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When it comes to teaching ‘English for Speakers of Other Languages’ (ESOL), the majority of teaching takes place in Further Education colleges, as opposed to private language schools.
With the UK having one of the most multicultural societies in the world, ESOL teachers are in high demand and will remain so for the long term.
Data from the 2011 Census in the UK showed there were 5.7m people living in the country who were born in countries where English is not the national language, while 726,000 migrants and refugees could not speak English well if at all (1.7% of the population).
In March 2020, a new £6.5m English Language programme was announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick designed to help local authorities to meet the English language needs of their communities.
Training providers will be able to use the funding to “meet the needs of pre-entry to entry level one ESOL learners”. Essentially, the programme aims to increase integration in up to 25 local authorities.
Alternatively, opportunities are numerous for ESOL teachers outside of the UK. The British Council offers around 2,500 language assistantships each year, for instance. These language assistant roles are offered as paid six-month or one-year placements and present the chance to strengthen CVs, as well as develop professional confidence.
What qualifications do you need to teach English as a second language?
Courses for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) can be taken at colleges and private training providers across the globe. The most common TEFL qualifications are the ‘Cambridge Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults’ (CELTA) and the ‘Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages’ (Trinity TESOL). Both of these courses involve around 130 contact hours and six hours of observed teaching and are considered introductory courses.
Another route to becoming an ESOL teacher is via university. Some employers may expect you to have a degree or postgraduate qualification that gives you qualified teacher status (QTS). To study for the degree you will usually require two to three A levels, or equivalent, and a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course.
As an example, the Curriculum Team Leader Young ESOL position at Newham College London asks for an honours graduate, or have a relevant final professional qualification (CELTA, PGCE, QTLS or equivalent experience). In addition, Level 2 English and Maths are also essential qualifications for potential candidates.
How much can you earn as a TEFL teacher?
In the UK, there is quite a jump in salaries for TEFL teachers, ranging from £14,000 to £35,000 depending on experience, according to the National Careers Service. Working with students on an hourly basis can pay between £25 and £30 per hour, although Payscale puts the median TEFL hourly wage at £14.26.
For TEFL teachers working abroad “salaries vary between countries and cities, and change quickly depending on demand”. In North Asia, there is always high demand for TEFL teachers across the region. Salaries are highest in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea where teachers can earn up to £2,000 per month.
Salaries in China are around the £1,000 a month mark but the cost of living is relatively low and employers tend to offer significant perks, such as free accommodation and airfares.
Although wages in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are lower than in North Asia, these countries remain popular among TEFL teachers. You can expect a salary of around £600 per month but it must be borne in mind that the average Thai citizen earns half of this figure.
TEFL jobs in Central and Eastern Europe are harder to come by, but cities such as Prague remain popular destinations. Salaries come in at around £1000 per month.
Western Europe is also popular but there is less demand as English levels remain high there. TEFL jobs in Germany and France can pay up to £1,800 per month but this will likely be lower in Spain or Italy.
STA states it is hard to generalise about TEFL jobs in South America due to the countries in the region having such varied economies. An hourly rate of £7 can be earned in the region’s wealthier cities, such as Buenos Aires or Santiago.
Salaries in the Middle East are among the highest in the world. In Saudi Arabia, for example, an experienced TEFL teacher can bring in £2,600 a month.
Lastly, Africa’s TEFL positions are largely on a volunteer basis, which may well be rewarding but not for those who wish to earn as they teach.
After consultation with international educators, experts, travellers and ESL speakers, Go Abroad created the following list of the top-10 most popular countries to get TEFL certified in 2019:
3. South Africa
7. Czech Republic
Can you teach English as a foreign language in the UK?
You can indeed teach English as a foreign language in the UK. Every person’s route towards becoming an ESOL teacher is as different as the job roles available in this sphere. You could become a private tutor or work at an independent language school as an English teacher. ESOL teaching can be perfect as a summer job or can lead to a fully-fledged career in the further education and lifelong learning sectors.
Like Barry Jacques, you could teach at a sixth-form college. He heads a team of four ESOL teachers at Central Beds College after spending 20 years running a jewellery design and retail business.
Jacques holds an English degree and then undertook an initial teacher training course and part-time, concurrent two-year courses for both CELTA and PGCE qualifications by his college.
Embracing the flexibility
Jacques explains that his role is multi-faceted: he is teacher, student coordinator, planner and facilitator. He says that he must “constantly work out what will benefit our adult learners most to meet their needs in English and what’s available to help us do that”.
He adds that he began “working out how to blend the teaching options from my CELTA course into functional skills so learners could transfer their language skills”. Learners from different parts of the world have different educational needs, which is something you will need to figure out on the job to find the best way to get your message across.