Finding TEFL work out of high school

In a recent email message, a Vagabonding reader from Wisconsin named Briana writes:

I am a recent high school graduate and have decided to delay going to college for a year in order to travel. I got a copy of your book as a graduation gift and have been busy planning and working ever since.

I’m very interested in the idea of teaching English abroad, but I see one major problem: my age. You mentioned getting certified before going to teach English abroad. As I haven’t even started college, that’s obviously not an option for me. However, I can’t help but wonder if there is a more informal approach to getting English-teaching jobs — perhaps not at a school but with a family? Do you know whether or not it’s possible for teenagers to acquire these sorts of jobs or should I simply try for the usual “grunt work” we “unskilled” workers end up doing? And if it is possible, do you recommend some countries over others?

This is a very interesting and apt question; I answered Briana as follows:

You are indeed correct in assuming that formal English teaching work is difficult to acquire without a college degree. But you are also correct in assuming that there are many ways around this. From volunteering with
individual classes, to formally teaching in smaller villages with less stringent hiring standards, to tutoring “under the table” in places like Korea and Japan, you still have lots of options.

Before you head off to teach English, however, I’d recommend getting some training first. You actually don’t need this training, technically, but having some training and strategies for tutoring English or teaching it in the classroom will make your job a lots easier and more enjoyable.

Thus, if your lack of college prohibits you from getting certified to teach ESL/EFL, you might look around for ESL teaching programs in your community. There, you can volunteer and assist in class and pick up teaching techniques that way. You can also volunteer with exchange students in your community — they usually just want someone with whom to practice their spoken English, and these simple conversations can teach you a lot about the needs of English students.

Training aside, one way to find English teaching work is to just go out and start traveling and meeting people. Invariably, if you keep your eyes open, you will stumble into a teaching opportunity. The best world regions for these kinds of opportunities are Central and South America, China, and Southeast Asia. There is a need for this kind of work in Eastern and Western Europe as well, but the competition is stronger, as lots of college grads (and British English speakers) seek work in this part of the world.

Posted by | Comments Off on Finding TEFL work out of high school  | October 18, 2006
Category: Vagabonding Advice

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