New to TEFL? How to get teaching experience
There are many different types of people who undertake TEFL courses. Some already have some experience teaching English under their belt and want to upskill. Some are completely new to TEFL having just finished studying or wanting to make a career change. No matter what category you fit into, there is work for everyone.
Starting out can be daunting. It’s the age old dilemma where you might need some experience to get a job but without them giving you a job, you can’t get experience! There are many ways you can make your start in TEFL. All you need is your first chance and then your experience will mount up from there.
If you are struggling to get a job teaching English after finishing your TEFL course, then you might want to consider some other options. These can help you build up your CV which will make you look more employable to potential schools and companies. Employers will also be impressed if you have experience teaching in different TEFL contexts, such as the ones below.
Volunteering to teach English (both in the classroom and online) is a great way for you to get some experience. Not only does it look great on your CV, but you’re also using your newly acquired skills to help others. Volunteering can have a big impact on the lives of others and also, on your life too. You might learn about new cultures and contexts that you never considered before and see the world in a new way.
Most volunteering jobs only require a few hours a week so you can fit this in quite easily around other commitments you have. There is normally a three-month minimum requirement but after this, you can commit for as long as you like. Volunteering can help you clock up the hours teaching and also show potential employees that you’re willing to dedicate time to helping others.
If you want to give more time, you might find a classroom volunteering experience where you teach more hours. These might also be in different countries. There is often a need for teaching to go to refugee camps and spend a month teaching classes there.
Volunteering online might not be the easiest teaching context as you will likely deal with a lot of technical problems. A lot of students who take part in these lessons do not have their own laptops so they may use their phones. Depending on where they are in the world, they might have unstable internet connections. However, with patience and troubleshooting, volunteering to teach English online can be very rewarding and a good way to get started.
In general, Europe is the place to be for summer camps. There are many options across the continent that run for any number of weeks between June and September. Summer camp work is often more demanding as you will normally be asked to help out with other duties too. These can include arranging and taking part in afternoon (think Arts and Crafts) and evening (discos, games) activities.
Summer camps can be an intense work environment but they are a good way to get some experience. A lot of summer camps will hire newly-qualified teachers so you just need your CV and to impress at the interview. The work hours might be long but you will also get the opportunity to get to know a new place (probably a new country) and make some TEFL-minded lifelong friends!
To get a summer job, attitude and personality are key more than experience. You need to show you are willing to work hard, make the most of the experience and be lively! You need to show the employer you are someone who the students will want to spend time with and learn from. Summer camp teachers should be enthusiastic and want their students to have the best summer experience.
10-hour Teaching Methodology Course
If you feel nervous about taking your first steps into the classroom, then the 10-hour Virtual Teaching course with the TEFL Institute of Ireland can help you calm your nerves. The course takes place over two days online and there are many dates to choose from. The course is the perfect accompaniment to your online TEFL course.
During your 10 hours with one of our qualified trainers, you will learn and implement practical techniques as you would in the classroom. You will also be able to ask any questions you have about teaching TEFL and meet some other TEFL teachers in training. It’s a great way for you to see how the theoretical joins with the practical and have a go at teaching for yourself.
After completing the 10-hour course, you will feel more confident and ready to approach the classroom. It’s also another thing to add to your CV that shows you are actively professionally developing and have an increased knowledge of how teaching works in the classroom and online.
Check it out here: https://tefl.ie/course/virtual-tefl-course/
Undertaking an internship is a nice transition into TEFL and it’s a good option if you feel nervous about starting out alone in a new country. Internships often accept candidates who have just finished or are even mid-way through their training. Some internships also provide TEFL training. Our internships also provide guidance, visa assistance and an orientation to help get settled in.
If you’re interested in an internship with the TEFL Institute of Ireland, check them out here! There are a range of countries available. Be sure to check the requirements to see if you fit the profile and if you’re not sure, enquire about it! You may even end up heading somewhere that you hadn’t previously considered!
Once you complete an internship, you will have experience to put on your CV and then you might feel more confident to go it alone next time you venture off. There is a lot of support available to you to make your experience go as smoothly as possible!
Dedicate the time to your CV and cover letter
Even if you have years’ of experience teaching and have studied every TEFL course out there, it means nothing if your application isn’t strong. Take the time to ensure that you have the best CV and cover letter possible to really show your profile off to your potential employer.
It may be disheartening to write a CV if you have no teaching experience but a lot of skills are transferable. Have you worked in customer service? Then you know how to deal with people (aka students). Have you worked in a HR department? Then you know how to be organised. No matter what your previous job or jobs might have been, there is always something that can be related back to teaching. Sell yourself as a TEFL teacher and show the employer that you already possess the perfect skills for the job.
Always ensure you write a personalised cover letter for any job you apply for. All too often, candidates send a generic cover letter and often it doesn’t even mention the company or anything specific to the job. This is a big red flag for employers who think that you don’t want to put any effort in, and that you won’t put any effort into the job itself. You will, of course, repeat certain things about yourself but always make sure you tailor the cover letter to the company you are applying for.
Remember, job applications are about showing a potential employer that you are right for the job. As long as you can do this in a convincing way, then the experience often doesn’t matter. Someone who is keen to learn will be more valuable than someone with more experience but isn’t as dedicated to the role. Show that you are willing to learn on the job and work hard for them, then there’s a good chance you will be considered!
Consider online teaching
There are a lot of online teaching companies out there who recruit on a regular basis. A lot of companies require little to no experience so this is a good way to enter into TEFL. Even if you’re aiming to teach in a classroom, you can build up your experience by teaching online for a while. It’s also a good way to earn a supplementary income if you don’t have a full-time TEFL job yet.
If you don’t have experience and want to consider getting a job teaching online, you might want to be more flexible concerning your working hours. Depending on the target market and your location, it might be that the more popular working times are evenings and weekends. If you are willing to work during these hours for a short period of time, you can gain a lot of experience. It might only be for a few months and then you will have clocked up enough hours to have more choice of companies or classrooms to work in.
Remember to get an online teaching job, you need to have the right set-up. Make sure you have:
- A quiet space with a professional background
- A good laptop with a good camera and headset
- Fast and reliable internet
These things will be half the battle when looking for online teaching jobs. If you attend an interview and your camera is rubbish, then the company will be less likely to hire you. During the interview, show the potential employer what your work environment would look like, including you! Make sure you look presentable and dress appropriately. Some companies have a more formal dress code so look this up before you have your interview.
The important thing about any sort of job hunting is to keep going. There are never too few applications that you can fill out. It may be time-consuming but to get results, you have to put the time and effort in. To gain experience if you don’t have any, consider alternative options. These can be short-term to start building up your teaching hours and then you can find something more permanent. All it takes is a foot in the door of the TEFL world and then the opportunities are endless!