Teaching and traveling around the world sounds like an epic fantasy, right? But the question is, are there really enough EFL teacher jobs out there for English teachers? I mean, do that many people really need to learn English? The short answer is yes, but there’s more to the story than that.
Before you take the leap to teach abroad, do good on your research about the reality of EFL teacher jobs first.
Why the Number of EFL Teacher Jobs is Growing
For those teaching English abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in the mid-2000s, English was not something you heard very much in day-to- day life, outside of English lessons. If English was heard on the street, it was most often in two places: near hostels (where the international travelers were hanging out) or near tourist sites and souvenir shops (where the international tourists were hanging out). Basically, where there was a need to communicate, English language learning happened.
That trend took off, and here we are today, with a world full of EFL teacher jobs just waiting for you. Here are some more detailed reasons why the trend of learning English (and teaching it!) happened:
English is the global language of communication.
That means – you guessed it – people all over the world need to learn English for one reason or another. In fact, one in every four people in the world speaks English at a “useful level.” English is what people now use to communicate while travelling, to meet new people, to connect with foreigners, and maybe even more importantly, to share and learn on the internet.
Walking down the street in Prague today, you’ll hear nearly as much English as you do Czech, and most of the English belongs to mixed groups of international travelers and tourists alike. When you ask students why they want to learn English, the answer is very, very often to travel or simply to speak with foreigners.
Learners of English desire a window into the world.
Did you know that there are more people who speak English as a second (or third, or fourth!) language than people who speak English as a native language? Because of this, there’s a world of English out there that is used by non-native speakers to other non-native speakers. Long story short, you can help the world communicate by teaching people English.
But, that’s just English for pleasure and personal growth. You should also know that…
English is the global language of business.
Even if people don’t need English for travel and leisure, they’re finding that they need to speak English to some degree to be successful professionally. IT guys need English to read technical manuals and to troubleshoot for international branches of their companies. Shop assistants need English to speak with foreign visitors. Doctors need English to read international medical journals, and to speak with foreign patients. Business people who work for international companies very often attend meetings and generate emails and reports in. Do you see the pattern yet? English language skills are needed in the business world.
Take a look at top listings for jobs overseas, and you’ll see that speaking English is very often listed as a job requirement. The international exchange of goods and services – and with it, the need for international communication – has been growing steadily over the last decade. Business and industry-specific English for students of mine over the last decade have ranged from how to run a business meeting (in English) to how to give tours of historical sites (in English). If there’s a business or service out there that deals internationally, there is a need for qualified English teachers.
KEEP READING: What You Need to Teach Business English Abroad
English is amazingly flexible as a language.
There’s a reason that English is well-suited for this global use. Have you heard the quote, “The wind does not break a tree that bends”? English is that ever-bending tree. When Facebook came on the scene, we turned the verb like into a noun, no problem. For example, My post got 128 likes. We needed a word for connecting to (or disconnecting from) people on Facebook, so we turned friend from a noun into a verb. Hence, I friended him Facebook. Don’t like them anymore? English already has un, so we just attached it to friend, and now we have to unfriend. When we don’t have a word, we make one.
Speakers of English can tweak the language to suit their needs. Even amongst my native-English speaking friends abroad, our English is peppered with phrases from the places we’ve lived. Here in Prague, we ask if anyone wants a pivo (a beer), and in South Korea we always raved about noreabang (karaoke – a word which English has already stolen!). English allows these new “stolen” words to mesh without much trouble.
Think about words like bouquet, waltz, tsunami, and moped. We use all of these words in English, but they all came from other languages originally. We simply fit the new words into our existing grammar, and voila! An English(ish) word is born (Oh, and voilà is, of course, stolen from French). As the people who speak English as a second (or third, or fourth!) language continue to use English more and more, we’re sure to see more new words popping up in English in the future. In fact, there are more dialects of English worldwide than you might imagine.
Even more, because English has such a huge body of vocabulary, speakers of English have lots of options. Students of mine, when not knowing one word, have found ways around it with phrases like fire mountain (for volcano) or where airplanes sleep (for airport). Did I chuckle a bit? Sure. Did I understand what they meant? Definitely. In English, if one particular word isn’t happening, there’s usually a workaround.
So, more people want and need English, and English can manage that load easily.
EFL teacher jobs are diversifying.
We’re not teaching only English conversation lessons any more, though of course those lessons are still important. Here’s just a sampling of approaches EFL teacher jobs can take:
- EFL music lessons
- EFL yoga lessons
- EFL cooking lessons
- EFL speed-dating
- …and the list goes on!
If people want to do something, chances are they’ll want or need to do it in English.
Got transferable skills from your work life? English teachers can use them. Now that English has established itself as the belle of the international communication ball, people need all sorts of specialized English. We call this, in general, English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Business English is the one most people have heard of, but there’s so much more. Aviation English (for pilots and the like), medical English (for those in the medical field), and legal English are all possibilities – and teachers can often teach these lessons without degrees in those fields.
Don’t be scared by those more technical fields, either, because there’s also tourism English (for wannabe tour guides) and telephone English (for those who talk on the phone a lot in English). Specialty lessons I’ve taught included “How to understand a New Zealand accent” and “How to deliver a good punchline in English” (that last one for a bank president who was terrified of English-language cocktail parties!). If there’s a specialized field, there is probably a specialized EFL teacher job for it.
Get Started: Find an EFL Teacher Job Abroad
More children are learning English.
Parents these days, sensing this global need for English, are sending their kids to English lessons more and more. In the European Union alone, most kids learn English in primary school as part of their national curriculum. The rest of the world seems to be on the same track – check out EFL teacher job opportunities in China, South Korea, and Vietnam, for example, and you’ll see how many are for teaching English to kids.
Not only is there a need, but teaching English to kids abroad can give you incredibly useful professional experience to take home with you. Many EFL teachers that I have trained and worked with were primary or secondary school teachers in their home country, and came abroad to refine their EFL teaching skills before returning to do the same in their home (native-English speaking) countries.
Worried about competition for EFL teacher jobs? Don’t be...especially if you choose a TEFL program with job placement assistance.
Turnover for EFL teacher jobs is high.
Lots of EFL teachers stay abroad for a year or two, and then return to their home countries. This means that there is a revolving door at most schools, where the newly-trained teachers regularly enter and the one- or two-year veterans regularly leave. This also means that if you stick around for longer than a year, you’ve got a good amount of seniority. How many jobs can you say that about?
What’s more, because there are so many private language schools and freelance English teachers out there, the school-year schedule doesn’t always apply to EFL teacher jobs. Private language schools hire nearly year-round in most countries and private students are on their own schedules, so there’s plenty of opportunities to find EFL teacher jobs outside of the traditional academic year.
It’s time to land the EFL teacher job you’ve been searching for!
So now you know, there are diverse and numerous EFL teacher jobs out there. But, if you really want to get one of those jobs, you’ll probably need an accredited TEFL certificate and a bit of hustle. The EFL teacher jobs are out there, you just have to get yourself an accredited TEFL certificate and go find them!
NEXT STEP: Get TEFL Certified
This article was sponsored by TEFL Worldwide Prague. Based in Prague, Czech Republic, TEFL Worldwide Prague is located in the heart of a growing population of English learners, making their TEFL courses and guaranteed job placement services incredibly valuable to aspiring EFL teachers from around the globe.