Using a TEFL Certificate to Teach English Without A Degree

Jobs teaching English as a Second Language are like snowflakes in more ways than one. Not only are no two are exactly alike but, especially in recent years, there has been quite a lot of them. Indeed, the demand for native speakers is so high – and the supply so low – that more and more developing economies are allowing would-be educations to teach English without a degree. Although a bachelor’s degree in any discipline is still obligatory for some of the ESL industry’s most popular destinations like Japan, South Korea, and Eastern Europe (and an MA in TESOL de rigeur for teaching English as a Second Language in the United States and Great Britain), a significant number of counties only require a TEFL certificate.

Several countries in Central and South America, for example, have no set qualifications standards for private English teachers. As a result, employers are left to their own discretion when it comes to establishing those standards. In cases such as this a TEFL certificate, which serves as a strong indicator of your commitment to the industry, can provide a significant advantage over the competition and help you to secure a better position.

In many developing countries in Asia, however, a TEFL certificate is obligatory if you want to teach English abroad without a degree. While the Cambodian ESL market is similar to the Central and South American ones (in that it does not require educators to have either a degree or formal certification), both Indonesia and China are quite different. Work visas in these two large – and growing! – markets are only issued to applicants who have, at minimum, a TEFL certificate. Not that this stands as much of a barrier to entry: with some online programs taking as little as two weeks you could be well on your way to an international teaching career by this time next month!

Public School Programs in Korea: Decoding the Acronyms

So you’ve decided to work in a Korean public school – congratulations! – but which of the three major programs should you choose? After all, SMOE, GEPIK, and EPIK may be as foreign to you as 한글. So here goes:

SMOE, GEPIK, and EPIK are region-based acronyms
SMOE: Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education
GEPIK: Gyeonggi English Program in Korea
EPIK: English Program in Korea

and as their full names, imply, there are significant differences between them.

SSMOE positions are concentrated in Korea’s capital, Seoul. As one of the largest cities in the world, this makes it either incredibly exciting or incredibly intimidating but, also the most desirable. Teaching English in Korea for SMOE is considerable more attractive to most than other public school positions in country.

GEPIK positions are in Gyeonggi province, the most populous province in Korea, which completely surrounds Seoul. Largely urban and suburban, it is nevertheless possible to have a rural teaching position in the extremities of the province.

EPIK positions, by contrast, cover a much wider geographic area. Because the program covers every other province in Korea besides Seoul and Gyeonggi you will want to think carefully about whether you prefer to work/live in an urban or rural location. Korea has some impressive secondary cities like Busan, Daegu, and Ulsan, but public school teachers are necessary in rural areas. If you think a smaller city or even a rural setting – and a truly Korea experience – is for you, EPIK is the program for you.

All that having been said, three programs have vastly different acceptance rates. As we indicated earlier, SMOE positions are much more competitive. Because of this, SMOE can pick and choose among its applicants and traditionally only hires people with either a year of teaching experience, or a TEFL certification. By contrast, GEPIK and EPIK will both consider recent graduates or those seeking a career change. In either case, however, their pay rates are established by experience, meaning a TEFL certification automatically translates into higher pay bracket. Of course, your soon-to-be students will appreciate it, too!

St. Mary’s College’s English Language School

Thanks to its reputation for academic excellence and, likewise, its athletic prowess, Notre Dame, Indiana is famous in the hearts and minds of many thanks to its namesake university. Not far from that storied campus, however, another school, St. Mary’s College, is quietly building a reputation for greatness in an entirely different discipline: English Immersion Education. Indeed, St. Mary’s College’s English Language School is directly across the street from Notre Dame but in many ways outshines its more famous neighbor. Founded in 1844 as an all-girls Catholic school, St. Mary’s has built its reputation on education with a personal touch and, as a result, non-native English speakers from all walks of life and all proficiency levels will benefit from the program’s intensive English language instruction.

