Teaching English and teaching abroad: blogs, contributions, stories, summaries and tips

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Teaching Abroad?

  • In non-Western countries you often end up as a paid teacher, in contrast to teaching as a volunteer, at schools where the parents of the children belong to the richer upper class of society or are stationed in that country as expats. People who speak fluent English are often hired to encourage conversation, rather than to teach grammar. Basic knowledge of English grammar is a big advantage when students come to you with strange questions. There are many non-western countries where you can teach English, even if English is not your native language. In order to guarantee the quality of education, a certificate or (TEFL) diploma is increasingly requested.

What is a TEFL Course for Teaching English abroad as a Foreign Language?

  • TEFL: The course is, of course, entirely in English, and is made up of various modules aimed at developing didactic skills and the methodology of teaching the English language to non-native speakers. With the globally recognized TEFL diploma, you demonstrate the essential skills for an English teacher. Internationally, the demand for English teachers is increasing and with a TEFL course you significantly increase your chances of a paid teaching job!

What is is the difference between TEFL, TESOL, CELTA and TESL?

  • In practice, the difference is relatively small. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, CELTA stands for Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults, and TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language.
  • In many countries in the world a TEFL certificate is requested (this can be TEFL, TESOL or CELTA).
  • In some countries, for example in Southern Europe, a practical course (TESOL/CELTA) is requested. This is an intensive 4 week adult teaching course and is specifically for those truly pursuing a career in TEFL. You can take this course through TEFL in Spain.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and learning English - WorldSupporter Theme
Teaching materials and preparing lessons abroad - WorldSupporter Theme
Teach your way around the world: blogs and contributions - Bundle

Teach your way around the world: blogs and contributions - Bundle

Find someone who - Language teaching material

Find someone who - Language teaching material

teacher in class of students

Education Category: Language
Ages: 4-8, 8-12, 12-16

A way for students to get to know each other in a new setting is to let them find someone who has had a specific experience. The students will ask each other predetermined questions, such as:

'Look for someone who has...'

  • visited another country
  • played in a band
  • met someone famous

Think about how many questions you want the students to ask each other. Think about the instructions you'll give about answering the questions, and about the questions which are culturally accepted in the country where you are teaching.

Teaching English without Teaching English: TEDxTalk

Teaching English without Teaching English: TEDxTalk

Teaching English to students who's first language is not English can be quite difficult. They may be able to answer certain questions and do well on tests about the topics that they had to learn. However, when it comes to having a regular conversation with your students or asking about something outside of their learning area, students usually have great difficulty with answering questions. In this TEDx video, Robert Guzman, a full professor at the University of Puerto Rico, explains his teaching method that he calls "teaching English without teaching English". It is a very interesting video to watch,

...Read more
Teaching English Abroad - Does age matter?

Teaching English Abroad - Does age matter?

Teaching English is a popular way to work abroad for a few months or even years. Although some cities are crowded with English teachers, more provincial areas still have many who are looking to improve their English.

There are always many interesting questions involved, such as one today. A woman asked if age mattered when looking for a teaching job abroad. Although you can travel (and work) at any age - and it's probably more about your mindset than anything else.. Still in some countries of for some organizations it will be a deal breaker if you are over 60...

Hopefully for those of you who are looking for opportunities to go abroad after retiring and looking for a teaching job > this interview with Donna who teaches English and travels the world at age 68 is inspiring!

Turning tables: learning from students while teaching English abroad

Turning tables: learning from students while teaching English abroad


Recently I read a nice blog written by "TEFL" teacher Ashley Sheets. Ashley, or Miss Sheets, shows that teaching a (foreign) language abroad also is about learning the other way around. Learning about working and living in other cultures, acquiring new competencies, getting insights in other ways of living, etc.

/// Ashley's blog ///

Turning Tables

Miss Ashley, Miss Sheets, Ashley teacher.....I get called a lot of things. I’ve taught English as a second or foreign language in quite a few different countries over the past seven years, and my work in international schools has given me access to students from more countries than I can remember. And these students have all had different names for me. In South Korea it was Ashley teacher (usually pronounced “Ash-uh-lee teach-uh!” by the little ones in my kindergarten class). In the sweltering Marshall Islands it was Miss Ashley. My Somali students referred to me simply, respectfully, as “Miss”. 

Being in a room full of rambunctious 5 year old Koreans, all speaking their mother tongue and running amuck with the level of energy that is generally afforded to those of their age, was never something I expected in life. Nor did I ever expect to spend a year of my life teaching largely uninspired but utterly delightful island kids on a tiny piece of land the size of a football field (the same kids who couldn’t stand grammar lessons, but serenaded me with ukulele singalongs and shared their ramen/kool-aid mixtures with me). It just goes to show that if anything can be said about teaching English abroad, it’s that it is never, ever, dull! 

For everything that I have ever helped a students to learn, they have taught me something in return. Regardless of age - child, teenager, adult - they all have something to teach me, and I could not possibly have chosen a profession that had more life lessons in store for me. Sometimes these lessons have been wonderful, sometimes difficult, sometimes life-affirming. When I lived in other countries and taught in their schools, I was a complete and total outsider, doing my best to swim against the current and offer up my students all the English that they could absorb during the short time they had with me. But outside of those classrooms, I was utterly immersed in learning as much as I could about the language and culture that enveloped me almost completely. I was a tiny foreign fish in a very large pond, and I always felt that way.

But teaching in English speaking countries, specifically in America and in the UK, has been a different experience altogether. Helping my little fish in the big pond that I call home, where I can speak and understand the language inside and outside of school, creates a completely different atmosphere for learning, and adds a sense of urgency for these students that just want to communicate with the world they find themselves living in. 

One of my very first teaching experiences is still, to my mind, one of the most rewarding I’ve had. In my hometown in Ohio, there exists a huge population of Somali refugees that have permanently emigrated to the USA. Years ago, I served as a teaching assistant in a class of only Somali woman, friends and neighbors all and ranging in age from 16 - 80, with very little English knowledge among them. These women needed the language, not just to move toward some goal of “assimilation”, or for a big test; but to find jobs and help their children in school, to fight with their aggressive landlords, and run their small businesses. 

It was the purest form of language learning, and many of the women didn’t even know how to hold a pencil. My oldest student was nearly 80-although she couldn’t confirm it, as she had no way to be entirely sure of the date and year of her birth. With a wide, toothless grin she came to class every evening and, along with her classmates, helped me realize that I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else but helping people just like her learn my language, if that’s what they wanted or needed to do. 

Now I teach in a school with a huge mix of students from countries around the world. Every day, we come together, and we teach each other. I refuse to think that they are the only ones learning anything, and hopefully they are learning as much from me as I do from them. So Ashley teacher it is. Or Miss Ashley. Miss Sheets works too. But what the students call me isn’t as important as what we continue to learn from each other. We’ve got a nice thing going.


Share your experiences

  • In what way -and about what- did you learn yourself while teaching abroad? Share your experiences by posting a comment, or write a blog yourself.

Read more

  • Thinking about Teaching English Abroad? Read more about the online and weekend TEFL course and increase your chances of finding a job abroad with an internationally recognised TEFL certificate.
  • Read Ashley's blog @expatsblog.com
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