not just because of its lovely climate, food, and people, but also due to the massive demand for TEFL there. Thanks to the need for teachers, schools tend to have lower standards than other parts of Europe. However, some countries, such as Germany, do put an emphasis on experience especially if you’re looking to teach Business English. Overall, Europe is divided on the importance it places on experience – as a general rule, slightly less developed economies will be more lenient than wealthier nations.
As the largest continent, it would be wrong to generalize the whole region in one paragraph. However, the biggest TEFL industries in the world (China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand) all require a degree – or at the very least, it would be difficult to find work without one. Southeast Asia is your best bet if you want to land a job without much experience. Countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam have thriving TEFL markets and are fantastic places to live and work in.
Like experience, qualifications are becoming increasingly important in TEFL. Unlike experience, they’re a lot easier to gain. One of the best qualifications you can have in TEFL is, maybe unsurprisingly, a good TEFL certificate. Possessing a 120-hour certificate will open up many a school’s doors to you.
It’s always a good idea to go one step further to boost your chances of employment. One way of doing that would be to gain a specialized TEFL qualification, one which focuses on a particular area such as Business English, or teaching children.
Another great qualification to have – and one which is significantly more difficult to actually acquire – is a bachelor’s degree. The reason – other than being attractive to employers – is that there are quite a few countries whose governments state a degree is needed if you want a work permit to teach legally. This is obviously very frustrating for those without a degree. It’s not unheard of to ‘work under the table’ but this is really not encouraged as you face the prospect of deportation. A degree, combined with an accredited TEFL certificate, will make you eligible for the majority of jobs out there.
Experience in Related Non-Teaching Roles
Whilst you may not have a past in teaching, there are still plenty of other relevant experiences suitable to the role of TEFL. For example, working with children in any situation whether it’s babysitting, assisting teachers, nannying, being a group leader, even being the looking after a much younger sibling. Obviously, this is really only useful when applying to teach younger learners. Volunteering, or even working, abroad is another fantastic CV-booster which will impress any TEFL employer. It shows you have a definite interest in other cultures and traveling, rather than thinking you do. Additionally, it conveys you understand the difficulties faced by anyone who settles to migrate overseas. A benefit of having experiences that encompass a wide range of fields is that it proves you have a wide array of skills, implying versatility and adaptiveness.
Looking to start a career in TEFL? Then there’s no better way than to complete an accredited TEFL course and earn a certificate.