Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL)
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teachers help adults and children to learn and/or improve their English language skills.
TEFL can also be known as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or ELT (English Language Teaching).
Most work is overseas, providing a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and lifestyle, but there is some demand for teachers in the UK.
Teach English as a Foreign Language
Sophie Newell, a University of Nottingham graduate, discusses teaching English as a foreign language in Shanghai with English First.
What could I be doing?
As a TEFL teacher you'll cover the language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. You may work in schools, specialist language schools, or further and higher education institutions.
TEFL teachers are often employed on fixed-term contracts e.g. for the academic year. You may also choose to be self-employed, or undertake freelance work as a tutor.
It’s worth considering the length of time you plan to spend working as a TEFL teacher; some individuals choose short-term work, for example as a gap year, rather than a long-term career.
What qualifications and training will I need?
What are the short term options?
Short courses are available, lasting from a weekend to a few weeks, which are ideal for a gap year, or if you intend to teach overseas only for a short time.
Companies such as i-to-i TEFL offer online or classroom courses allowing you to study at your own pace.
For more details on the shorter course options available, visit the Prospects English as a Foreign Language Teacher profile.
What are the long term career options?
What type of employers are there and where do I look for jobs and courses?
Many of the TEFL roles advertised may be situated outside of the UK. These may be through the British Council or through private language schools, volunteer organisations or other private institutions. There are some links below to look for these overseas opportunities. Please also see Passport Career for information about working abroad.
If you want to work in the UK, there may be opportunities in school and education settings such as universities and colleges. You may also find roles in voluntary organisations or community settings, as well as specialist language schools in larger cities.
Once experienced you may also be able to become a freelance teacher or specialise in particular opportunities (in business English, for example).
- The British Council - the largest single employer of qualified TEFL teachers
- DoTEFL -a global directory of TEFL courses
- ELgazette is an international newspaper for TEFL teachers and offers news, course search, events programme and TEFL jobs
- i-to-i TEFL - an online jobs board and source of advice on getting TEFL jobs abroad
- Guardian Jobs - advertises TEFL jobs and courses
- Tefl.net - lesson plans, teacher forums and vacancies