Since the introduction of the computer and internet in the late 20th century, opportunities for e-learning have evolved exponentially. In the 1990s, online courses started to pop up and it became apparent that a new and convenient way of learning had been born. It was at the beginning of the new century, however, that companies began to take advantage of this method to provide professional development for their employees. Since the beginning of 2020, online learning has been a lifeline for learners and educators worldwide, despite its challenges.
Nowadays, the internet is an integral part of modern society not just for learning, but also for providing endless opportunities of income. More and more people are trying to break from their daily rut and conjure up more flexible and convenient ways to earn a living, whether it be a side hustle or a full-time gig. This has allowed many people to reinvent themselves as ‘digital nomads’ – taking advantage of telecommunications technologies to earn from anywhere in the world.
While online gambling might be too risky for most, there are plenty of other ways to make money while on the move. As English has become the common language for international social and economic interaction, one of the most popular money-earning choices is teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). The main reason why this option can be interesting for digital nomads is that it can take place either online or face-to-face – or both! Other positive aspects of this job – that can certainly turn into a career – are its flexibility and the chance to broaden horizons.
In terms of flexibility, not only does TEFL allow you to work from anywhere, but it also gives you the freedom to decide how much or how little you want to work. What’s more, your schedule can be designed around your other commitments. There’s also the option of working for online schools or going freelance, depending on your preference and skills.
You could teach English in pretty much any country (Thailand, Mexico, Spain) that takes your fancy. Wherever you go, it can be a fulfilling experience. But broadening horizons does not need to happen abroad. Teaching online means that international connections are made via the internet. Behind those screens there are people from different cultures and backgrounds – there’s so much to learn from them about the world!
Pretty much anyone who has a near-native level of English can get into TEFL and teach online while travelling the world, or sitting comfortably on their sofa. So, what are the requirements? Contrary to common beliefs, being a native speaker is not necessary to teach English to speakers of other languages, and lack of university qualifications is not necessarily a deal-breaker. What is extremely useful, though, is obtaining a TEFL certificate from an accredited course provider.
Successfully completing a TEFL course has two purposes:
- at face value, it shows your future employers and/or students that you are a knowledgeable and dedicated professional. The demand for TEFL teachers is high, but competition can be stiff, depending on the country or institution you choose. Having a TEFL qualification will definitely give you an advantage on other candidates;
- it gives you the foundations for a smooth introduction to teaching. During a TEFL course you will learn about classroom management, lesson planning, teaching materials, and about the mechanics of the English language. There will be a lot more to learn during your teaching journey, but a TEFL course is a good start.
But TEFL is not just a job in itself. With plenty of (online) professional development opportunities, and with a certain amount of classroom experience, teaching English as a foreing language can offer many career choices, from teaching a specific TEFL field (young learners, exam preparation, business English etc) to becoming a teacher trainer. If you don’t fancy teaching for a long period of time, you could consider pursuing a management position or a role as a materials writer/editor within the TEFL industry.
As the current global situation has truly immersed the world into an e-learning era, making the most of technology to earn some money while gaining some work-life balance seems to be the phenomenon of this decade. If getting involved in teaching English as a foreign language sounds appealing, a TEFL qualification can certainly open doors.
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