how TEFL changed my life


i never thought that i would feel supremely confident that i could hold down a job in many different countries on any continent, especially with the economy still in recovery. having a TEFL certificate gives me this freedom.
i decided it was time to stop struggling to pay rent in expensive seattle and see the world while working– something that has always made sense to me. since i was in high school, i would think about how people work so they can go on vacations and stay in exotic locales. but my line of thinking was always just, “why don’t you work where you really want to be?”  whether that’s in the caribbean, greece, thailand, north america, or europe? it is perhaps the most sensical thing i have ever thought of.

when i am feeling particularly struck with wanderlust i like to peruse various ESL job boards and marvel at all of the countries i could go to. mexico, chile, thailand, italy, poland, japan… they could all be calling my name and with a TEFL (or TESOL) certificate, i know that i could make that dream a reality with one little application.


sure, a TEFL certificate isn’t the cheapest thing i could think of doing (i paid $1100 in tuition fees), but it is certainly the best investment of both your time and money if you want to learn how to be a teacher and work anywhere in the world. and because lately, i’ve been getting quite a few emails about taking the TEFL, i thought i’d explain a little about it.

what’s the TEFL process like? i took a four week intensive course (monday through friday, 10-6) where i listened to lectures, and then put my notes into practice when i spent time actually teaching from day two on! (my tefl school was really hands on like that and i can’t thank them enough) you can use your weekends to explore the city you’re in, but weekday evenings are mostly just spent lesson planning and working on projects. it was a very intense process and i really had to face any teaching fears absolutely head on, but by the end of my course, i felt completely confident to begin immediately… this is coming from a really eager would-be teacher with no prior experience with foreign learners.

after the course (if you choose a good school!) you can use the extensive alumni network and help from the school to secure a job. we ended up moving to české budějovice because of a job that alex learned about at the job fair at the final day of our course. the connections have been invaluable!


where to TEFL? you’ll find online courses, courses in a major city near you, and courses abroad. what they don’t tell you?  you need to go for a course that included at least 8-10 hours of hands-on teaching time (very important!), which rules out most online courses. in cities where there are loads of freshly graduated TEFLers, this 8-10 hours of teaching actual students will give you an extreme advantage and perhaps a leg up over those that have never taught before in any capacity.

for me, personally, taking the TEFL abroad was an excellent way to meet new expats like yourself in my new home. it also helps to have the local assistance while you get acclimated to a new country; tasks like figuring out how to receive a package from the post and ‘what do these signs on this rubbish bin mean?’ were sorted out by friendly assistants at my school. as a graduate, i can say that i actually feel confident that i can secure a job on several different continents for the rest of my life… and life-long job security and travel is an absolutely delicious combination.


also note: you don’t need a college degree to get TEFL certified, and it is possible to get hired by a language school without one in certain areas, but having one will certainly help secure you a job sooner.

feel free to peruse my posts from life during the time of my november 2012 TEFL course in prague: first day of school, december, and graduation! happy travels!

(linking up with the #sundaytraveler crew)