T Nation

Anyone Ever Done a TEFL Course?


Hi, I was just wondering if any of you guys might be able to give me an insight into doing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.

Basically, I graduated from University here in the UK a couple of years ago, and have kind of just bounced around from temp job to temp job, without any real direction. I was trying for the whole 'graduate' route but it never really worked out for me.

I've decided to use the fact that I left my last job (trainee stockbroker) as an opportunity to re-assess things a little. I figure that instead of doing crappy temp jobs over here where it's cold and wet, I might as well do a TEFL course and go to somewhere in Asia or maybe Latin America and get a bit of life experience, see a different part of the world, perhaps learn a new language. It might also help me reflect on what I really want to do with my future, as I guess I haven't always had much direction.

I'd really just be interested to hear from anyone who has done something similar, and how you found living in a different culture, the teaching environment, etc.



I'm signed up to get TEFL certification in June. I plan to move to Italy for a few years and teach.

I have friends who have done this and had an amazing time. But you can forget buying anything from Biotest and drop your bodybuidling habit, cause they don't pay jack shit! I'll be so skinny when I return to California in a few years.

They pay well in Japan, Korea, and China, but I can't imagine myself having a good time in any of those countries. Not being able to speak the language would suck, especially if its something difficult to learn like any asian language.

You'd be better of in a spanish speaking country...its really easy to learn. Otherwise, you will be isolated if you can't at least have a hint of what everyone around you is talking about!

In any case, it will expand your mind to new ways of thinking and make you a better person and more aware of yourself. I know this through time studying abroad, not teaching abroad... but its a similar experience I'd imagine.


I can't help you directly, but if you're interested in teaching English abroad, I've heard great things about the JET program (Japanese Exchange Teaching, or something like that).

It's true that you won't be able to speak the language at first, and Asian languages do tend to be hard to pick up. But you'd be surprised at how many people there understand English. Just stick to the urban, more populated/educated areas.




TOEFL = Test Of English as a Foreign Language

TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language

He seems to have a pretty good grasp of English, and wants to teach English, so I imagine he won't need to take the TOEFL.

To your credit, I had to check it up too when he first mentioned it. I had only ever heard of TOEFL before, since I live in America and all that.


hey, i did as tefl at the end of my uni course and left manchester to go to china, i planned on spending half a year there and instead stayed for four and a half years, if you are reasonably intelligent then a tefl or tesol course won;t be a problem - f you can make a class of people laugh and enjoy a lesson then the whole world is your oyster. what happens next depends on which country you decide to go to.

china is amazing but its the other side of the looking glass compared to good ol' blighty, japan, thailand and korea are totally different re: what kind of lifestyle you want to lead.


Thanks a lot for the responses guys, most appreciated.

Good point the german about not really being able to understand people in Asian countries (kind of obvious, I know!) but I think that's something I should take into consideration: before I was just thinking about experiencing a completely different culture in Asia, as opposed to a pretty different one in S.A. At least I might be able to remember some of my Spanish from school.

Ideally, I'd like to go somewhere that pays enough for me to buy supps and essentials (or are my supps the essentials?) and have a bit left over for an ok lifestyle. Does such a place exist?

The German mentioned getting paid nothing, although you seemed to think Japan, Korea and China pay more- does anyone know how they would be about me bringing supps from the UK? Hmmm, could look suspicious to them...

Steelicarus, I'm from Manchester but went to Uni in Bristol. How do you find HK? It must be quite different from mainland China

Once again, thanks for the replies!


My best mate did his TEFL course here in the UK and he went and taught in Japan for a year and loved it, he is now 30 years old living in sunny spain teaching in a private scholl, he has a 22 year old sexy french chick that he is going to marry this year (btw he is not the kind of guy you would expect to see with a hot young chick if you know what I mean), so I would say happy days

If you want I would be happy to exchange your email address's with him if you need more advice

PM me if you like.


I meant in most European countries and South American Countries you will get paid just enough to cover rent and food. And I'm talking enough food to eat 3 meals a day, not enough food to sustain the size a lot of us T-Nation guys are at.

But hell, if you're in S.America, say the Carribean islands, chillin on the beach after work or surfing, then who give a damn if you're just scraping by...you'll be in paradise!

