If you’ve been thinking about teaching English abroad but don’t yet have a TEFL certification, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can make it work without one! It’s tempting to jump in with both feet before being fully prepared, but thinking you’ll just figure it out along the way might actually set you back. Here are seven reasons why you shouldn’t consider teaching English abroad without certification:
7) Knowing English and Teaching it are Two Different Things
You might think that because you’re a native English speaker, that you’ve totally got this. You earned good grades on your essays in school, you were the English teacher’s pet, and so on. But hear us out: knowing and speaking English is a very different thing than trying to teach it. And though you might pride yourself on perfect grammar, when was the last time you actually picked up a book to verify grammar rules and best practices? It has probably been a while. Getting the proper training helps you demonstrate English the proper and accurate way.
6) Your Future in Teaching English Abroad Will Dim
Showing up in a country of your choosing to “wing it” with the best job you can find will be tough. Having the certification under you belt before you apply is basically an insurance policy in getting a job that values its employees, creates a supportive environment, and takes their teachers and respective experience levels seriously. Let’s also remember that this is about your reputation as a teacher for the rest of your career. Set the bar high to begin with, and watch success become yours!
5)You’ll Become a Burnout
Teaching English is not an easy job. Fun, rewarding, and never without a dull moment, maybe! But it takes dedication and a lot of work. This is something your TEFL certification course prepares you for: the number of hours you’ll likely spend per week lesson planning, how it feels to use your particular skills as a teacher (everyone has their own style!), or what cultural sensitivities are important for you to be aware of. Without laying this foreground, you really have no idea what you’re walking in to, and not having the experience can be really bad in this case! You risk burning out by showing up unprepared, and that’s not fair to your students.
4) You Haven’t Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Would you want to take an English course from an unqualified, burnt out, and unprepared instructor? NO. Think of the disservice you would be doing to a group of students that have invested in this course (with their own or parent’s money) to learn English. You never know how long those students have waited to make this goal a reality, or how badly they need this in order to make ends meet in their culture, possibly dependent on tourism.
3) You’ll Miss Out on the Community and Networking
The benefits of taking a TEFL certification course are plenty. It’s a chance to build your network of fellow teachers, instructors, potential connections for jobs down the line, and so much more. Skipping this essential piece of the puzzle is not worth it. Plus, it’s important to keep in mind that many TEFL certification courses include job placement at the end, and trust us—finding a job overseas is a difficult process, not because there aren’t jobs out there for English teachers, but because when you add visa requirements, language barriers and where you will live on top of it, it can be a lot to handle! Being guided through this process is a lot easier than trying to forge your own path.
2) Higher Paid Options Won’t be Yours
Salary overseas as an English teacher varies widely across particular regions and countries, but we can guarantee that investing in a certification course will improve your chances of a higher salary, no matter where you go! If you’re one to be motivated by a little wiggle room in your pay to spend time traveling, paying off debt, or saving a chunk while abroad, then take the time and energy to earn a certificate before diving in.
1) This Isn’t About You, It’s About Them!
If you haven’t realized it yet, you will find that teaching English abroad to a classroom of students in a culture foreign to your own goes a little bit deeper than just offering instruction. By teaching these students your language, you are giving them an opportunity down the line, whether that’s for a better job because they’ve become bilingual, or because the pool of universities and colleges they can apply to expands. As an English teacher abroad, realizing the gravity of the situation early on, like in a TEFL certification course, only benefits the learning environment you will foster with your students.
Nobody wants to relocate their life to a different country only to be let down because they didn’t adequately prepare beforehand, right? Do the right thing and get certified—for you and for your future students!
Words by Jayla Rae Ardelean.