Developing your Qualifications to Land an English Teaching Job
Having a teaching certificate will definitely increase your chances of getting hired.
At the very least, it puts you in a more competitive position in the applicant pool. Having a TEFL (Teacher of English as a Foreign Language) or RSA (Royal Society of Arts) certificate should also give you a certain amount of confidence. Knowing that you are formally qualified will let you rest assured that you have much of what it takes to find a good teaching job just about any place in Eastern Europe.
Because of Britain’s proximity to the European continent, more employers will recognize RSA certification than the American equivalents. Though this should not necessarily dissuade you from pursuing certification in the United States, you may want to consider taking the six-week RSA course in Europe, if that option is available to you. There are also a growing number of United States certification programs that offer the RSA.
The schools listed in the following section offer short-term TEFL training courses. If you are not able to attend one of these courses before you go, there are schools in Eastern Europe that offer teacher training courses. If getting a certificate is not an option, you can prepare yourself in other valuable ways for your overseas teaching adventure. The following activities will increase your chances of getting hired:
- Advertise your services as an English tutor for international students. Contact the TEFL program or the organization of international students at your local university or college. Or simply put up a flier in the international student lounge.
- Volunteer with a foreign-exchange program or a refugee organization in your community. Make sure to find a tutoring position that does not require a lengthy time commitment. Many of these organizations and programs welcome volunteers for conversational sessions with TEFL students.
- Review several TEFL course books before you leave, and use them to familiarize yourself with the various methods of English-language instruction. When you interview with prospective employers, you will be able to demonstrate some valuable knowledge. If you are serious about landing a job, you might design your own sample lessons to show your interviewer. See the In the Classroom part of this site for more teacher preparation tips.
- Request an informational interview with the director of an EFL program (or even an EFL teacher) here in North America. Find out what they look for in a teacher and what the teaching jobs overseas actually entail. This way you will at least be prepared for your interviews once you arrive in Eastern Europe.
- If you have ever studied a foreign language, include that in your resume. Your own experience should qualify you to attest to what makes a language teacher effective. If the language is German, Hungarian, or Slavic, you might find that you can share some words with your prospective employer, which is usually a plus in the eyes of another linguist.
- Think creatively about your skills and past experience. Does any of it relate to the demands of teaching? If you have given public presentations, acted, or otherwise shown off in front of audiences, you will likely have the gumption to stand up in front of a classroom full of students. Evidence of solid communication skills and of an ability to hold your own before an audience is all good gravy in the eyes of a hungry employer.