When I tell people I teach English in a foreign country, their minds almost always snap to the same image – me standing in front of a room of kids in an elementary school, singing songs and counting straws. While, yes, that is the reality for many TEFL certificate holders across the globe, it is by no means the only option for teachers. The question most of us dread is, “how many students do you have?” The answer is never simply ‘28.’ Most of our schedules are dynamic and mixed and never the same two days in a row. A classroom is nice and offers the sort of stability most 9-5ers are used to, but let’s look at some alternatives.
This is most common in the summer. Parents are eager to have their kids productively working on their second (or third or fourth) language during the school break. Camps are usually a mix of formal lessons and fun activities such as the zoo or a jump park. These are lively, exciting days that pay well and keep people engaged, students and teachers alike.
There is a huge market for Business English teachers in Europe. Since there are so many languages in such a small geographical area, any business looking to operate outside the borders of their own country must have employees that are highly capable in multiple languages, and the safest bet is always English. This usually involves traveling to the company and working in nice, air-conditioned conference rooms with coffee and tea readily available. Specific vocabulary is often requested and TEFL teachers who come from a business background are highly sought after. However, there are resources available to assist any teacher who finds themselves in charge of one of these coveted courses, regardless of past experience.
These are the courses you typically know the least about before you meet your students. It consists of general members of the public who would like to improve their English. It can be people of all ages, backgrounds, and learning capabilities. The best part about public courses is that everyone there genuinely wants to be there, and they’ll give back all the energy that you put out. It could be a group of three, seven, thirteen – each public course is different. You could have two old ladies who have been best friends for life and decided to start learning English together, or a couple of young twenty-somethings trying to better understand American movies.
Online versus F2F
Another way to mix up your schedule is to include both online and face-to-face (F2F) classes. Perhaps there has been an upswing after the dreaded ‘C-word’ (I’m looking at you, 2020), but online language learning has always been popular as it allows people to connect more easily with native speakers from the country whose language they are trying to learn. Online lessons cut travel time and can quickly be done one after the other. F2F lessons allow for a better connection to your students and more hands-on learning. Nowadays, most teachers have a blend of the two types of classes.
Groups versus individuals
Yet another option to keep things interesting is to have a combination of group classes and one-on-ones. The games you can play and conversations you can have are wildly different within the two settings. One-on-one lessons are more individualized and involve more ‘on’ time for the teacher. In a group lesson, you can give the students a task and watch them tackle it together while you sit back and observe from the sidelines.
This is merely an overview of some of the most common types of courses, but the possibilities are endless.
So, how many students?
- Well, there are 13 on Mondays, 28 on Tuesdays, 7 on Wednesdays, and so on and so forth.
Do we stand in front of a classroom of kids?
Do we also help financial executives prepare presentations on this quarter’s numbers?
The job of an English teacher is not a static one. We could find ourselves involved in a 45-minute conversation on the latest Tarantino film, and only a few hours later we’re sweating through the final minutes of a three-hour-long intensive exam prep course. It’s thrilling, head-spinning, rewarding, and leaves us with plenty of stories to tell.
In just 4 weeks you can be teaching English abroad. TEFL Worldwide was awarded as the Top TEFL Certification Course of 2018 and 2019! Courses offered monthly.