A Guide: How to be an ESL teacher and getting Certification
ESL: Teaching in Vietnam

A Guide: How to be an ESL teacher and getting Certification

Many people have heard that teaching English abroad is a fulfilling experience, or a good way to make money; however, it’s difficult to know how to go about finding a job in another country. There are many different ways to go about teaching English abroad. Here are some things to consider when contemplating what kind of ESL teaching is a good fit for you.

Decision on a Program

The first thing to consider is if you want to go through a program, or arrange employment on your own. The benefit of a program is that they do a lot of the administrative / job placement tasks for you; it takes care of a lot of the work, and is more guaranteed; however, it can be really expensive.

photo 2_ ESL Teacher_ 2

If you choose not to go through a program, the other option is to get hired directly through a school or English center. There are resources online for bigger cities in SE Asia where people seeking teachers post jobs, as well as requirements and where to send your resume.

TEFL or TESOL Certification

The next thing to consider is getting your TEFL (Teaching English as a First Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification. You can do the certification in-person or online; it basically reteaches you a lot of the English grammar skills you may have forgotten (or don’t consciously think about), as well as explains and quizzes you on teaching skills.

Many, but not all, jobs require a certification; the ones that pay better and are more consistent typically require you to be certified. TEFL/TESOL are actually really informative and useful for classroom tips and techniques.

ESL Teacher in Vietnam.

ESL Teacher in Vietnam.

A Contract versus Freelancing

Another item you will want to think about is whether or not you want to sign a contract. Signing a contract gives you a better idea of what you are getting yourself in to; you sign in to a certain length of time and pay. ESL employers can be flaky at times; so, signing a contract is the best way to ensure consistency and legitimacy.

However, you can, atleast in large SE Asian cities, find ‘freelance’ ESL work that does not require you to commit to any length of time. The major difference between these is that contracts typically help you in acquiring a work permit, whereas many people who do ‘freelance’ ESL work are technically working illegally (and are thus paid under the table/not taxed).

Age Range?

When looking for a job, you should think about what age and level you will excel at teaching. Young learners have very short attention spans and require a lot of energy, whereas those who are learning essay writing or SAT skills are usually more advanced and disciplined in their studies. Different ages and levels require different skills; you should ask yourself: do you want to be teaching vocab/grammar, working with someone on their conversational skills, etc.

Resources to check out

There are plenty of resources out there for ESL teachers; one of the most notable being Dave’s ESL Café (eslcafe.com), where there are posts for job openings as well as an ‘idea cookbook’ for games, activities, etc. Most jobs will provide a textbook for you to use/follow along, which makes the general lesson plans easy to lay out. However, when you want to keep your classes engaging and fun, it’s definitely useful to find games, activities, and videos on the internet to complement the textbook.

Keep your  classes creative ; use YouTube, real articles (such as National Geographic), and make classroom competitions. You will really only get as much out of teaching as you put in; therefore, being prepared for lessons and giving your classrooms your best effort everyday proves to be the most fulfilling and beneficial to everyone involved.