Opportunities outside the classroom
Taking a certificate course to teach English as a Foreign Language doesn’t only prepare people to get in front of a class of language-learners and teach. It opens the door to a host of related jobs within the EFL industry.
Have you ever wondered who helps foreign movie actors learn their lines in English? It could be a former ESL teacher. Or, who looks over five-star resort’s restaurant menus to make sure there aren’t any embarrassing typos? It could be the same person who trains the waiters how to take your order in English.
Over the years, I’ve published books, put up websites, written business book summaries for executives, proofread medical articles, and tried to tutor a Saudi prince (note: there will not be an upcoming musical, The Prince and I). In addition to these, there are a ton of other options for knowledgeable ESL teachers who enjoy diversity in their work schedules.
Below I’ve compiled a short, and by no means complete, list of jobs that need the same kind of skills you learn in a TEFL course and on the job as a teacher:
◆ Creating teaching materials. The best English teaching materials are written by English teachers, of course. This job isn’t only writing handouts, either. Teaching materials might include illustrated flashcards, compiling short workbooks of preexisting handouts, writing the script for a flash-based English learning game, and more.
◆ Voiceovers and video talent. One thing an EFL teacher learns quickly is how to grade his or her speech for a class of English learners. This skill is also in demand in video and audio production. You may find a job doing the voiceover for training videos, or even being a model or actor within the video itself. These are not reserved for the young and beautiful only. Us normal people sneak in from time to time too!
◆ Translation/interpretation. If you live abroad for a length of time, you may find your ability in the local language becomes as important as your skills in English. Many English teachers have become translators or interpreters.
◆ Editing/Proofreading. An affinity for words and proper grammar, backed up by an eye honed for catching student errors? Teaching in an ESL classroom is great training to be a proofreader. Many businesses abroad need to communicate in English in their paperwork or on their website, and hiring a native-speaking proofreader to check their language skills makes good business sense.
◆ Company training. The same speaking and presentation skills that you perfect as an ESL teacher carry over into other kinds of training. Doing product training, sales training and other kinds of soft skill development may be a natural extension of your English teaching career.
◆ Teacher training. If you’re in the industry for a long enough time, you’ll start getting asked to mentor and assist new teachers at your school. With further education and a desire to learn the ins and outs of teaching methodology beyond remembering the abbreviation “PPP,” you can become a teacher trainer and inspire new waves of EFL teachers to follow their dreams and teach abroad.
What other EFL-related jobs can you think of? Leave a message in the comments section below.
Ted’s Tips #1: Always keep an eye open for opportunities. There are plenty of chances to try new EFL-related jobs if you are receptive to finding them.
Ted’s Tips #2: Don’t limit yourself to a label. You are a “teacher,” yes. But that’s not the only thing you can be.