Finding work abroad can be tough, but imagine a qualification that practically guarantees you a job in a foreign country? A piece of paper that allows you to earn an actual wage, rather than just living expenses? Even better, one that offers you the chance of a truly life-changing experience? You would want that qualification, right? Who wouldn’t? Well, you can stop dreaming, because a TEFL course is just what you need!
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) courses are the most effective way of learning the ins and outs of teaching English to non-native speakers, as they provide you with both the skills and the practice needed to cope in a classroom. If you want to teach in countries such as China or Japan, a TEFL qualification will give you instant credibility with the schools.
i-to-i is a British company that started providing TEFL courses thirteen years ago, when founder Deidre Bounds returned from a career break teaching English in Japan, China and Greece. She decided to give others what she had not been able to find: a reliable English-teaching course at an affordable price. From the first weekend courses in Birmingham, i-to-i has grown into an international organisation and now has offices in Australia, the USA and Ireland. Altogether i-to-i trains around 15,000 people to become TEFL teachers every year!
Trying to teach English is exciting but also extremely difficult, so having a TEFL under your belt can help you settle into your new role more quickly. i-to-i recommends taking a few classes before in the native language of the country you intend to visit; not only will this help you make yourself understood when you arrive, it will give you some idea of the difficulties your future students will face.
There are two different types of courses offered by i-to-i: online, weekend and abroad. You can choose between a 40 hour and 60 hour online course, with the longer course including the Specialist Certificate in Grammar – an extra qualification for your CV! Online courses are completed in your own time, and it is possible to take up to six months to finish, enabling you to study around work or even whilst travelling. They are very theoretical, giving an in-depth coverage of key teaching practices. For the 40 hour course you complete 10 modules on subjects such as lesson planning, grammar and vocabulary, classroom management and how to teach the four key language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). It is possible to take additional modules in Business English, Teaching English to Young Learners, Teaching with Limited Resources and Teaching to Large Audiences if required later on. You get a personal tutor to give you feedback and access to the i-to-i database, as well as a log-in account on the website to track your progress.
The weekend course combines theory with the practical side of teaching, and is more intensive than learning online. Courses are available in cities around the country, and can be combined with the online option to give a thorough grounding in everything you need to know to teach English well. The only requirement to take a TEFL course with i-to-i is the ability to speak English already. If English is not your native language, a Cambridge CAE qualification will ensure that you can understand the language well enough to teach it to others.
For those who really want to know their stuff before heading out, i-to-i has launched two new programmes this year: 80 hour and 100 hour TEFLs. The first combines the weekend course, online course and Specialist Certificate in Grammar, whilst the 100 hour course includes all four additional modules as well. With one of those behind you, there will be no-one you cannot teach!
Of course, having a TEFL qualification can be useful even if you do not intend to teach abroad in the immediate future. i-to-i offers top up courses if you want to refresh your memory in a few years time, and even if you don’t utilise the skills in a teaching environment, they will help you communicate in countries where English is not widely spoken. And once you have completed whichever course you choose, that’s it: you are qualified to teach English!
What is the next step? Finding a job of course! With your new certification you are free to contact schools directly to find out if they have vacancies, but many people opt to use an intermediate company to help them search.
i-to-i Placements is just such a company, and if you choose to go on one of their placements the TEFL course is included in the cost! They arrange a job with a reputable school, that pays a competitive salary and the fee also includes airport pickup, orientation and in-country support, so you are not completely alone in a new country. Some of their placements include accommodation or other bonuses, but it largely depends on the country and individual schools; for example, Honduras, Greece, India and South Korea offer flight reimbursements.
i-to-i Placements offer teaching jobs in twelve countries worldwide, and prices start from £400, depending on where you go and the length of your stay. The working hours and time commitments change from school to school, and salaries also vary, but tend to reflect local rates. This means if the cost of living is low in one country your wages will be low, and vice versa. One of i-to-i’s most popular destinations is South Korea, which may have some connection to the average £1000 per month pay rate, but in countries such as Honduras, where you can expect something in the region of £300 a month, your expenses will be much lower and therefore the wage difference will not be as noticeable. Jobs tend to last between six and twelve months.
Although i-to-i is best known for its teaching placements, it also offers over 500 volunteering abroad opportunities in a range of fields (conservation, community development and building) in thirty five different countries. It sends around 5000 people out on voluntary projects every year, so has plenty of experience in the voluntary sector. All the projects supported by i-to-i sustainable and run by the local community – the company feels it is irresponsible to have volunteer-run only projects in case interest in that particular project wanes in the future. Instead, volunteers are sent to support existing projects that they know will make a difference to the community they want to help – and know that after they leave the project will continue helping others.
If you don’t want to take a TEFL course but still want to teach, i-to-i has voluntary teaching projects available too. Visit www.i-to-i.com/volunteer/ for more information.
It must be noted that for the placements i-to-i usually requires applicants to be educated to degree level, mainly for visa purposes. This is not set in stone, and countries such as Brazil and Honduras can be flexible about the requirement. In some circumstances people without degrees are able to go on a placement, so it is worth contacting i-to-i directly. Either visit www.i-to-i.com or call 0800 011 1156 to find out what can be arranged for you.
Paid Teaching Placements in: Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand