Not everybody has got wealthy or generous parents who are willing to fund a round the world gap year, but it’s still a must-do for thousands of students before they start the educational slog through years of university life. So, any handy tips on how to self-fund the necessary finances for your trip are like gold. Bar jobs and shop work are not everyone’s cup of tea, but as you are entering into further education, you should definitely have at least some academic clout and you are also a fluent, native-speaker of English. When you put those two skills together, along with your energetic youth and desire to travel, then you have the perfect combination to become a TEFL teacher, giving great English lessons to non native speakers and finding legitimate, paid work in almost country on the planet.
Did you know that you can study to obtain the initial teacher training certificate in only 1 month? There are only two globally recognised qualifications for teachers of English as a foreign language: Trinity TESOL Certificate and CELTA. If you have one of these in your hand, along with your CV, a school knows that you can be trusted to step straight into a class. There are one-weekend, online “certificates” available, but these are not worth the paper they are printed on. The days of just turning up in a city and getting teaching work because you are a native have faded away as the worldwide English teaching industry has become much more sophisticated, regulated and demanding. So, before you travel it is important to get trained and certified by a reputable training centre. Saint George International is an English School in London that has been training teachers on full-time (4 weeks) and part-time (2 evenings a week for 6 months) courses for over 20 years and can also place you straight into a teaching position abroad in their global network of sister schools.
With English as your mother-tongue, you will be highly valued by schools all over the world. If you are prepared to take a detour from the well-trodden backpacker stop-offs and are into finding out what life is like in some of the further flung corners of Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa, you and your teaching qualification will be welcomed with open arms, rather than in tourist hotspots like Barcelona, where it is more difficult for the newly-qualified teacher to find work. You will find that highly-experienced English teachers have set up shop in these ‘cool places to live’ long before you thought of becoming the next J.K.Rowling (did you know that she was an English tutor in Portugal before she became an author?). However, during the summer months, thousands of teenagers study English in summer schools in virtually every developed country you can name and there are lots and lots of teaching jobs on offer for the recently-qualified teacher in these kinds of posts.
If teaching kids is not really your thing, then don’t despair because there are several teaching strings to your bow that you may not even realise you possess. If you have already secured a place at university, then you already are an expert at passing exams, right? Some of the most popular English courses are exam preparation lessons. You could easily help someone construct a good essay with an introduction, some main points with comparisons and contrasts and a conclusion. This comes as second nature to you, but all the English language that you take for granted has to be absorbed by your learners. They will be very grateful when you show them how to use words and phrases like ‘however’, ‘the most important fact is…’ and ‘to sum up’. Even if writing is not your forte, you can utilise your authentic accent by teaching on an English pronunciation course for non English native speakers where everyone in class will fall in love with your voice and relish the fact that they are communicating with a genuine English teacher from the UK.
Let’s be honest, whatever work that you find on your gap year is not going to be super well paid. Teaching English is not going to make you rich either, but it is a viable alternative to unsociable minimum-wage bar work in a very nice atmosphere where you will feel genuinely appreciation from your students and make your time in foreign lands be a truly memorable experience.