Going to a different country that does not speak your language can be extremely intimidating. It can also be expensive. Something that could make that experiences a little less scary is taking a job in that country. A good opportunity to travel the world and get great work experience is the TEFL certificate. TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is a certificate that gives you the ability to teach the English language to people not as a second language, but as a foreign language. Foreign languages are usually taught in places where you don’t hear that language on a daily basis. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, this is actually a linguistics based program and not an English literature based program, so it’s new to a ton of different people.
My school happens to offers this program to students of all different majors and programs. It’s a great way improve your résumé as well learn some things about language as a whole. For my program, we take six classes in total and we actually have a study abroad program that you can get this whole certificate in a couple of weeks and get the experience you need, in a different country.
Usually you’ll take a one or two English grammar classes just to get the basis of the English language. This can include talking about different dialects, the way that English as a language is structure compared to other languages, such as sentence and word structure, as well as the many different contexts we may use the English language.
After those classes, you may take classes that will relate to the actual teaching aspect of the program such as methods, ethics of teaching, as well as more simple concepts such as lesson plans. This is where you may find future teachers as well as people who are very interested in how people learn. I was a bit weary of this part at first, as I never envisioned myself as a teacher. I was definitely more comfortable in the student position. However, the teachers are there to teach you how to teach in a sense. You’ll learn how students may feel, but also how teachers may feel as well as how to approach different contexts such as countries, languages and cultures. It can be intimidating to learn that in those couple of classes you’ll be learning how to potentially teach people a new language, but that is usually when the last part comes in.
My last class in my program is a practicum. This is the part where we put together everything that we’ve learned over the past couple of months/years and actually go out and teach people lesson. In some cases, they will be students who will actually want to learn English. Depending on the level that you’re trying to teach, you may only have to do simple things such as translation of small words as well as grammar lessons. Or maybe you’ll want to go more complicated and teach English for people who are trying to go to English speaking universities. Some teachers have their specialties and it completely depends on what you’re really interested in.
After learning all of this, you’ll then be going out and applying for jobs. For many people, this is the most fun part of the process. If you’ve ever wanted to live in a different country or learn about a different culture, you can pick a place that you want to go to. Of course in some countries, the demand is higher than others depending on what their official languages are and if they’re a developed country or not.
Some people may go to work with the Peace Corps, a nonprofit, or simply enter the workforce in a different country and blend in. Others may simply put it on their résumé and get a good experience out of it. No matter what you use this certificate for, it’s a great opportunity to learn something new and potentially teach others something new.