Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Travel the world and get paid - Meet TEFL

What’s TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. With over 1 billion English learners worldwide it’s a growing industry and many graduates are now doing it as a way to get paid and travel at the same time.

Where can I go?
If you have a degree, you can TEFL in most countries – but, of course, there is a higher demand for English teachers in some areas than others. Popular options for those with no previous teaching experience include Thailand, South Korea, China and Spain.

Who’s this handsome fella?
Ryan is a Lancaster University student who spent 10 months teaching English, travelling (and getting paid) in China. He’ll tell you what TEFL is really all about!

So Ryan…What inspired you to TEFL?
I was in my last year at University when the travel bug bit me. But, like lots of students in their final year, my piggy bank wasn’t exactly filled with money. I started to think if only there was a way for me to get paid for my gap year. Then I came across i-to-i!

Why China?
Ever since I was young I’ve been fascinated by Chinese culture and their way of life. Also, the demand for English teachers in China is huge and it was really easy to find a job as soon I’d graduated and done my TEFL course.

How did you actually find your TEFL job?
After I got my TEFL certificate, I applied for several jobs all over China. Before I knew it I had a set of interviews lined up, which took place over Skype. I finally decided to accept a six month job contract in Tianjin, which is a quite a big city just south of Beijing.

What were the Chinese students like?
In China, getting a good education is really, really important! This meant that most of my students were very willing to learn – lots of them even watch English TV or read English books in their free time.

Tell us a funny story about your time in China...
One really hot day, I took a bunch of my students out to the park for a practical English lesson. When we were out there we saw a load of monkeys hanging out and relaxing in the trees. I LOVE monkeys so I tried to climb the tree and pet them…well, the next thing that happened was crazy..the monkeys went totally mad and started chasing me (and my students). There were about 10 of them and they kept trying to grab us as we ran screaming away! Thankfully, we escaped but for the rest of the year the students used to draw pictures of monkeys or write stories about monkeys every chance that they got!

How much do you get paid?
In China, most people earn about $1000 a month. Saying that, China is really cheap compared to England. If you still want to earn more, then head to South Korea or Japan. Lots of my friends did a second year teaching there!

How did your time in China change you?
I think my time in China has made me see the world differently, and I’m much more open-minded since coming back. I’ve done things, seen things and eaten things that I never would have done otherwise! Not to mention, teaching children has also taught me what kind of parent I do - or rather don’t - want to be!

What advice would you give to somebody thinking about TEFL?
I’d say - go for it. Loads of people say to me that they’d love to do what I’ve done... then go out and do it! You’ll have a great time, and because you’re working whilst you’re over there you don’t have to be a millionaire. Hopefully you won’t get chased by any monkeys either!

If you want more information on taking a gap year and other volunteering opportunities why not visit our gap year pages.