You know those people who like to plan out their entire lives? The ones who seem to have everything figured out? Well, a lot of people will tell you that I fit that description quite perfectly. I will neither confirm nor deny it, but I will say that I started looking at grad schools over a year before applications were opened. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that I would have a plan for when I got TEFL certified. And what a plan it was! I was going to travel and teach over the breaks in the school year and teach at a local EFL school near my university. Part-time, of course, because school is important. It was a perfect plan, and I was really excited about it. But plans change, and that plan of mine never happened. So, what have I been doing all this time?
Well, I will say that it took some thinking, but thankfully my TEFL certification stayed the same. A lot of bigger cities have EFL centers for international people living in the area. Generally, students can range from young learners to older adults. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any open positions in the ones near me. But rather than go out looking for other avenues of teaching, I started looking for other jobs. I had this idea that a job had to have a specific location outside of where you live. I went to interviews and even got a few offers. When I really thought about it, though, I didn’t want those jobs. While they sounded good, the thought of working at those places was not exciting. They were all distant from people, and you never would really ever see the results of your work. It was just something that I didn’t want. I wanted to be able to see the outcome from my work. I thought back to watching and interacting with the students we worked with during the Destination TEFL, and I remembered how much fun it was to work with them. It was a joy to see them understand and learn something new. And with that in mind, I started looking for teaching positions online.
After two weeks of searching and applying for EFL positions online, I finally got an offer, and I took it. It was a bit nerve-wracking, especially since I had no idea what teaching materials I might need or what equipment I would need to buy. Fun fact: A lot of online teaching positions like you to have really good lighting (even if you start teaching before the sun comes up). But as soon as I started, I knew that I had made the right choice for me. I have been teaching online since then, and it is a job that I genuinely enjoy. While you don’t get to work with your student face-to-face, you still get to see then understand something new and their language ability grow. In some ways, I think I work harder at my teaching because I want my students to have a similar experience to a traditional classroom. I have had some jobs throughout my life, and this is one of the few that I can say is actually rewarding. My students are lovely, and there are challenges, but it is so worth it. And as a student myself, the hours are based on my schedule which is helpful beyond words. What that means for me is that I might have to get up early in the morning and then have the rest of the day for school, homework, or whatever else I want to do. If I want to hang out and bake cookies or go to a museum with friends or even go for a walk around the park on a nice day, I can actually do that without having to worry about working during most of the day.
So, for anyone looking to become an EFL teacher, or maybe you just got certified and are wondering what to do now, just remember to have an open mind! You might find the perfect position for you right away. But you might not, and that is okay. The perfect EFL job for you might not be what you think it is. And who knows! You might find that your dream of teaching face-to-face might just have to wait while you discover the awesomeness that is online EFL teaching!