Wondering how you can interact more with the ESL community? The Bridge TEFL/TESOL Jobs group on Facebook connects current and aspiring English teachers around the world who help each other in their search for teaching jobs in their home country, online, and abroad. In this private group, you can post tips, polls, and topics for discussion, as well as ask job-related questions and get advice. Here are some real queries members have posted in the group with answers provided by our experts.
Viktoria, from Armenia, asks: Can I work online if I’m not a native speaker?
Definitely! While you may see many English teaching job offers that require native English speakers, there are online ESL companies that welcome non-native speakers, too – so don’t be discouraged! For instance, companies like Palfish, 51Talk, and Cambly hire teachers regardless of their citizenship as long as they have a high level of English proficiency. Aside from this, applicants should possess other qualifications to be an online teacher, such as a TEFL/TESOL certificate and a bachelor’s degree, and comply with the company’s technical requirements.
Alternatively, if your first language isn’t English, teaching options include work as a freelance teacher, becoming a tutor in an online teacher marketplace like Preply or iTalki, or start your own business as a freelancer, like Bridge grad, Carla, has done!
Tim, from the US, asks: How can I build ESL experience and training?
If you’re looking for ways to kick-start or grow your English teaching career, you can get ESL experience under your belt in many ways – and it doesn’t necessarily mean giving classes in a real classroom!
Teach English online
First, you can teach English online from home for a company, which is a great way to learn the ropes and develop your skills for teaching English online. There are plenty of online language companies that accept applicants who have little or no teaching experience and, more often than not, they provide training before teachers start giving classes officially. Browse online teaching jobs on the Bridge Job Board.
Complete a teaching practicum
You can also build ESL experience by completing a teaching practicum. Bridge offers this option for classroom teachers (the 20-Hour Guided Teaching Practicum) as well as online teachers (the 60-hour Teaching English Online Practicum. These practicum options involve tutor-guided study, observation of teachers, reflections, and instructional hours with students. A practicum can be taken individually or you can also combine them with a TEFL/TESOL certification course if you’re not certified yet.
Volunteer teach or tutor
Meanwhile, you can also build experience as a volunteer teacher. For the moment, that might mean offering free tutoring services for language learners online, via Zoom or Skype. You can find students by posting on Facebook, especially within a group dedicated to English learners) or even within a neighborhood app, such as Nextdoor.
Or, you may find opportunities to volunteer in-person locally, such as in churches, community centers, or local schools. You can also volunteer teach overseas! For instance, Bridge grad Brenda, from the US, started her career by volunteering as an English teacher in Thailand, Mexico, and Chile.
Remember, every English teaching-related job counts as experience. Whether you are tutoring English to kids in your neighborhood, helping your colleagues learn English, or working on an institute’s curriculum, the skills you acquire from teaching the language will contribute to your professional development as an ESL instructor.
Cindy, from the US, asks: What opportunities are there for teaching adults?
As more and more adults are getting into learning English, the demand for ESL teachers is similarly increasing. So, if teaching adults, rather than kids, is your forté, there’s no doubt that you will find teaching jobs and students out there as long as you look for them in the right places!
You can also get adult English students by becoming a freelance teacher, tutoring in an online marketplace, or by running your own business. While tutoring adults is an ESL teaching niche itself because you cater to a certain age group of learners, specializing in teaching business English or teaching professionals in specific fields, such as nursing or engineering, is your gateway to getting an edge as an ESL instructor for adult students.
Aside from teaching English online, you can also give onsite English classes to adults in language institutes or companies that offer corporate language courses for their employees. This demographic is commonly taught in certain regions, such as Latin America.
Mariana, from Brazil, asks: Will the school or person that is hiring me help me relocate?
If you’re hoping to teach English overseas but unsure if you’ll get your future employer’s support in relocating and settling into the new country, don’t worry! In most cases, companies or schools will help you with processing paperwork, including requirements such as work contracts, visas, and IDs.
It’s also possible that employers will provide accommodations and airfare to qualified English teachers, although this depends on the country where you’ll teach and/or the company or school you’ll work for. Let’s look at the assistance you could get as an ESL teacher in various regions:
Sharon, from the Philippines, asks: What makes you qualified to teach English?
The requirements for teaching English vary depending on where you want to work and which types of classes you’d like to give.
To get an online English teaching job, the most common requirements are the following:
Jobs at language institutes or K-12 schools
If your goal is to grab a classroom-based TEFL/TESOL position in K-12 schools or language institutes, you will most likely be asked for the same requirements above, except for the technical requirements.
Take note that qualifications differ depending on the country too. For instance, most schools in China, Japan, and South Korea require ESL teachers to be native English speakers with a degree (usually in any subject), while schools in competitive regions like the Middle East may require a master’s degree and several years of ESL teaching experience.
Jobs in higher Education
Finally, if you’ve got your eye on teaching English in higher academic institutions like universities or colleges, you will most likely be required a master’s degree in TESOL. In some cases, this can be offset by substantial teaching experience.