Is TEFL for you?


Sure, teaching English abroad for a year sounds interesting, but how can you find out if it is for you before committing yourself to a full year?

Volunteer
Especially if you live in a major city in an English-speaking country, there bound to be organizations providing English classes to immigrants or refugees. They are also bound to be looking for volunteers, and in many places, in order to keep their government funding, organizations which utilize volunteers have to organize training, so you may get a ten- or twelve-hour training course. Teaching a class yourself or being a teacher’s assistant (as opposed to tutoring a one-to-one student) will probably give you a more accurate picture of a teacher’s day.

Observe
A great deal of people in the TEFL industry work for private language schools and not in a volunteer capacity, so if there are private language schools in your area at home, find out if you can observe a few classes there.

My experience with non-profit ELT organizations is unfortunately minimal, but there do seem to be difference both between non-profit organizations and for-profit language schools, so observe both if you can.

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Browse some books aimed at teachers
Go to a bookstore, buy a latte, and sit and look through some of the books recommended to TEFL course students. Are they somewhat interesting and readable or are you bored to tears? Do the activities they talk about sound like things you could do, or would that scare you silly? Some commonly recommended books on teaching include:

Learning Teaching
Teach English Teacher’s Workbook: A Training Course for Teachers
A Course in Language Teaching
The Practice of English Language Teaching

Read TEFLLogue
This is just generally good to do whether you are interested in teaching or not. Seriously though, try to seek out accounts of people who have taught in addition to the material provided by schools or courses. If you know people who have taught abroad, ask them about their daily life — both the fun parts and the difficult parts.