How to get a job in EFL – qualifying

Getting an entry-level TEFL qualification

There are a host of online and offline courses claiming to give you the tools to stand in front of a class of strangers and teach them the finer points of the language. Groupon is littered with them, and even searching for legitimate courses will give you sponsored search results of less-scrupulous and, frankly, unrecognised courses offered at a greatly discounted rate.

Ignore them.

The two main two recognised courses by the British Council, and therefore your future employers in British language schools are CELTA (Cambridge) and Cert. TESOL (Trinity College).

Both these courses can be taken part-time (3 months) or full-time (1 month). If you plump for the full-time course, you’ll need to be aware that it will be a very intense experience; best expect no social life for a month and save up the box-sets for when you’re done.

There are other courses, especially if you are coming from abroad, which are equal to a CELTA. Many of these are university-level, and a key point is that they must include a practical element where you’ve been formally observed for at least six hours by a trainer. If a course doesn’t include this, it’s not worth considering in terms of getting an EFL job in the UK.

Many newly qualified teachers get their first job with the school they trained at; Directors of Studies are always on the lookout for talent, so it pays to make a good impression from the start.

Nobody expects trainees to be great teachers right away, but trainers always notice a professional attitude, so work hard, be helpful and make sure you’re punctual in attendance and handing in assignments. Even if you don’t get a job offer from the school where you qualify, your trainers will be the ones giving you a reference – and high-scoring trainees (with grades B or above) tend to get snapped up quickly.

If you want to work in the UK, you’ll improve your chances of immediate employment by finishing the course just before the busy periods at Easter and summer.

Do you need a degree?

In addition, many employers will want a university degree or similar Level 6 qualification. This is not always the case, and many good teachers working in the UK don’t have a first degree. Longer term, this is another reason to undergo further study (see below) as a diploma-level qualification is level 7 and so means you are also counted as educated to degree level.

Further Study

After two or three years’ experience, you might like to develop your practice and improve your employability and pay with further training with qualification such as a Delta or MA in TESOL or ELT.

That may be some way off, but you can read more about these options here.

by James Malplaquet