As teachers who are native English speakers it seemed logical to look to combining travel with TEFL. However, just because it seemed like an obvious first step doesn’t mean it was an easy step to take. Also, if you aren’t a teacher then please don’t think there is nothing for you in this post, as there are no requirements to have previous teaching experience when signing up to a TEFL course.
Why did we choose TEFL?
TEFL can be done anywhere (even in English speaking countries!) and with an estimated 2 billion students of English Language by 2050 there is currently a shortage of TEFL teachers. TEFL allows you to gain a new skill or vocation whilst travelling, gives you a chance to live in another country and can open up an opportunity to work within a completely different culture. TEFL may even be the answer to prolonging your travel dreams, allowing you to work in exchange for accommodation (& other perks), keeping travel affordable and sustainable. With jobs and internships available, lastly between 2 months and 2 years, in a range of locations and to teach students between 1 year and 101 years of age – there really does seem to be something for everyone.
We are starting our TEFL experience by training with i-to-i TEFL who work with a company called Immerqi. This company offer China based internships for a 4.5 month period from February 2015 to July 2015.
Getting started: Where did we find out more information?
We never intended on going down the TEFL pathway as we were originally looking at a RTW trip incorporating elements of volunteering. We realised that many of the opportunities we were interested in, involved working with children. It seemed that we would be paying out to do what we do everyday – work with young people. It’s not that we didn’t want to volunteer – it’s just that the prices meant we wouldn’t be able to do it for very long. That’s when we came across TEFL – alongside many of the volunteering opportunities we were already looking at. A quick Google search located a range of companies offering packages including LoveTEFL, i-to-i TEFL, International TEFL Academy and many more. Here we could do courses, apply for internships, combine work and travel or just find jobs.
We spent a long time comparing the companies and the opportunities being offered in a range of countries in SE Asia, China, S America, S Africa and many more. We watched videos of those telling us the experience had changed their lives and read reviews warning us of getting involved in what was clearly a scam.
We were unsure, worried and confused. However, the scientists in us persevered with the research. We started to look at who were posting the reviews and when they were written. We used the British Council website to distinguish between the different courses on offer and eventually came to our conclusions. None of the TEFL courses we looked at offered accreditation through bodies we had dealt with as there is no overarching organisation. However, i-to-i TEFL (along with some other big names in TEFL courses & jobs) were accredited by the ODLQC (Open & Distance Learning Quality Council) which after a fair bit of research seemed to be a credible organisation.
I suppose our main piece of advice is that although there are cheap TEFL courses that promise a world of opportunities it is always worth doing your research. If, like us, you’d like to do this for longer than a one-off then it is worth paying a little extra to go with a worldwide company that can support you before, during and after your placement.
Furthermore, we opted for an internship as we didn’t have the time to organise the placement, accommodation and other necessities – not with being full time teachers. However, we hope to plan this ourselves next time using one of the many TEFL job boards that exist. It may be that an internship is not for you but there are many other options available including finding your own job and accommodation, combining teaching and travel in a package style trip or just having a few weeks experience of what TEFL is like in more of a volunteering placement.
Continue to follow our TEFL journey by visiting this website from time to time to read our new posts. You can also watch our video updates by subscribing to either our YouTube channel or if you would like more information on TEFL courses in general then view the i-to-i TEFL YouTube Channel.