Non-native Speakers Teaching English
The great majority of teachers of English around the world are non-native speakers. And while there are many people (usually native speakers!) who think non-natives speakers of any language should not be teaching it, those teachers provide a vital function. There are just not enough native speakers to go around and these (usually local) non-native teachers are usually the people who get students from total beginner to the point where they are ready for a native speaker of English to take over and refine their skills, especially in the areas of pronunciation and listening.
Non-native Speakers of English Teaching Abroad
There are more and more non-native speakers of English heading overseas these days, hoping for a bit of adventure and if their English skills are up to speed, doing well finding job. They are at a bit of a disadvantage when first starting out as almost every school seeks a native speaker. But they can usually level the playing field by applying for teaching jobs in person and presenting themselves well and proving their fluency level. Some non-native teachers attempt to do prove their skill levels by presenting TOEFL of IELTS scores, but unfortunately many hiring authorities have little understanding of what those scores mean – or don’t mean!
Job Search Strategy for Non-Native Speakers Teaching English
Non-native speakers teaching English need a bit of a boost in their job search. Those with previous work experience in teaching and even outside teaching can highlight that experience. One of the best ways for a work experienced person to get that boost is to look for work at vocational high schools and colleges that teach whatever skills they already have when coming into Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
That means if you worked in IT for five years, but you want to make a switch to TEFL, look for jobs teaching English at vocational schools that teach IT skills. They will often need English teachers and if you already know the specialized vocabulary and language and interactions of that occupation AND can demonstrate your English fluency, that school will have much more interest in you (or at least equal interest) as in a native speaker.
Apply that idea more broadly and if, for example, you have experience working at a resort or hotel, then apply to teach English at the HR departments at the upscale resorts and hotels in countries where they will need to train their staff to better communicate with their guests. You will already understand the “service mind” that such an organization is looking for and native speakers with no experience in that idea will take a long time to really understand how the service mind should work. Advantage non-native speaker!
Got the idea? If you are a non-native speaker, you need not to put your job search focus on I’ll take any job as a non-native speaker teaching English, but rather you need to more sharply focus your job search where you will have a skill and advantage that will help an employer hire you first and prefer you rather than just accepting you because they can not find a native speaker.
TEFL Job Search Strategy
This basic strategy is a good method for anyone who feels that they may not be at the top of the food chain when it comes to hiring teachers. Twenty plus years ago the picky TEFL language schools in places like Korea and Japan had their sights narrowly focused on white, young, blue-eyed, perky females, but it is a much bigger world now. But – in any case – if you suspect you are not the target of the employers you want to work for, find that perfect place where your non-TEFL skills support your TEFL jobs search.
Got it? Those jobs are out there, go get ’em!
Non-native speakers teaching English
Pronunciation and listening practice for English learners