Hundreds of thousands of native English speakers with no prior teaching experience begin TEFL jobs around the world every single year. You do not need to worry about speaking a different language as English will be the only language spoken in all of your classes. As the English language is your mother tongue, you are already halfway there to becoming a native English speaker teacher.
A small percentage of new ESL teachers have no certification and end up getting hired illegally (‘under the table’) which offers them no job security and instead gives them a worryingly high risk of deportation or substantial fines. This may seem a risk worth taking if you are a backpacker just travelling through that country for a few weeks, but please do think of the substantial sums of money the students and their parents are spending on the English tuition. If you want to be good at your job and have any interest in teaching for more than a couple of weeks then it is only fair to be prepared by studying beforehand.
The vast majority of ESL teachers possess TEFL certificates, having spent the previous few weeks studying how to teach English. Trustworthy, decent employers will demand that all of their English teachers possess a TEFL certificate. Even if you have taught students before in an informal context, without a TEFL certificate you probably won’t ever see a genuine teaching employment contract.
There are many options open for would-be teachers to enroll on a short TEFL course – such courses can be completed either online or at a language centre or university ESL department in a nearby city. Once armed with a TEFL certificate from a reputable course provider, he or she is ready to begin the fantastic adventure of teaching English overseas.
Above and beyond the issue of deportation and fines, there are several crucial additional reasons why a TEFL course is more or less vital. Firstly, you will learn about teaching methodology, terminology, classroom management and lesson planning. Secondly, you will be given invaluable advice by experienced course instructors throughout.
More importantly, you will actually give lessons as part of your teaching practice modules. This will probably make you nervous at the beginning, but it will prepare you well for the ‘real thing’ when you begin your job overseas. Without that practice experience, just imagine walking into a classroom full of new students just a day or two after having arrived in a new country. It is likely to leave even the most confident a little worried to say the least.
If you study with others, you will also be able to form a small network of ESL teachers all of whom are about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime in different countries. Make sure you make a note of everybody’s contact details so that you can stay in touch online and update each other on your progress and offer tips and suggestions to people you are already familiar with.