English as a Foreign Language

The profession of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) refers to the instruction of students whose first language is not English and who live in a region where English is not the dominant language.

TEFL instructors are responsible for teaching students basic English skills, such as reading, writing, speaking, listening and pronunciation. They accomplish this using narrative vignettes, dialogues, conversational exercises, projects, tests and other materials. Educational computer programs or interactive websites may also be used as tools to aid students in the language learning process. TEFL teachers are sometimes given the freedom to create their own curriculum, implementing their own teaching methods or borrowing ideas from teachers’ workshops held at the start of each semester. Classes may be specialized in spoken English and conversation particularly. Because TEFL students may not have much exposure to English during the course of their everyday lives, teaching methodology must take that factor into account and accommodate.

As stated earlier, TEFL education occurs only outside of anglophone countries. Abroad, TEFL teachers instruct in a range of settings, including elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, universities and adult education programs. They are employed, usually under contract, by either a public or private school, government initiative or commercial education company, and work anywhere from 12 to 40 hours a week, either during normal class hours or after school.

Qualifications required to become a TEFL teacher vary according to the hiring school or program. CELTA and CertTESOL certifications are generally accepted worldwide, but more liberal organizations may accept teachers without a bachelor’s degree or a teaching certificate.

The salary and benefits of a TEFL teacher also vary according to nation, program and candidate’s experience. Compensation is paid in the national currency and varies according to status of employment (full-time / part-time). Benefits for TEFL positions may include free furnished housing (dormitory, hotel or private lodgings) or adequate housing allowance, free or partially-reimbursed round-trip airfare to and from the host nation, full or partial medical insurance coverage, and bonuses. Schools may also aid candidates in the process of obtaining a work visa. Besides monetary or material compensation, teaching abroad also offers instructors an opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, with some programs even offering teachers free courses in the native arts and language.