As if it’s not enough to have so many choices of TEFL courses and dozens of countries to teach in, you also have to consider which type of teaching you want to do. It’ll help you narrow down your options, actually, if you decide which type of student you’ll feel most comfortable with. Some countries only offer certain types of classes. Which one of the following suits you best?
Adult classes are 17+, and can be in groups of 8-20 students per lesson. One reason TEFL teachers like teaching adults is that you can use what students already know and the format opens itself to mature topics. The downside to teaching adults is that they ‘already know everything,’ are usually highly qualified professionals in their own respective fields and they have a hard time taking lessons from anyone. These courses are popular in most countries.
The teens courses are usually divided into school year and summer school. The school year can also be halved by need: students that need general English education and those that need intensive English programs for entrance exams for university. The plus side of teaching teens is that they can be creative and involved in the lessons, which can really motivate the teacher. The minuses? They’re teens. That means hormones, blasé attitudes, posturing, cliques and the worst of the worst of high school behavior. Teen teachers are in high demand in Europe and Latin America.
Teaching children English can be one of the more rewarding posts you take as a TEFL teacher. Their learning curve is steep, which means you see nearly instant progress. They’re sponges. The problem with teaching children can be the age groups and the class sizes. Teaching 3+-5-year-olds can be trying because of the short attention spans and the lack of skills in their own language. Class sizes for children can be 15+ students, which means you spend more time managing the children than you do actually teaching. Popular in most countries, more so now in Asian sectors.
Either for fluency or advanced English studies (including literature), teachers of university students tend to like the nuances and grammatical aspects of English. The classroom sizes are almost always large, which gives less time to the students for practical application. Most universities also require teachers to supply the syllabus for the year and all testing (writing/grading), which can be time-consuming outside of the classroom. Asian countries are particularly keen on hiring foreign university teachers.
These can range from topics (business, medicine, law) to accents (American English, Australian, British). One-to-one teaching is another possibility. If you have an area of expertise, more likely than not you can find a wanted ad for a TEFL teacher that will be perfect for you.
As an American TEFL teacher, you have many choices available on what type of teaching you want to do and which type of student you want to teach. Once you decide on the area that works best for you, you can start streamlining your approach to match both the lessons and the classes for seamless- and enjoyable- teaching.