Hey all! I just want to leave a quick blog post on something I’ve heard a lot about lately- internships for TEFL. I have known some reputable companies offering internship opportunities for ESL teaching. These programs usually provide on-location training abroad and ultimately there is the potential of a permanent position with a school. Not all of these companies are out to rip you off and some of them offer new teachers a good way to start their career in ESL.
Last week I ran a training course in Chicago and a young participant told me of his recent ordeal during an internship position in China. As a fresh college graduate, he decided to travel and try out teaching. After browsing on the internet he applied for an internship program which offered a comprehensive 3 months training period and a ‘guaranteed’ job offer. The day after he got off the plane, his school threw him straight into 25 hours of teaching per week, without any training period. They employed him illegally for 3 months on a tourist visa, gave him no support in his general living and paid him just 2,500RMB ($401.15) per month!
When I heard about this person’s experience I did some research and found that there are many similar stories of people being taken advantage of via an ESL internship; all over the world. If you are a job seeker, I don’t want to discourage you from considering internship programs but please be careful and don’t lead yourself into this kind of position! Ask to see a contract beforehand.
One of the most prominent questions amongst newbies to the ESL world is whether or not ESL training is essential. Now, to say something is essential we are really asking ‘can you become an ESL teacher without any prior training and qualifications?’ If this is your question then the answer is simply yes.
Many long-timers in the ESL industry boast that they got into the industry without any training beforehand. I would say to anyone who wants to get started in ESL teaching that you should think of prior training in terms of value-added to your personal abilities and resume. This is a better mindset to take on when you evaluate ESL training. Training courses come in many forms, some are short and intensive, others are longer in duration. Some are relatively cheap whilst others are incredibly expensive. It usually comes down to your ability to pay and the amount of time you can dedicate to a course. Regardless of which course you choose, lets look at the value of courses generally…
Okay, so you want to be an English teacher but you’ve never stepped foot into a classroom before. You may have done some research but you probably won’t have too much of an idea about what’s involved in the job. Any course should provide an insight into the industry and show you what (in theory, at least) happens in the ESL classroom. It will probably also equip you with the theoretical background you need to understand how to teach English as a foreign language effectively. Just having the knowledge of how it all works, without ever putting it into practice, is a great start. Most courses will also give you some practical experience, usually via role-play, demos and mock lessons. Although this is not the real deal it will give you a feel for what your role will be and probably give you more confidence to take into your first lesson. Although there are many other reasons why training is important, the most valuable one is that you will have something to add to your resume and job applications. It’s true that there are thousands of jobs out there but having qualifications will certainly give you a step up the ladder.