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Can I teach English if I’m a non-native speaker? We get asked this question everyday and the answer is a resounding YES! While it’s unfortunate that some countries only accept native English speakers, the good news is, there are many online companies and countries out there without this restriction. As a matter of fact, you can use being a non-native English teacher to your advantage! Read on to learn more.
First and foremost, it’s good to recognize the assets you bring to your job as a non-native (but fluent) English teacher. Whether you come from a country where English is predominantly spoken, such as the Philippines, India, or South Africa OR you learned English as a second or even third language yourself, understand that you have an upper hand when it comes to understanding how the language works.
You are more familiar with grammar rules and terminology than native speakers. Plus, when students make a mistake, you’re more likely to understand why. Therefore, you can more easily explain their error and how to correct it! All of this makes for great teaching!
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s hop into our top tips for gaining employment as a non-native teacher.
The number one way to boost your chances of getting hired as a non-native speaker is to get TEFL certified. To prove that you’d be a great teacher to future employers, you need a TEFL certification from a reputable school.
This way, language schools can feel confident in your abilities. The certificate proves that you not only have an understanding of English, but that you know how to teach the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Just as importantly, a certificate shows that you know how to engage students with fun and educational activities to help them progress quickly in learning English!
Many companies are looking for teachers with proven TEFL experience. As a matter of fact, they often want teachers with at least 1 year’s experience. So, it’s the ole catch 22. How do you get hired to get experience if you need to have experience to be hired?!
One great way to get the experience you need is to volunteer. There are more options for volunteering than you’d think. Check out our recent post on Volunteer Opportunities You Can Start NOW!
It can be as easy as helping out a friend improve their conversational English or write a college paper. Also, there are volunteer opportunities at your local school, community center, and even online!
Companies don’t necessarily ask for this, but it doesn’t hurt to prove your fluency with a TOEFL or IELTS score. It’s proof that you are proficient in all aspects of English – reading, writing, listening and speaking.
One of the most tried and true methods for finding ANY job is to NETWORK and a great place for networking is in FaceBook Groups! Chances are, FaceBook groups are nothing new to you. You’ve probably used them to keep in touch with old school friends, explore a hobby or make friends in a new city. But have you ever considered using them to expand your network as a teacher?
Over the years our team has found that FB groups can store a wealth of information for folks entering the EFL profession. So whether you’d like to network with people teaching online or people teaching in Spain – there’s probably a group for you.
**TIP – If you’re just starting out but have a few countries of interest in mind, log on to your FB account, go to the search bar and type in a general search of “Teach English in [country]” or “TEFL Jobs in [country]”. Then scroll down and filter by “groups”. After seeing what’s offered, cycle through again with any other country that’s at the top of your list!**
Also, check out TEFLPros’ recent post on Join these TEFL FB Groups NOW To Jumpstart Your Job Search!
Finally, LinkedIn is another great resource for finding TEFL jobs and for letting TEFL jobs find you!
Finally, you can show that you speak English like a native in a video. Many online companies ask you to upload a video to introduce yourself or to demonstrate your teaching skills. This is a great way to share how you’ve come to speak English so well and to prove that you have what it takes to teach it. For tips on How to Stand Out as a Teacher With a Great INTRO Video, check out our recent post.
Until the pandemic is a little more under control, teaching online will remain a great option. Here’s the scoop on some online companies that accept non-native speakers. There’s a lot of companies to choose from. Here are a few to get you started:
Whether you’re looking to teach in Asia, Europe or the Americas, here are some of the countries where non-native speakers can legally teach, according to our friends at GoOverseas. Check out their guides to teaching in these countries. **Note** If you’re from the EU, you may be able to find a job in another EU country because schools won’t have to deal with visas. Also, if you’re from the EU you may be able to get a job in non-member countries in Eastern Europe or in the UK.
Asia : China, Thailand , Cambodia, Turkey
We hope our tips on how to find work as a non-native English teacher and info on online companies and countries that hire them has been helpful!
As always, wishing you happy teaching!