5 TEFL Myths Debunked

By Kelly Poindexter
May 15, 2014

The TEFL world is large and complicated one. Many teachers who are new to the field get mixed answers from all the blogs, forums and sites out there. So we just want to set the record straight on common TEFL myths for all you curious future teachers!

Myth: Employers won’t look well on teach abroad experience on your resume.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. By teaching abroad, you’re showing employers that you’re flexible, independent and can easily navigate difficult situations. Not to mention that you probably picked up a foreign language during your time abroad, which is an extremely valuable skill set.

Also it’s a great talking point during an interview. As soon as employers hear that you’ve taught abroad, they may start asking you all sorts of off the topic questions, and when it comes time to make a decision, your experience abroad will definitely stick out among the other candidates.

Myth: I have to speak the language of the country to teach English there.

Knowing the language fluently might actually hurt you as an English teacher, as you could be tempted to communicate with your students in their native language rather than work to explain and understand each other in English. And if you do your TEFL certification with BridgeTEFL, you’ll learn the Direct Method, a method of teaching English to a speaker of any language.

Of course knowing some of the language is going to help you get around your new host city better, not to mention help you to integrate yourself in your new culture, but you’d be amazed at how much you learn just being immersed in the language everyday. Personally, I went to Argentina not knowing Spanish at all, and left 4 years later completely fluent.

Myth: I can’t teach abroad without a degree.

It’s true that the majority of schools around the world prefer that you have a college degree; many will not hire a teacher without one. In most locations in Asia, as well as in some other countries, a college degree is a requirement in order to receive a work visa.

However, there are places in the world where teachers without degrees can qualify to teach English, for example Central and South America.

Myth: I can’t make a living.

Really? You could probably actually make far more money teaching English in the United Arab Emirates than what you would earn in an entry-level teaching job in the USA (think 3-4,000 a month, tax free and without any housing expenses!). Teachers in China and South Korea actually manage to save money – imagine that! In these countries teachers may also receive other benefits, such as free or subsidized housing, language lessons, reimbursed airfare, and bonuses.

In Latin and South America you may not find that you’ve hit the jackpot, but you’ll be able to pay your housing, food and even have some travel money.

Myth: I don’t need a TEFL certification to teach abroad.

Although some startup language schools are willing to hire native speakers with no qualifications, reputable institutes prefer to hire teachers with some training. Often the best jobs with the best salaries are reserved for certified teachers. In an increasingly competitive environment, it’s an absolute necessity at certain schools and in many locations.

Also, as a teacher, would you really want to work for a school that hires non-certified teachers? The best and highest paying schools will require a minimum level of certification to give their students the best possible education