Part I: Getting Started in TEFL
Finding your level
In the world of TEFL there are four or five levels of ‘teacher’. Deciding whether you want to earn enough to keep you in beer money whilst on your travels or whether you’re looking for a long-term career helps you decide what kind of training is appropriate.
The various types of native and proficient speakers of English working fit into these categories:
✓ The opportunist who has no training in EFL or any other teaching qualifications but needs to find work.
✓ The teacher who has a basic level of training amounting to 20 hours or fewer. He’s been introduced to the overall principles of TEFL. ✓ The TEFL initiated teacher who has completed a certificate level TEFL course of about 100 hours.
✓ The teacher qualified in another subject who needs to learn the principles of teaching EFL. At this same level are people who have studied the English language extensively, perhaps having a degree in English literature or linguistics, but who have no experience of teaching.
✓ The TEFL qualified teacher who has a diploma or master’s-level qualification in EFL.
Don’t underestimate the responsibility teachers have. Once you’re facing 20 eager students who’ve parted with their hard-earned cash hoping that you can change their lives, it’s a little late for regrets.
Get some training or do your own research but never walk into a classroom completely unprepared. A little training is better than none at all. Being an unqualified teacher
Most language schools belong to professional bodies, which set criteria for teaching staff so that there’s a level of quality control. This means that usually you can’t find paid work in an English-speaking country without a wellrecognised teaching qualification. However, there are exceptions to this if the school runs its own training programmes for would-be teachers. Charitable and state-run organisations with volunteer programmes sometimes welcome people willing to share their knowledge with others and you get some teaching experience in return.
Chapter 3: Examining Courses, Qualifications and Jobs 33
If a school trains staff to use its own teaching methods, you’ve a better chance of finding work with them without a teaching qualification. Big chains like Callan and Berlitz employ staff in this way, depending on the location. On the other hand, if you’re travelling to a part of the world where there are few native English speakers in residence, but the locals have some disposable income, you’re more likely to be viewed as a great catch by schools and individual students looking for a tutor, despite your lack of qualifications and experience. Being a native speaker can be your USP (unique selling point), but try not to be complacent.
Many EFL teachers have no training whatsoever but still manage to find work and develop their skills while in the job. If you won’t be relying on an income from teaching and are unlikely to spend more than a few months in one place, a short taster course is probably all you need. Various organisations offer weekend and short courses in TEFL that give you a taste of what is involved in the job and help you decide whether teaching is for you on a long-term basis. In the UK, for example, Berlitz (www.berlitz.com) won’t employ a teacher who doesn’t have a degree and teaching certificate. However, if you apply to one of their schools abroad, you may have the chance to prove yourself on their unpaid training course which lasts one to two weeks.
Unfortunately, employers don’t view all native speakers as equal. UK, Australian and other accents from economically strong nations are viewed as high status and are more sought after. Students tend to mimic the pronunciation of their teachers and many have distinct preferences about the accent they want to acquire. Countries that use English as just one of their national languages often bring influences from the other language (or languages) into the pronunciation, grammar and...
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