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How to gain teaching experience

May 7, 2012

When I decided to take the plunge and get certified to teach English abroad, it was all new to me. Sure, I had a degree in English and a pretty good command of grammar, but what did I know about teaching? I signed up for an onsite TEFL course and got some practice teaching under my belt, but I wanted more. What I was looking for was hands-on experience– something to put on my resume to set me apart from other newbies, and help me land a job abroad! Sound familiar? For many who enter the TEFL field, be they recent college grads, career changers or even retirees, this may be their first real experience in front of a class. What’s more, those who have gotten certified online likely didn’t complete a teaching practicum at all, so they, especially, need the extra resume boost of teaching experience.

So how can you get teaching experience before you land your first job? I’ve got three suggestions for doing just that:

1. Volunteer teach. Within your community there are many opportunities to teach English as a second language, and by volunteering, you’ll not only benefit yourself but help others along the way. Refugee centers, immigrant service organizations, local churches, and public schools are all places where English teachers are needed. Before I went to Costa Rica to job search, I approached a local high school and asked if the ESL teacher needed a classroom assistant. She did, and I spent a few months working alongside her, which boosted my confidence and my resume!

2.  Do some private tutoring. One-on-one tutoring is a great way to practice your TEFL skills and add a “job” to your teaching resume. There are many ways to do it, and they’re all valuable. Craigslist is one place you can post an ad, or you could put up flyers in places like libraries or grocery stores to recruit students. If you aren’t yet comfortable charging for your services, offer free tutoring. You could even advertise a language interchange to improve your skills as well as your partner’s.

3. Teach English online. This growing field provides a wealth of opportunity to gain experience as a TEFL tutor. Some positions, such as the one we profiled in a recent interview with Matt Inghram, do not require previous experience, and most have flexible schedules, too. I taught online and loved the fact that I could do it from anywhere in the world. I started in the U.S., and continued tutoring in Morocco, to supplement my teaching income. I even supported myself with my online tutoring job while volunteering on a donkey ranch in Spain! Some online tutoring companies you can check out are:,

So are you ready to make the move from TEFL newbie to seasoned professional? Teaching experience is within in reach for everyone, and I encourage you to get out there, get some experience, and get the best jobs abroad!

by Jennifer Collis. She is from Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida with bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology. After some time working in the field of social work, she gave in to wanderlust and became TEFL certified, going on to teach in Costa Rica and Morocco. She also enjoys volunteering, and has worked with high school students in San Francisco, foster kids in Costa Rica, and rescue donkeys in Spain. She is now a program advisor at Bridge TEFL.


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One Comment
  1. Tanya permalink

    If I could go back I would have started here on day one:

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