Honestly, your best bet, since you're british, would be to teach somewhere in the EU. British citizens have a huge advantage over us Americans in the EU because you can work without requiring a work Visa and they like your accent better (dammit!) You should be able to get a job really easy after getting your TEFL

I'm going to Italy because my girl lives there, and I have family in both South Germany and North Italy. For me, theres no paradise...I'm leaving sunny Santa Cruz,CA for polluted Padova, IT...And I hate living in cities! it make me sick thinking about it. But fuck, if I'm with my girl I'll be happy(yeah shes worth it)

I wish you lots of luck, and if you'd like some good websites to find TESL/ESL jobs, PM me, as I've kinda filtered out some good ones from the thousands of BS sites.


i'm from manchester too! you can make lots of money in china, i heard the same about japan not sure about korea tho -


There looking for a TON of ppl here in Thailand. You dont make a lot but living here is pretty damn cheap as well and They give you three hots and a cot (room and board)

I may do it here before long just for an experience if I go broke and dont find a teaching position in my feild I want.



Thanks man,

I think that I'm starting to lean towards Asia rather than Latin America, so I'll definately think about Thailand.


Teaching in Japan is AWESOME:


I didn't do a TEFL,you don't need to teach English in most countries,being a native speaker is enough.

I came to Japan with Shane English Schools(saxoncourt is the name they have in Britain,because the eponymous Shane (fat ego-trip bastard that he is)is some sort of international outlaw).They were a good way to set up here,but there are better companies to work for over here.If you're interested get in touch and I'll tell you all about them.JET is good,good money and conditions,but notoriously difficult to get onto(so I've heard).

The money is very reasonable here,doesn't sound much in pounds but when you consider that you pay fuck all tax(5%)it's very easy to live on and have a good time.I even managed to save cash the first year before I got married and that was with going out all the time and buying drinks in bars(which is expensive,buying stuff in the supermarket is dirt cheap,bottle of Jack Daniels for six quid anyone?).Though the whole industry here is rotten to the core with stinking exploitative robber baron capitalists(cunts basically),there is scope to make a career if your serious and like it.

Don't know about China,but know peolpe that do and could put you in touch if you like.Korea is similar to Japan but with the same wage and cheaper so that you just have a similar experience,but with more cash to spend.

This seems to be a sort of Lancashire get together!I'm from Bolton.

Allsorts here,lots of antipodeans and Yanks,but don't let that put you off they're ok mostly.


Having lived in Japan for three years, I would say that you would probably like Asia more. You can most likely make the most money in Japan, but that is because cost of living is so high. So you are going to spend most of it on just food. (I believe they give you a place to live.) If I had to choose, I would got to Thailand.... of course you will probably never leave, and if you do, you soul may not be intact, but it sure is fun.


I'm currently teaching University Level in China. I was from Los Angeles and came here.

I can say honestly that this is by far one of the GREATEST decisions I've ever made. I've been here 2 years thus far and will stay at least another one...I would say more, but who knows what will happen in the future.

The salary's in China are decent (for China)...I can eat as much as I want and buy supplements (some gyms have imported supps...but they are expensive, so I stick to Chinese stuff...not too bad. Not Biotest quality, though).

And do almost anything I like.

The problem is that, while livin' pretty large (and only working 16 hours/week) the money is the equivalent of about 500 US dollars/month.

But the rent is free and many times people want to invite me to dinner and pay for it.

Plus, side jobs (tutoring, etc) can be easy to come by.

I know Korea (south, of course) is a high salary (some places can be as high as 2000 USD/month). Japan is supposedly good too...although I don't know too much about these places.

I took an online TEFL once I got a job out here. Private schools (non university) will train you. Most of them require a bachelors degree (any), but many of them don't care too much as English teachers are in high demand out here.

For teaching University level, you need a minimum of a Bachelors degree and a TEFL...most universities (except for those in the boondocks) require experience as well (usually up to 2 years).

Feel free to PM me if you want...or if I can help you via this thread, I'll be glad to help.



As someone who's lost all faith in finding a career path, I am definitely considering this TEFL thing. I want to go on those badass hikes with Phil in Thailand.


Hah, yeah those hikes look damn cool.

I think teaching English abroad could help you figure out what you want to do, I hope that it might do that for me... but at the very least, I'm sure it'd be good fun.

Your profile says that you're still at college, right? I wouldn't necessarily give up hope of finding a career yet, in that case.


I read something once by a guy who taught English in the third world: "The only reason guys teach English in latin america or asia" is to meet girls.

Is he correct?

I have this theory that dumpy Canadian girls teach in Latin America to meet hot latin guys. (Of course there are exceptions) Am I wrong?

Is teaching English really a euphemism for trying to get laid?


The money that you can make in Japan isnt as good as it used to be and the Yen is taking a beating against the dollar and the pound.

Korea has a cheaper cost of living and the salaries seem to be going up.

Do the TEFL. You dont need one in Asia BUT most other places require one.

Saudi Arabia pays the best and really takes care of the tecahers out there.

daves esl cafe is a good site to check out for jobs.

As far as TEFl is concerned I would go for either the Oxford or Cambridge courses (DELTA and CELTA). You can do these overseas and they will help you look for work after.