Teaching English, like writing, is one of those occupations that people consider a fall-back option. In countries where English is not a native language, there is great demand for good English teachers.
In places like these, it’s quite common to hear unemployed graduates, new retirees or unhappy office workers saying, “Well, I could always teach English…”, but is proficiency in English all it takes to be a good ESL instructor? Hardly.
If you’re considering a career in teaching English, there are a number of issues to consider before you take the plunge.
Before quitting your current job for an ELT career, have a long hard look at your motivations for wanting to teach English.
English that the only way you can travel? When all is said and done, teaching English is still a job with a supervisor, managers, customers, a job description and performance appraisals. Unless you like the language and dealing with all kinds of people, teaching can quickly become a chore. ELT is a business like any other, and students are clients with complaints and expectations.
Mind Your Language!
Evaluate your language abilities, honestly. Both native speakers and non-native speakers of English have to learn a lot about the language before they can teach it. Native speakers might need to brush up on their knowledge of grammar rules because they use these structures instinctively. Get Teach and Travel ideas, Global Education resources, free travel grants, educational travel programs, teacher vacations, and advice on jobs teaching abroad!
When teaching abroad, native speakers also must learn the differences between UK, US and Australian English. By way of example, an American teacher might tell students that they’ve made a mistake by saying “at the weekend, rather than “on the weekend”, without understanding that the former is correct in British English. With the help of language courses, you’ll learn to speak, write, and listen effectively in major global languages, including English, Chinese, Spanish, and more.
Many of these varieties have differences in grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation which seem like errors to native speakers. Whether you are a native speaker or non native speaker, you have to be ready to continuously work on your language skills in order to develop as an English instructor.
Some people have a natural instinct for teaching. But what can take years to learn instinctively can be learned much more quickly from a good ESL teacher training course.
Schools like these tend to be the best places to work at in terms of facilities, salaries, surroundings and professional development. In other words, investing in a good teacher training course will bring you unlimited returns. Verify the qualifications of the trainers and be sure that there will be actual, observed teaching practice before you pay for a program.