TEFL for people who are not the stereotype…

If you don’t fit in the box most schools want to put you in, this video will help you see your options. Read the DRAFT (not finished yet!) transcript below:

This is another short segment intended to help you realize that there are good jobs out there for you and that you have great possibilities even if you’re “too old” or if you don’t have a degree and have facial piercings and tattoos – if you are just NOT the typical stereotype of the fresh young English teacher that supposed to come from the USA, UK, Australia Canada.  There is a place for you even if you are not the young cheerleader type with blue eyes and blonde hair that the language school used to put on the poster out in front of the school.

The school wanted that picture out front advertising to parents, who are the customers of the language schools, to prove they had real “native speakers”.  That stereotype took a long time to die and still exists in some countries, but these days schools and students/customers/parents know that it takes skill to teach – not just fitting a stereotype.

You’ll find some countries more rigid that others, but with a bit of planning you can work your way around these obstacles.  For example, if you are over 60, China won’t work for you, but Vietnam is great.  What you need to do first – anywhere – is get your foot in the door. Get hired anywhere you can and once you have your feet on the ground and a bit of experience, it is quite easy to branch out a bit and specialize in an area where you may have some skill or experience.

I’m going to encourage you a bit, the first time I worked in Korea starting 1992, it was a pretty rigid and backwards place, but the second time I taught in Korea starting in 2003, things had really opened up. There were Chinese Canadians, black and gay people, people with piercings and tattoos.  Things were really turning around.  As a result, they were getting better and better teachers.

In the initial process, if you’ve got the facial piercings or finding other reasons why schools are not offering you a contract, I suggest you consider interview in person in the country you want to go to.  Later in this course we discuss the advantages of interviewing in country versus online, but know that it offers you a real advantage. You are there and on the scene, you can start to tomorrow.  A school prefers that option to someone on the other side of the world who MIGHT show up in 3-4 weeks, all while they struggle to staff classes because they are short a teacher.  

Don’t do just do a passive job search. Some people don’t think of TEFL as a real occupation. It is a real job and you need to adjust your thinking just a little bit and and work just as hard for one of these jobs even harder than you would in your own country.  If you show up in flip-flops for an interview or if you do a telephone interview without combing your hair or grooming yourself the school will make certain assumptions about you.

You just need to pay attention to make sure your resume looks sharp with a good photo to go with it. I will talk about that much more in detail about CVs and resumes in a later video.

BTW, I’m over 60 and right now if I needed a job I would have difficulty landing a job in many countries. But I would go straight to Vietnam if I was starting out, because that’s a very easy place to get started.  Some countries will require a degree, but sometimes not everywhere. Sometimes local provinces will have different rules in that country. Rural areas are often given much more flexibility as most teachers want to teach in the big cities and these schools have difficulty finding teachers who meet the national requirements.  

I want to encourage you to not be discouraged. To know that you can find your way around these rules and now we’ll get on with the process.  Go on to the next video


Semi-retired EFL teacher/teacher-trainer working and living abroad since 1989 in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.