There’s no other way to say it: TEFL gives you opportunities to see and impact the world like no other industry. Even from the very start of your TEFL journey, the spirit of adventure and longing to make a difference takes hold, and no matter your level of teaching experience, you can find yourself across the world in no time.
Through teaching programmes, new TEFL talent can get their start in the industry. Why do a teaching programme? Well, it means you can get a feeling for what teaching English and working with learners involves, but you aren’t “running the show”, so to speak. It also means your first teaching experience is through an organisation, so you have a reliable infrastructure to rely on.
Teaching programmes provide valuable experience that looks amazing on a CV, and most of the more popular programmes happen to be in countries where there’s very healthy competition for teaching places.
So, what’s out there? Let’s take a look at some of the top teaching programmes around the world.
A great number of prospective TEFL teachers tell us they want to go to live and work in Japan. The JET Programme is a fantastic way to do just that. The Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme encourages cultural exchange, with the aim to:
“…increase mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the people of other nations, to promote internationalisation in Japan’s local communities by helping to improve foreign language education, and to develop international exchange at the community level.”
To take part, you must have bachelor’s degree, be a citizen of a country where recruitment can take place (more details are on the JET website), cannot be a Japanese citizen, must have “superb” English speaking and writing skills, a “profound” interest in Japan and Japanese culture, and you can’t have lived in Japan for 6 years or more.
JET is highly, highly competitive, but it’s a fantastic way to explore Japan and learn from the best teachers in the country. If you have long-term aspirations to teach in Asia, there’s little better for the CV than a placement with JET. Annual salaries start at £24,000 / $31,500.
EPIK by name, Epic by nature, this teaching programme allows TEFL teachers to experience ‘The Land of Morning Calm’, South Korea. EPIK is a fantastic programme which encourages language and culture exchange between Korean school pupils and qualified teachers from certain locales, EPIK typically offers a salary of 2 to 2.2 million KRW per month (£1,370-£1,500/$1,800-$2,000) – leaving teachers with plenty of money to enjoy cities like Busan and Seoul!
What are the requirements? Well, you must be a citizen of one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, or South Africa. Also, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree from a university located in any of the aforementioned nations. If English isn’t your first language, you must provide proof that your education was conducted in English from junior high level (7th Grade/Year 7).
Finally, you need to have at least a 100-hour TEFL qualification from an accredited provider (but not if your degree was education-centred).
EPIK is the main recruiter for full-time positions in South Korean state education. So, if you have a good experience on the programme, keep your ear to the ground for long-term opportunities!
Staying in East Asia, Hong Kong is a fantastic place to teach English. If you’re able to land a full-time job there, you can expect to earn some of the best teaching wages in the world while enjoying a fantastic standard of living.
Getting onto the first rung of the TEFL ladder in Hong Kong is easier if you apply for the NET scheme. A scheme designed for native English speakers to work in the former British colony, NET has some strict requirements, but if you meet them, you can spend 2 years working in Hong Kong as an English teacher. The NET scheme is split into two distinct sections – PNET (placements teaching primary school students aged 6-12) and SNET (placements teaching secondary school pupils).
What do you need on your CV? Well, it sort of depends. You’ll need a degree in any subject and a TEFL certification to be considered. The more specific your degree and the more experienced and qualified you are, the better.
For SNET teachers, the requirements are even stricter – applicants will need at least a bachelor’s degree, a postgrad diploma in Education (focused on English), and at least one year of English teaching experience at secondary level or above.
As for salaries? You won’t be disappointed: they range from $30,000 – $70,000 HKD (£3,190 – £7,450 GBP / $3,820 – $8,915 USD) per month. Per month! To find out more, read our guide to the NET programme!
Moving from Asia to southern Europe now, and if the Spanish lifestyle is calling your name, applying for Meddeas could be your best move yet. The Meddeas programme is a fantastic opportunity for any prospective TEFL teacher – not only do you get to work as a language teaching assistant in a number of Spanish schools, you also get a chance to add university credits by studying at a Spanish university!
A bit like NET, there are different types of Meddeas experience, based on your level of experience and your qualifications. There’s the Advanced Programme for candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in Education, a degree in English Language, or any degree alongside a TEFL certificate. Then, there’s the Graduate programme for candidates who hold any degree, but not a TEFL certificate or an English-specific degree. Current students, or those on gap years can apply for the Speaker’s Programme.
What about your monthly stipend? According to Meddeas, it can range “from €878 to €1,140 for the independent lodging option and from €400 to €691 for the host family lodging option”. A hugely popular choice for TEFL teachers who want to explore the Iberian peninsula, Meddeas is a quality teaching programme. There are some others for Spain if Meddeas doesn’t work – try Conversa Spain or NALCA!
We might just have saved the most popular for last. TAPIF, the Teaching Assistant Program in France, is geared specifically towards American citizens, with 1,500 slots for prospective TEFL teachers to “teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of France such as French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion”.
Every applicant fills out their top 3 choices for which French area (including overseas territories) they’d like to teach in. While many students pick Paris – bien sûr! – there are beautiful regions across France where English teaching assistants are very much in need. So, what do you require to apply?
TAPIF applicants must be native English speakers and US citizens. If you’re a US national with a green card, then you can apply. You must be aged between 20 and 35, with B1 level or above in French, and have completed at least 3 years of higher education. Every month, you’ll receive a stipend of €785 per month.
Want to know more? Check our dedicated TAPIF page.
Teaching programmes: popular for a reason!
So what’s all the fuss about teaching programmes for? Well, for starters, they’re a great way to get into TEFL teaching. You can provide all of the energy and enthusiasm needed to be a TEFL teacher, but without the overall responsibilities that a teacher has to deal with.
If you’re changing career, a teaching programme might be just what you need. Getting an impression of what an English classroom is like can be a major factor in whether or not you pursue a career in teaching. What’s more, a spell as a teaching assistant can help you learn how to effectively devise a lesson plan, interact with students and address various learning needs.
It looks fantastic on a CV, it’s a brilliant way to explore a new country, and it’s maybe the most useful sampler of TEFL teacher life you can get.
Why not apply today?
Want to start your teaching journey? Sign up for a course through The TEFL Org, the most highly-accredited TEFL course provider on the market!