First of all, let us narrow down which countries are usually considered native English speaking countries:
– United States
– The United Kingdom and Ireland
– Australia and New Zealand
– South Africa
Unfortunately, there are countries where English is one of the official languages, but in the world of ESL, they do not count as native English speaking countries because of the variety of accents. Examples are India, the Philippines and quite a lot of African and Caribbean countries.
If you think that TEFL is not for you because you are a non-native speaker, we can confidently say ‘Not true, drop the idea, plenty of opportunities’! Yes, your options are more limited and you will need to demonstrate that you possess a high level of English, but no need to hold back from teaching English abroad. Remember that the demand for teachers worldwide is massive, so if you possess a high, near-native level of English, schools will be happy to hire you and many will even be happy to have some diversity in their teaching staff.
Besides, you’ve studied the language; been there, done that. You know exactly what your students are struggling with, which might be an advantage in connecting with them. You have a lot to offer! And, believe it or not, you might even know more about English grammar than an average native speaker of English as you’ve had to learn it yourself.
Of course, native speakers do have a leg up, so here’s what you can do to be equally attractive to a future employer:
Get TEFL Certified
Native speaker or not, your first step will always be to get TEFL certified. Choose an accredited TEFL course that meets or exceeds the international standards for TEFL certification, otherwise, it’s money wasted.
With the help of your TEFL trainer, you will polish and ‘TEFL-ize’ your resume, which will help to attract the right employers.
Get your degree
Just like with any job in the world, having further credentials such as a bachelor’s degree will increase your chances of getting hired and will make you eligible for a wider range of jobs.
Teach, tutor or coach
See if you can get some paid or unpaid teaching, tutoring or coaching experience. Teaching ESL would of course be ideal. This doesn’t have to be abroad, there’s lots of things to do in your home country that will help you to boost your teacher resume!
TOEFL or IELTS
If you have done the TOEFL or IELTS test (and obviously got a high score), this is a great way to convince your employer of your English ability.
Get on the phone or Skype
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your level of English is to speak to your potential employer directly over the phone or Skype. This is a great chance to show that your language skills are adequate for the position.
Skip ‘native only’ vacancies
Don’t waste your energy on applying for jobs that explicitly ask for native English speakers.
Choose your destination wisely
Some countries are more ‘non-native friendly’ than others. Asia, Thailand, India, Cambodia and China are your best options.
Latin-American countries are often quite welcoming to non-native speakers of English. ESL teachers from all over the world find employment in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala Mexico and Peru.
European citizens who want to teach English in Europe can easily find jobs as they can work freely throughout the EU, though fluent speakers from other non-native parts of the world might have more difficulties finding employment here. Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey are good options for non-native English speakers looking to work in Europe, although in Turkey, you need a four-year degree to apply for a work visa.
The world’s most lucrative markets for ESL teachers, like Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and UAE, are usually limited to native English speakers.