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Can I teach English abroad if my college major wasn’t English? In this article we bust the myth that EFL teachers must come from an English major background.
You may be thinking, I’m not an English major, how can I teach EFL? In fact, EFL teachers come from all sorts of different educational backgrounds. While having a background in liberal arts may make the transition to EFL teaching smoother, there are plenty of very successful teachers who have science, math or business backgrounds, and who have used some of their unique skills to set them apart.
Here are some of the most common majors and how the skills you learn in these areas are transferrable to your career as an EFL professional:
These majors focus heavily on culture and learning how different populations interact with each other. Therefore, these skills come in handy as you adjust to living in a new country. Plus, learning how your students’ culture affects their learning styles will have a big impact on how you plan their lessons.
Business majors are typically required to give a lot of presentations. As a teacher, you are basically presenting every day. Experience with public speaking makes teaching much more comfortable. In addition, business English is a very popular course for students. Therefore, knowing all the jargon and having real experience will put you in high demand.
These majors are required to read and write a lot. So people with these majors have a good understanding of how to organize and write effectively. It’s surprising how many people lack this skill. So being a good writer and understanding the mechanics of writing well can really help you to help your students. Also, writing classes are often highly sought after by English students, and often pay very well for English teachers.
These majors are excellent problem solvers. And problem solving on the spot is a skill that every English teacher needs. While you may not be solving math problems in your class, people with these majors have developed a strong system for effectively looking at a problem and finding a good solution. Being able to look at issues from different angles and points of view will help you relate to your students and find a method of explanation that works for them. Remember: teaching is all about being adaptable.
Fine arts majors are trained to use their creativity to build amazing works of art, music, dance or theater. Creativity is an absolutely essential skill for the EFL classroom. People with these majors are usually very skilled at developing unique, fun activities. Lesson plans can really get a boost when the teacher is able to think outside the box. In addition, students will find more satisfaction from learning in an environment that is open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
These majors typically had to do lots of hands-on projects (think science fairs). They usually have a lot of great ideas for how to use an article about global warming, for example, and create extension activities and projects for their students. All of those science fair building sessions will also come in handy when relating to the more kinesthetic learners in the classroom. Teachers with this background might be more apt to get their students involved in creating their own brands, products, or prototypes as part of a larger class discussion on health care, for example.
Technology is becoming an increasingly important tool in classrooms. Computer science majors are able to use technology to make their lessons more interesting and modern. Things like linking your lesson to a relevant YouTube video, or creating a class blog where students share their creative writings are great for making your lessons relevant to the modern world in which your students live. Teachers with a background in tech are sure to stay up-to-date on all the ways in which tech can integrate into the classroom environment, and their students will love them for it.
People with backgrounds in medicine or nursing are typically compassionate which is an absolutely critical skill for the EFL classroom. Compassion for others makes you a great teacher because you can respond well to the struggles that your students are going through. You will be able to see things from different perspectives and act accordingly. A kind, thoughtful, empathetic teacher will always be loved by their students.
So you can see that no matter what your educational background is, EFL is definitely an area where you can apply many different skills. What unique skills do you have that would be useful in a classroom?