Finding Your TEFL Sweet Spot

Imagine doing something you love. Something you are really good at. Something people pay you to do.

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

In 1992, after two years as a volunteer in Africa, I grabbed the first TEFL job that I could find without knowing I could make a connection between the past, present and the possibility of an incredible future.

Different strokes for different folks

People stand out, achieve and excel in their area of expertise. If you have a special skill or knowledge in a specific field of study, you are needed. The TEFL-world needs you!

During my time as a teacher and teacher-trainer I’ve taught and worked with different folks with broadly different skill sets. I’ve taught side by side with people from diverse backgrounds with highly specialized skills: engineers, accountants, lawyers, nurses, managers, artists, designers, social workers, journalists, travel agents and just about everything else.

Skills + Experience = Opportunity

If you have skills and knowledge in a specific area, put them to work for you in your new occupation: TEFL.

Who needs English teachers with your specialty?  Law schools, maritime schools, aviation schools, international hospitals, international law and accounting firms.  Just about every business that crosses international borders and the schools that teach the skills for those businesses.

A couple of simple examples: An international hospital would prefer to hire an English teacher that used to be a nurse.  Why?  S/he knows all the special vocabulary, the unique kinds of conversations and interactions that a nurse or doctor has with patients.  You and I don’t know those things and at best, can only guess.

Business schools, MBA schools and universities teaching international business would certainly prefer to hire me as an English teacher. Why, because I’ve managed an (admittedly smallish) international business and have an MBA.  I know how businesses work, the vocabulary and even what bosses are like.  I know the vocabulary of that business and what interactions they might have with their bosses and customers.

Got the idea?

The job hunt of finding that specialized college or university or business job might be difficult, but in the end you will be rewarded with a higher paying job and be rewarded with the satisfaction of using your skills – stick to what you know and enjoy the benefits!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

ESP (English for Special Purposes, also called English for Specific Purposes) has many benefits – it provides a platform for you to share your knowledge, usually it pays better than the normal English Teaching job and you get the added benefit of meeting people along the way with whom you share the same interests, knowledge and passion.

My Good Luck

In every country in which I have worked I have had the privilege and good fortune to teach ESP classes. It was always more interesting and usually with more pay – sometimes with much more.  And I met and taught people who had similar interests to mine.  What better place to make new friends?

Ted’s Tips™ #1: Do an Internet search to find colleges, universities and large corporations in your field of knowledge based in your target country. Approach them and be sure to mention your related skill in your resume/CV – bring your special skills to their attention.

ESP students are usually more motivated because you are there to help them to do a better job with their English speaking customers and sometimes even their English speaking bosses.  In the case of university students, the skills you are teaching them may well help them land their dream job.

Ted’s Tips™ #2: If a school is not advertising it doesn’t mean that they are not looking for a teacher.  Approach them, they might need you and not know how to find you.

Teaching Internships in China