Wondering if TEFL is the career for you? Well, wonder no more! We spoke to teachers around the globe to find out just what it is that motivates them to keep coming back to the EFL classroom…
“The thing about TEFL is that it’s both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. I like how every day it provides the opportunity to express your creativity and personality in a unique way to a range of really interesting people. It can be difficult at times but when you get it right, the results for both teacher and student can be amazing!” Luke, Poland
Making a difference
“I love working in EFL because it gives me the opportunity to do work that I really get a thrill out of, to make a real, positive difference to people's lives and feel challenged in different ways all the time. And all this while embedding myself in a variety of vibrant, unique cultures around the world.” Kev, Portugal
“I never expected that by teaching English I’d learn so much about other languages, cultures and history. The teacher becomes the student and I love it” Rachel, South Korea
“What brings me joy in this job is the sense of empowerment I get to pass on to people, especially young people, who will use the English they learn in our class to achieve their goals, be they personal, academic or even political. Having good English makes you accessible to the world and more likely to be a leader, and that’s how we shape our curriculum.” Matthew, Hong Kong
Being part of something bigger
“I love working in TEFL because I find it extremely rewarding to see the progress my students are making every day and the great extent to which English empowers them to pursue their educational and career goals. On top of that, TEFL has allowed me to become a member of the community of people who truly value learning and given me a chance to make a few close friends with people from all over the world” Grzegorz, China
Seeing the world
“TEFL has taken me many places, from Asia to South America with multiple stops in between. I’ve been privileged to meet some fascinating and inspirational people along the way, both colleagues and students, and while I may have been there to support them in their language learning, I’ve also learned a lot along the way about people, communities and cultures” Chris, Argentina
Learning every day
“I like TEFL because it’s rewarding to help your students along the way in reaching their own individual goals; sometimes it’s a student wanting to pass an exam, other times it’s a young learner who’s building confidence in the classroom. I also love being the student too! Of course, working in TEFL there is always an opportunity for learning and development. I’ve learned lots from my colleagues, my students and even from a good reading text in the students’ course book!” Katie, Hungary
Communicating with the world
“I like working in TEFL because it helps children (and adults!) be better prepared to communicate in and understand the international world we live in today. I love being a part of that.” Shannon, Italy
Keeping you on your toes
“Although you have to be in certain places at certain times, TEFL never feels routine. Travelling around the city to classes, teaching different ages and levels, delivering lessons about all sorts of topics, getting to know each student, doing different TEFL related work besides teaching – these things all mean it never gets boring. Every day something ridiculous crops up so it’s a job full of funny stories worth sharing.” Hannah, Czech Republic
Opening up experiences
“I love TEFL because, although there have been moments where the privations of this life have been challenging, it has opened up a world of rich experiences that I could never have had in the ‘normal’ world of 9 to 5. From late night conversations in the cobbled streets of Sevilla, to watching the sun rise over frozen rivers in the steppes of Asia, TEFL has given me a unique experience of the world” Matt, Spain
“For me, the love for TEFL is because it’s the only job I’ve ever had where I know I’ll never truly master it and, for me, that’s somehow strangely addictive” Mahsa, UK
Penny Ur once wrote “It has been said that teachers who have been teaching for twenty years may be divided into two categories: those with twenty years’ experience and those with one year’s experience repeated twenty times” and it’s certainly true that TEFL is a career which offers a multitude of different development opportunities and possibilities to grow and take on new challenges with every academic year. But it also offers the opportunity to explore new countries and cultures, to learn more about the world and about yourself along the way. With so many options open to teachers today, what often starts out as a job to enable a passion for travel, quickly grows into a career to be passionate about in its own right.
There’s really no such a thing as a ‘typical day’ in TEFL, and as you can see from these teachers’ responses, it’s a career that really offers something for everyone. While they may have their different individual passions, motivations and experiences, every one of these teachers loves their jobs and their time in the classroom and are a testament to the variety of options and opportunities available to everyone who decides to make that leap and join the ever-changing world of TEFL.
Ur, Penny. (1996) A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.