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Teaching English abroad....

What characteristics do you require to teach English abroad?
12 years ago, June 25th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #39909  

I always have the idea that when i hit south America i could teach English somewhere, a valuable experience i am sure.

The reason i ask is because i feel that i might not have the guts to do this, i also worry my English grammar might not be up to the standards required.

I wonder, in your opinions, What characteristics do you require to teach English abroad?

Thanks Reply to this

12 years ago, June 26th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #39947  
Hello Simon 😊

In some places I think the only requirement for teaching is that English is your mother tongue. I dont think the grammar of many of the English teachers would be 100% perfect. I dont think there is a need for that.

Some who want to teach English as a foreign language get a TEFL qualification. The course only takes around a week as far as I know but it costs something. That qualification would increase the chances that the teachers with it are teaching the correct grammar.

Mel Reply to this

12 years ago, June 26th 2008 No: 3 Msg: #39979  
N Posts: 5

I guess it really depnds on you mate. If you are looking for something formal in S. America you will probably need a qualification as Mel mentioned above. However, if you are prepared to wing it you could probably find yourself something casual - there are pluses and minuses with both.

As someone who has taught english abroad myself I can tell you that most people could care less about the grammar - you can learn that from a book. The whole point about learning from a 'native' is that you'll be learning conversational, natural english.

i guess it can be tricky when you start out but it can be a fun way to make mony - and meet the locals. as for qualities. well, just what you look for in a good teacher yourself..... Reply to this

12 years ago, June 26th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #40045  
It really depends on what type of teaching you want to do and where you want to do it. If you do private language tutoring it is entirely between you and the person wanting to learn how you set up your lessons and go about it. Lots of 'gap year' companies will arrange places in schools or language centres. For most of these you just need to be enthusiastic and speak good English, and everything else you just pick up as you go along. In some countries you will need to have a criminal record check before you can work with children, or if you are finding a placement through an umbrella company they will verify you are suitable to work with young people - this may not apply so much if you want to teach adults.
If you are looking for a contracted paid job then obviously the more experience and the better qualifications you have the better chance you have of securing a good job, and the better prepared you will be.
If you are interested in getting qualifications then TEFL courses are great. There are all kinds out there from weekend courses to online courses to full time residential courses. The most widely recognised ones are the ones done by Cambridge University (CELTA) and the Trinity College London (Trinity CertTESOL). The Cambridge one is the 'original' TEFL course and is accepted worldwide but is time consuming and expensive. You may feel a shorter course is more ideal, especially if you only intend to do a small amount of teaching. Reply to this

12 years ago, June 27th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #40090  
Gotta give it to AnnaAdventuring. She's right about certifications. As a native speaker I ran through the TOEFL which took only a couple of hours. It is a computer aided test (which basically means you only use the computer!). You sit in front of the machine with a headset and either get verbal questions that you answer via microphone or you have to write something.

The usual type of questions concern daily activities. I got a few questions about school-life, had to describe a conversation between two people and had to write a letter. Furthermore I had to describe my ideas about child upbringing. Since I did not know much about the subject, I can only assume the evaluators grade fluency, confidence and faultlessness of your recording.

A few weeks later I received the TOEFL-certificate and had the option to have a certified copy sent to a university of my choice.

TOEFL is good and easy. Probably it is your best bet for an English-certificate.

G. Reply to this

12 years ago, June 27th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #40092  
Oh yeah, a link: TOEFL (Test of English as a foreign language).

Addition to my previous post: In the US you can't do the TOEFL as a native speaker. I did it in Egypt and got the same certificate (it is issued in the US). Reply to this

12 years ago, June 27th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #40100  
I think there is a little confusion here between a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate and the TOEFL. The TOEFL is a test for non-native speakers to assess their English ability. It's usually used for them to get into University in the USA. The TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificates are for native speakers who want to teach English to foreigners.

Otherwise I agree with AnnaAdventuring and Mell. If you are planning to get a contracted job teaching English and do it for a long period, as a way of earning money, then do a TEFL course. It will open doors to the better jobs and provide useful lessons in methodology, lesson planning and types of lessons, as well as training in grammar. And if that is your purpose, then a 120 hour course with at least 6 hours of observed teaching practice is the best kind. It's more widely accepted all over the world than online or weekend courses. Also we found that the teaching practice was one of the best parts. You can get all the theory in the world, but there is nothing like standing in front of a class of students and putting what you have learned into practice.

However, if your aim is to spend more time living in a country, meet some local people and have a valuable experience then a certificate may not be required, just enthusiasm, friendliness and creativity.

If you don't mind not being paid then check out:


It is a list of organisations in South America where it's free to volunteer. That way you bypass the placement/gap year companies who are taking a big cut of the money you pay.

As for grammar, you can teach it to yourself, there are plenty of websites teaching English grammar. Try googling it.

For more information on teaching in South America, here is the website of a woman who teaches in Peru. She has lots of advice on teaching in South America.


Hope it helps!


