If you are curious about other cultures and eager for a challenge, obtaining a TESOL certificate (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) might be your ticket to travel. Many countries around the world are looking for qualified, creative, and articulate English teachers to instruct students of all ages and backgrounds in the proper use of the English language.
In the past little was required of English teachers abroad other than a command of the English language, but school administrators have come to realize that teaching is both an art and a learned discipline, relying on creativity, structure, planning, empathy, and organization. Most institutions abroad require TESOL certificates, which was the case in my travels to Japan and Korea, and those who don’t require TESOL certification are more likely to hire someone with this tangible recognition and testament to instructional training and skill.
People who train for a TESOL certificate are a diverse group. Though most are college students or recent college graduates, many are retirees, people changing careers at mid-life, or teachers eager to travel and experience other cultures. Some see it as a way to add to their resume, while others see it as a way to broaden their horizons and benefit from new and challenging experiences. Having a TESOL certificate can open many doors, from gaining a more worldly perspective to establishing a stronger foundation for a future career in instruction, leadership, or management.
Many people seeking a TESOL Certificate worry that they will have to learn the language of the country where they will be teaching. Knowing another language is not a requirement since most foreign countries prefer an immersion-style approach to the learning of English. This may be in part because qualified bilingual English teachers are difficult to find, but also because a typical class of ESL (English as a Second Language) students may speak several different languages or dialects. A TESOL certified instructor need know only English, but must be able to gear instruction to non-English speaking students in a clear, creative, and supportive way using methodology and approaches learned in a TESOL certification program.
Though the majority of TESOL certified instructors choose to work overseas in elementary and secondary education, or business or community centers, some prefer to teach English in the United States. These instructors often find work at private or charter schools or in church, non-profit, or community education run ESL programs. Some teachers with TESOL certificates choose to work independently, setting up their own ESL workshops, seminars, or schools.
The benefits of a TESOL certificate are many and varied. The opportunity to travel and immerse yourself in other cultures while helping learners in other countries to become accomplished English speakers can be so rewarding. Enhancing your resume, as well as your work and life experience, can enrich your life and increase future career choices. Whether you plan to teach English abroad or within your own country, a TESOL certificate will make you an infinitely more attractive candidate.