How To Become an EFL Teacher (Duties and Salary Information)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as an EFL teacher can be a gratifying career. Aspiring EFL teachers have the option to teach students in their own country or abroad, and many have the flexibility or work remotely. Learning about the different responsibilities and requirements for this role can help you evaluate whether this career path might be right for you. In this article, we explain how to become an EFL teacher and what it takes to teach English as a foreign language, explore primary duties in this profession and give you an idea of how much you can make working in EFL teaching.

How to become an EFL teacher

Here are some basic steps that you can take and learn how to become an EFL teacher:

1. Decide if it's the right career path for you

Although working in this profession may be similar to working as a regular English teacher, some key differences make an EFL teacher's career path distinctive. Before deciding to pursue this career, you can make a list of pros and cons to help you decide. Remember the important challenges you may need to overcome, such as communicating with students who don't know a single word in English.

2. Get an undergraduate degree

Most employers in the public sector require that the candidates for EFL teachers have a Bachelor's degree. Completing your undergraduate course equips you with the necessary training and knowledge to correctly design and implement a teaching plan. If you still have some time before choosing a university, consider researching English, linguistics, modern foreign languages and education studies courses. These are some of the most popular programmes that you can choose to become an EFL teacher.

3. Find professional development programmes

Although this route is less popular, it's also possible to become an EFL teacher through professional training. Professional development programmes typically allow you to work in further education. To qualify for such a position, it's common to have a Level 5 Diploma in education and training, after which you can obtain the QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) status.

Related: How To Attain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) Certification

4. Get certified

To ensure you're qualified for the open roles that most interest you, consider getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. Some of your best options for this include the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Trinity CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). A full-time TEFL course usually takes a few weeks, and you can complete it in the UK and abroad. It's also possible to take classes and get certified through distance learning, but it typically takes longer than a stationary course.

5. Consider a master's degree

If teaching English as a foreign language is your passion and something you'd wish to do for the rest of your career, you may want to consider choosing a relevant master's degree. Postgraduate studies allow you to gain expert knowledge about best teaching practices and working with non-English speakers. You may consider finding a Master's in English language teaching or go into linguistic or modern languages studies and choose to specialise in EFL for your dissertation.

6. Learn a second language

Learning a second language can significantly improve your EFL teacher qualifications. Employers often look for EFL teachers who can easily communicate with non-English students that arrive from abroad. If you want to move to another country and teach English there, it's also useful to know at least the basics of the local language. This can help you arrange your accommodation or accounts and get to know your students better at the beginning of the academic year.

7. Apply to schools abroad

If you're thinking about changing careers to become a full-time EFL teacher, consider trying it out first. Many schools abroad look for candidates for language assistant positions, which you can apply to directly. What's interesting about opportunities of this type is that to apply, you typically only need to be a native English speaker who has completed at least two years in higher education. Some employers may also require that you know a second language to better communicate with students. To check detailed requirements and see what opportunities are available, you can visit the British Council website.

Related: 9 Common Teacher Assistant Interview Questions and Example Answers

8. Work on your skills

Constantly improving your social and professional skills is an essential element of becoming and working as an EFL teacher. In this profession, it's important that you can be compassionate, understanding and supportive. You may also consider strengthening your mentoring skills and learn how to motivate others. This can help you keep your students engaged and interested in learning for longer periods of time. One of the most important skills to have in this profession is communication. Working on how you communicate verbally and non-verbally can significantly improve your relationship with your non-English students.

Related: 14 Essential Teacher Skills

What is an EFL teacher?

EFL (English as a foreign language) teachers work with non-native English speakers and help them practise their language skills by instructing them on reading, writing and converse effectively in English. Many EFL teachers work in public education, helping children of all ages learn English. Still, it's also possible for them to move into private tuition where they work with students of all ages, including adults or seniors. Working as an EFL teacher is typically a rewarding career path for someone interested in the English language or literature and is passionate about teaching and helping others improve their linguistic skills.

Related: Guide To Writing a Compelling CV for Teaching Jobs

Primary duties of an EFL teacher

Here are some primary duties that you may have if you decide to work in EFL teaching:

  • preparing students for exams and applying for British citizenship

  • rating and reporting on your students' progress

  • creating learning resources

  • planning, preparing and delivering lessons and other linguistic activities

  • grading tests and exercises

  • getting involved in social and cultural events

  • working alongside other teachers to ensure the safety of students

  • organising individual and group activities to improve students' listening, writing, reading and speaking skills

Additional EFL teacher skills

Learning new skills can help you advance your career and increase your chances of getting a higher-paying job. These are some additional skills that you may consider learning as an EFL teacher:

Computer skills

Being proficient in using various educational software is often a huge advantage for teachers. This type of software allows them to plan lessons in a more attractive form to younger students who are more used to using computers and other devices. It's also possible to create interactive tests and check your students' knowledge that way. Comfortably using computers in teaching may also be important for you if you'd like to teach remotely.

Cultural awareness

ESL teachers who are sensitive to other nations' cultural traditions may find connecting to their non-English students easier. Understanding subtle differences between cultures is also a sign of respect that may help position yourself as a professional and engaged teacher who's committed to getting to know the students you're teaching. If you choose to live and teach abroad, your best option may be to learn about the local culture. EFL teachers who have students from many different countries may consider enrolling in an online course that explains the main differences between many cultures.

Time-management

Knowing how to manage your time effectively can be an important element of your professional success. As an EFL teacher, you may find yourself in a situation where you want to increase your income by tutoring students online in addition to working at a public facility. If you have great time-management skills, you can easily manage the two and ensure you've got enough time between classes to rest, prepare lessons, or grade tests.

EFL teacher salary

The average national salary of an EFL teacher is £28,156 per year. If teaching English is your passion and profession, another interesting option for you may be to find a part-time tutoring job that can help you create an additional income stream. The average income of an English tutor is £21.32 per hour.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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