Reply to this

12 years ago, June 30th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #40395  
B Posts: 71
I currently live in Rio de Janeiro and teach english. I have no experience and my grammar knowledge was practically non-existant but Im here doing it, all it takes is the determination.. if you really want to do it, you can.
As far as credentials are concerned, I got a simple TEFL certificate which cost me around (AU)$600 and took two days to do over the weekend. It was very easy and gave me the certificate I needed. Although when I got here I found a job and they didnt even ask if I had certification, I´m a native speaker and thats all that mattered (Although since I have that certification, I get paid a little more)

Grammar is important. You have to know what you´re teaching. However when I got to Brazil, I wouldntve been able to tell you the difference between a verb and a noun, but I learnt. Do some study because at some stage you will have to explain the difference between past perfect and past continuous. If you cant, you´ll look pretty silly. However, you´re a native speaker, you know grammar even if you dont know you know, you just have to learn how to explain it properly. After you start looking into it, its actually quite easy.

The most important thing is, you´re a native speaker and just that alone is a valuable asset. I have been given more opportunities than some Brazilian english teachers who have 20 years of experience just because Im a native speaker. People want to learn from a native for obvious reasons so you´ll be in hot demand.

If you happen to fin yourself in Rio looking for work, drop me a line and I can help you more.

Good luck! Reply to this

12 years ago, June 30th 2008 No: 9 Msg: #40403  
For those who are not adverse to some dishonesty, I have a couple of friends who faked their TEFL certificates with a little whiting out, photocoping one with blanks, typing in new details and photocopying again. One of my friends had a real certificate and the others faked theirs using hers. Reply to this

12 years ago, July 1st 2008 No: 10 Msg: #40519  

I recently heard from my buddy that as long as a person has their University degree, they can teach English anywhere. He also told me that in some countries, they would pay around 2000 dollas for a month of teaching and living expenses are dirt cheap. Do you guys think it would be a good idea to teach in either Central or South America to make money for traveling in the region?? And what websites can I do the research on this topic??

Teaching English in Central America

Teaching English in South America.
Reply to this

12 years ago, July 10th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #41550  
B Posts: 6

I am an English teacher, living in Buenos Aires. I have skimmed through this blog a couple of times and I think it throughly answers the questions. The only detail I can think of that might help job searching is timing. During the summer months (Dec. to Feb.,) everyone goes on vacation and the demand for teachers goes down. I was hired in March and thought even that was a bit early because I didn't get many hours until April and by May or June they are practically begging for teachers.

Also, my boyfriend put he was certified on his resume and institutes didn't think twice about it. The most important interview tactic is to sell yourself and have a lot of personality. Have an enthusiastic response to, "why do you want to teach English?" The institutes want to keep their clients and aren't going to hire teachers who can't retain a class. If you are nervous about grammar questions (yes, they happen, but the native Argentines down here usually do a good job with grammar points,) you can study online. I recommend

www.daveseslcafe.com and www.esl.about.com OR

just explain that you are here to help them focus on speaking fluency and listening until you can study up for the answer. Teaching involves a great deal of acting! Most of the time, native English speakers get the advanced students who, honestly, know more English grammar than is good for them. You should definitely take advantage of the opportunity and at least give it a try. Its not for everyone, but I love the work and have learned so much in return from my students.

As far as pay, I have been in Bs As for 5 months now and am just starting to get hot on the trail to some excellent paying teacher positions. Now, that I am leaving soon, of course! Yes, the high pay exists, but it took me awhile to discover them. Some of my colleagues found salaried positions, they too, had impeccable grammar, experience with teaching and working abroad. They are serious about making a life in the city, while I took a more lenient job that allows for my monthly absences for travel. There's a trade off for everything, so your call on how serious you want to work vs. travel.

Good luck!
Reply to this

12 years ago, September 22nd 2008 No: 12 Msg: #49518  
I would advise you to try TEFL/TESOL/CELTA in a different country, it's almost like a holiday. Living in some countries in Europe is cheaper, usually easier. You can meet different people and cultures, have some valuable experiences, travel a lot and enjoy yourself.
If you need any information about learning to teach in Hungary, in the heart of Europe, you can find some on this website: http://www.via-lingua.hu/
Most institutions like experience with teaching and working abroad, so before you start working in America, teaching abroad might be a good point.
Good luck! Reply to this

12 years ago, October 6th 2008 No: 13 Msg: #50897  
Hi guys!

I am looking for an English Teaching Job in Ontario, Canada. Maybe you could help me. I've been trying for weeks now to apply on-line but the sites that I chanced upon doesn't process my application since I am outside Canada.

If you know of any schools in Ontario or nearby in Canada that accepts a foreign applicant, please notify me. Thank you very much! I live in the Philippines, by the way!

Have a great day! Reply to this

12 years ago, November 20th 2008 No: 14 Msg: #55164  
Hi, thanks everyone for the detailed info on teaching certification and forgery. I've taught high school English in China, and I'm looking to teach English (or any other subject) in preferably BsAs or Rio. Most people in this forum have suggested that I look when I get to town. I'm trying to avoid unnecessary monetary risk by setting up as much as possible before flying out. Is this possible?

Are there any programs that I can apply for that would cover the cost of living? Reply to this

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