An ESOL English Teacher Asks
Among the hundreds of monthly visitors and readers of this EFL teaching blog, I sometimes get e-mails from non-native EFL teachers who’d like to parlay their English language communicative skills into a teaching position outside their native country. While I certainly agree it can be a challenge to do so, it is in fact possible. Many of the e-mails I receive are similar in content to this one in which I have omitted or altered names and specifics to protect the person(s) involved.
Dear Prof. Lynch,
“I am a non-native English-speaking teacher. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in English from a state university in my country. I have been teaching English for five years. Currently I am teaching English to speakers of other languages (Spanish speaking students) I would like to teach English abroad, but I have noticed that it is difficult for non-native English speaking teachers to work abroad.
Recently, I requested information from hundreds of schools in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America without having success because when most of them replied to me they told me that they only hire native speakers of English and that those interested in working as English teachers must be from countries like UK, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.
Besides this, most of the employers ask for certificates like TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. Unfortunately, here in my country there aren’t any institutions that offer the courses or programs mentioned above.
I feel deeply discouraged. Aren’t there any opportunities in any countries where they take candidates from non-English speaking countries for teaching English?
I want to teach English abroad for two reasons. The first is to get a lot of experience working with students from different cultures and to improve my English and my teaching.”
No TESOL Certification, No ELT Job Offers
The first and main problem here is actually NOT having a CELTA, TEFL or other TESOL certification. You’ll need to contact the nearest British Council office for locations where you might take an intensive CELTA course. Other options include Oxford TEFL training centers, Cambridge TEFL centers or TESOL centers in the country or region where you live. If there are none available locally or regionally, as is the case with this teacher, you might want to consider an online TEFL certificate course. Note that, without a TEFL certificate virtually NO school abroad would consider you at all. Also, the institution where you take your TEFL certificate course will help you get an overseas position. A search on Google or Yahoo for online CELTA courses or online TEFL certificate programs should yield you dozens of possibilities.
Check, Double and Triple Check ALL Correspondence
Another problem with this teacher was a number of English language spelling, punctuation and grammar errors in his e-mail. If you send an inquiry or cover letter to a school, institution or university by snail mail or e-mail and it contains ANY errors in English at all, you’ve just ruined your own chances of any further dealings with them. It is absolutely paramount that you spell check, grammar check, review and judiciously proof read and edit any correspondence you send out by mail in any form. Perhaps you’ll let an error or two slip by in spoken conversation or oral discourse, but there’s absolutely, positively NO EXCUSE for doing so with a written communication. Find a native or near-native speaker to proof read your correspondence before you send it out. No native English speakers handy? Okay, then e-mail ME and I’ll be happy to check it for you if need be – quickly and at no charge, of course.
Another problem that might crop up is the variety of English you may use or speak. Alas, this is not a perfect world we live in and certain forms of English are preferred in certain regions and countries of the world. Your age, nationality and background also may factor in, they really shouldn’t, but unfortunately they often do. Don’t despair though, if you’re experienced, dynamic and certified, you will get ELT job offers from broad if you keep trying. Try applying at different times of the year, to different regions of the world, to different types of schools and institutions that have different English language learner profiles. Persistence can be a crucial key. Just don’t give up and you’ll get there.