Guest post by Simon O’Toole
Get TEFL certified! Whether you decide on a Level 5 or 120-hour course, the key is to get your TEFL certificate. A 120-hour course is the minimum requirement for most teaching jobs. The Level 5 course takes 168 hours because it may offer a more in-depth course than a 120-hour course. But the Level 5 course is not better than a 120-hour course nor does it mean you will be able to find a job quicker. If you are already TEFL certified, let the job search begin!
Do you feel insecure because you do not have any teaching experience? The majority of newly TEFL certified teachers have little to no prior experience. Don’t be discouraged if the jobs you reviewed require more experience than you currently have.
You’ll need to be practical as you plan and prepare yourself to become a seasoned TEFL professional.
You might want to consider conducting a self-analysis to assess your current skills, interests and qualifications. Which group of learners are you interested in and capable of teaching? What level are you interested in and capable of teaching? Are you qualified to teach in the context of your ideal learner? Teaching young learners will not require the same set of skills as teaching high school students.
After you have assessed your current qualifications, create a vision board or list your TEFL goals. Each new year of teaching, every opportunity you have to apply a new teaching technique, every lesson you modify and the more research you do to increase your knowledge will get you closer to achieving what is on your vision board or list of TEFL goals. Taking your teaching skills to the next level will require proactive effort.
After assessing your skills and qualifications, you may find that the jobs you qualify for have you teaching learners or teaching in a location that is not your first choice. Take the golden opportunity. This is an excellent chance to gain practical classroom experience and enjoy a cultural adventure. Experience contributes to making you marketable and leads you one step closer to your goals and ideal job.
Market yourself as a professional
Don’t let the knowledge you learned in your TEFL course lay dormant. While you are drafting your resume and cover letter to apply to jobs, spend time creating your portfolio to show off your potential teaching skills.
Your resume may not sell you as a seasoned TEFL professional yet, but you can still market yourself as a qualified teacher. Create teaching materials to teach grammar, vocabulary, reading or writing. Create materials for a variety of levels and learners to demonstrate you can tailor your teaching to meet the needs of diverse audiences.
Prepare a collection of PowerPoints to show how you would teach a specific topic or language feature.
Are you good at technology and using tech tools? Apply those talents to the materials you make. Create a Google Drive to store these materials. You can link your sample handouts and materials to your resume.
Research digital tools and apps and create fun quizzes. Record yourself on Zoom teaching an online course to demonstrate your comfort with technology. Or, record yourself teaching a 10-minute demo lesson targeting a specific group of learners. You can easily upload the videos to YouTube. When applying for jobs, share the link to the video on your cover letter or resume.
You’d be surprised at how many seasoned teachers may look good on paper, but do not have 21st-century classroom skills!
On your resume, highlight your educational technology skills by describing the specific apps and tools you know how to use. Your ability to use PowerPoint or other presentation tools should also be highlighted. Creating your own teaching materials should not be left out either.
Even though you have not applied these materials to any learners, many employers will appreciate these skills. Make sure you can connect your materials and skills to the specific set of learners for the job.
For example, if you are applying for a job teaching young learners, your ability to use digital tools will help learners engage and have fun while learning.
Your past life
When you write your cover letter or during your interview, sell your talents and previous work experience. Draw a connection between the skills you used in previous jobs to the classroom setting. For example, if you have experience in sales or customer service, explain how these skills will enable you to inspire your students to get excited about lessons. Your customer service skills will help you be a patient and understanding teacher.
Do you have musical or artistic talent? These are great classroom skills! Be sure to show off your talents and connect them to the job and learners you will teach.
Don’t underestimate your talents and abilities. You may not have much teaching experience now but in a year or two, you will be at a level where you can advise someone starting their TEFL job search or encouraging a new teacher who feels they are not qualified to teach. First, you need to get hired. So here’s a list to help you get started. Good luck!