So you’ve been teaching TEFL for a few years and you absolutely love it. You love the freedom to move to different countries and experience new cultures, the high of helping others to learn a new skill and, most of all, that much of your work day involves designing and playing games. Perhaps you’ve decided that instead of simply being a TEFL teacher for a few years, that you’d like to turn it into a career. But what are your options and what steps can you take to get those positions?
This post will take a look at ways to skill up, move into management or even become your own boss. Over the eleven years that I’ve been teaching/managing, I’ve had the chance to do all of the things I’ve listed, and I don’t regret any of those decisions.
If, however, you haven’t become a TEFL teacher yet, you can gain access to a free resource explaining how to become a TEFL teacher in ten easy steps, by clicking on the link below.
One way to progress with your TEFL teaching career is to learn new skills and get experience teaching different types of classes. When you are trying to get a more prestigious and/or better paying teaching job, the things that will stand out are the number of years of experience you have, your professional development and the specific types of classes that you’ve taught. For many of these TEFL opportunities, two years of teaching experience is posted as a minimum. Beyond that, skilling up is something you can take control of.
If you’d like to teach TEFL for the long term, it is definitely worth investing in a DELTA, Trinity Diploma or a Masters in TEFL. All of these are post TEFL certificate qualifications that take months to complete as well as an enormous amount of effort, time and money. These courses will go into more depth regarding different teaching methodologies, technical parts of language and involve a lot of observed class time. It will give you the skills to be a more confident and able teacher, as well as a qualification that will put you well above most other teachers.
Another way to gain teaching skills is simply through experience. I’d like to stress that the type of experience is very important, not just the amount of time that you’ve been teaching. If you teach the same age and level all day, every day, while you may be becoming an expert with that particular group, it won’t necessarily prepare you for a different type of class. Five years of teaching kindergarten children will not prepare me for the challenges of a business English course…and visa versa.
My advice is to try and take on as many new challenges as a teacher as you can. Then, not only can you put on your CV that you taught an IELTS course, for example, but during the interview, you’ll be able to easily answer questions and give examples of activities you used for these classes. Additionally, taking on different types of classes keeps things fresh and interesting.
Having said that, if you really enjoy a particular age group or type of class, becoming a specialist has its advantages. Many schools are looking for Business English professionals, Young Learner specialists or teachers who are experts in IELTS or other standardized international tests. Being a specialist will open doors towards becoming a senior teacher in different departments or get you involved with training. More on that ahead.
Move Up Into Management
Oh, I’m not a teacher. I’m a manager of teachers.-some pretentious guy in a bar in Tokyo.
The above quote has always bothered me. I remember the look on the guy’s face as he responded to my question of whether he was an English teacher. What I dislike the most about it now, having been a manager myself for over six years, is the indication that somehow a manager is above teaching, that they’ve now moved beyond it. The best TEFL managers that I’ve known over the years are the ones who were great teachers and extremely passionate about it.
Also, in TEFL management, there is still a lot of teaching to be done! Most management jobs will still require you to do some teaching hours. Likewise, you WILL still be teaching, but your students will now be other teachers. Once you’ve gained enough skills and experience to become a manager, it’s now your responsibility to share that with others. Being a good manager isn’t simply wearing a tie and locking yourself in an office. It is more work and more responsibility; it isn’t just more money.
Management in the TEFL world is quite diverse and, making it even more complicated, many companies use different terms to describe the different types of managers they have. I’ll walk you through some of the job titles I’ve seen over the years.
The Senior Teacher (sometimes referred to as a head teacher) tends to be in charge of the pastoral care for other teachers. They are often involved in teacher observations and teacher training as the core of their duties. Senior teachers are also responsible for the organizing, planning and execution of teacher workshops. This management position is usually the gateway into management and candidates are usually chosen for their exceptional teaching skills.
Along with Senior teacher, there are other job titles that will either place you at the same tier of management or slightly above. They are titles like head of primary, head of secondary and high school, YL team leader, Head business teacher, etc. These jobs usually exist because the company wants to specialize or develop certain types of classes, and the current management team either doesn’t have the skill or the time to develop it.
Then there is the assistant DoS and DoS position (sometimes referred to as Academic Manager). The DoS is in charge of the academic development of the school. They are usually in charge of the curriculum, the hiring of the teaching body, the creation of new courses, school wide events, a teacher development program and much much more. It’s a difficult job and usually requires that the candidate have about five years of teaching experience with some previous management experience as well. The assistant DoS is number two in command. Depending on the DoS’s management style, the assistant DoS will either be simultaneously in charge of the same projects as themselves or will have a more defined job description.
Become Your Own Boss
The industry is changing rapidly and with the advancement of new technologies, there are also new doors being opened. This is the time to start your own Youtube channel, English website or join and online development team. No one is exactly sure what the shape of TEFL will be in the future, but it is clear that importing native English speakers isn’t the most affordable long term solution. Don’t be scared by this, embrace it.
There are other more traditional ways to become your own boss as well. One is by becoming a freelance teacher and just taking on private clients. Another option is to work online, which is much less demanding than teaching at a center or in a school. If you’ve been in the industry long enough…it could even be time for you to take the plunge and start your own school.
To sum up the above ideas, there are loads of opportunities within the world of TEFL. So if you love this job, start considering what direction you want to advance your career in. If, however, you haven’t even dipped your toe in the water by becoming a TEFL teacher, you can gain access to a free resource about becoming a TEFL teacher in ten steps by clicking on the link below.