Educational opportunities at St. Mary’s College’s English Language School are equal parts intimate and international. Due to a carefully cultivated combination of small classes and expert faculty, its classes are squarely focused on a personalized approach to student development that encourage students to improve their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. At the same time, though, its state-of-the-art language laboratories and a steady stream of cultural immersion activities ensure that students have the opportunity to polish their skills in a variety of settings. Between their 15-week Fall and Spring semesters and 4-week Summer sessions program lengths, too, can be selected to suit a student’s unique needs.

No matter when they come, though, students preparing for English language higher education will benefit the English Language School’s close relationship with the larger liberal arts college. In this way, too, St. Mary’s College’s ESL Program offers the best of both worlds by providing this unique language immersion experience while still allowing students to enjoy the school’s close proximity to Chicago. Because it is at once at the heart of Notre Dame and on the doorstep of opportunity, success begins at St. Mary’s College’s English Language School.

Learn more about St. Mary’s English Language Program here.

Most Lucrative Countries to Teach English

Over the last few decades teaching English overseas has gone from unheard-of to mainstream which has increased the attention and competition for qualified English teachers. Thanks to a scarcity of certified, experienced instructors, many employers are raising the bar on teacher compensation. Here is a quick peek at three of the most lucrative countries to teach English:

South Korea
Offering a wide array of government-funded and private school positions for students of all ages, South Korea has long been considered one of the most lucrative countries for ESL teachers. In addition to a highly competitive base salary –coming in at more than US$2000 a month it is comparable to the starting salary of many Western teachers – most ESL jobs in Korea also provide accommodations, airfare, and insurance. Those who complete their contract – typically one year – are often eligible for an additional bonus worth one month of the salary.

Taiwan, too, has long been a major player in ESL recruitment. At US$3000 or more, base salaries – and living expenses – are higher than in South Korea but employers offer fewer benefits. Although your accommodations are typically provided, teachers will have to pay out of pocket for their airfare and insurance.

ESL salaries in Dubai are much like the developing country’s skyscrapers: sky high. A recent entrant to international ESL scene, the oil-rich country places an emphasis on certified, experienced instructors – and has the money to attract them. Unlike many other countries, ESL teachers in Dubai are paid in accordance to their experience and can earn up to $4000 a month. To top it off, most positions – which have multi-year contracts – include accommodations and annual round trip airfare.

So, when you are considering where to teach English abroad, make sure to remember these three – your bank account will be glad you did!

Is a DELTA Course worth it?

For those individuals interested in getting a certificate to teach English, the decision to enroll in a DELTA course is not an easy one. After all, given the length of time the program can take (no less than two months, full-time and over a year, part-time) and its focus on teachers who are already pursuing a career in English language education (which they may have to put on hold while they pursue their DELTA certificate), the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations’ Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program is not exactly a walk in the park. Why, then, has its popularity only grown since its introduction in 1998 – and, more to the point, why should you consider it, too?

The answer, in a word, is excellence. The DELTA certification is the one of the most widely recognized and well respected ESL qualifications in the world. After all, a program famous for its rigor bestows upon its recipients a level of prestige that weekend TEFL courses (and even many longer certification courses) lack.

That is not that say a DELTA course is a perfect fit for everyone – indeed, it is best suited to experienced teachers who can apply their personal classroom experience to their coursework – but there are many benefits for those who take the plunge. From an employment standpoint, for example, it demonstrates a strong commitment to the field of English language instruction and gives recipients a strong advantage over their competition for both initial hires and promotions. Some of the more exclusive language schools require their teachers (and, naturally supervisors) to have such high level credentials. At the same time, a DELTA course can help an experienced teacher bring their classroom performance to the next level. By focusing on educational theory the DELTA can broaden a teacher’s outlook well beyond the day to day role of classroom management and in so doing will help the teacher improve their classroom performance. Finally, of course, such hard work literally does invariably pay off: teachers with a DELTA certification are eligible for considerable increases in salary.