Teaching English abroad isn’t just a great opportunity to get paid to travel – TEFL can also be a valuable way to boost communication, leadership and interpersonal skills, making teaching English as a foreign language an astute career move for those having difficulties finding work in today’s highly competitive jobs market.
In a survey of employers by the Association of Graduate Recruiters, 55% felt that graduates lack soft skills, such as communication and leadership skills. A stint teaching English abroad can change all that though: TEFL teachers who successfully bridge language and cultural barriers in the classroom in order to teach their students can certainly prove that their communication and interpersonal skills are up to scratch. While standing in front of large classes of students (often rowdy kids!) every day and keeping control boosts leadership and presentation skills.
Chris Cockcroft, 25, who taught English in South Korea for a year after graduating from university in Leeds, said: “The most important skill I gained while teaching English abroad was the ability to think quickly and not panic. Teaching English is different every day, so it teaches you to organise and prioritise your workloads and be ready for anything.
“It also gives you a great deal of confidence in dealing with all manner of people no matter what language they speak, and the international experience never fails to impress potential employers.”
What’s more, teaching English abroad is the perfect opportunity to learn a new language, another useful addition to any CV. TEFL teachers often take part in ‘language swaps’, where they offer private English tuition in return for lessons in the language of the country in which they’re teaching. Mike Sciola, director of the career resource centre at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, said: “Getting fluent in another language, particularly Chinese or Spanish, but even now Hebrew or Arabic, gives you a distinct advantage.” Fortuitously, many TEFL jobs are in China and South America, making learning Chinese or Spanish a realistic possibility.
Now is also the perfect time to take the plunge and start teaching English abroad. According to Charles Ball, research director at the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, the graduate jobs market in the UK will not fully recover until 2013. So, those who choose to boost their CV by teaching English as a foreign language for a year or two can do so in the knowledge that they’re not missing out on a wealth of opportunities at home.
Those wanting to get TEFL qualified and start teaching abroad should speak to one of i-to-i’s TEFL advisors on 0800 093 2552 or visit http://www.onlinetefl.com/.