TEFL in the UK: Billie’s Story

After years of teaching abroad and enjoying lunch times spent basking in the scorching sunshine, I knew that transitioning back to life in the UK wasn’t going to be easy.

I had spent 6 adventurous years travelling across inspiring continents and countries, and gaining not only a deeper knowledge of teaching, but a much better understanding of the world we live in and the diverse cultures that exist. I had taught poolside with views for miles over golden sandy beaches in Spain, and in a remote hilltop village to young children in Thailand. I had experienced classes of up to 70 students in a rural Chinese school and had even taught English in weird and wonderful locations – one of the most memorable was in Europe’s biggest aquarium! After finally making the decision to come back to the UK, I began wondering what that meant not only for my lifestyle but also about how difficult it may be to find a job and fit into a more conventional style of working.

When I returned to England, I initially found work with a local school in my new home of Hertfordshire, but with only two classrooms, it became tough to have enough hours to survive. I quickly came to the realisation that maybe teaching English was something I might not be able to continue with, no matter how hard I tried to find enough private classes to get by. I had gone all the way around the world and back again, yet I found myself in the same position as when I left. I made the decision that I had to accept a job involving my second love – travel. The days were endless, my enthusiasm waned, and I felt utterly frustrated that I had given up on everything I felt passionate about.

Every day was tediously spent searching for teaching jobs, when finally, I rediscovered the inner risk taker in me, and I left my job for a temporary teaching position at EF Education First, Cambridge. Over a year later, it was the best decision I could have made. Now a permanent fixture, every single day brings variety and new challenges; from leading a teacher training course to teaching English for Special Interests such as Business or for Exams. I have attended numerous EFL conferences and have begun creating content for student’s books; an opportunity I never would have had working abroad.  Teaching in the UK is an experience in itself; the multilingual classes and mixture of cultures encourages students to express themselves more, and to teach others their traditions and way of life. It is incomparable to teaching abroad in many ways – there is a lot more student and lesson admin involved – but this only pushes you to achieve more and to think about taking the next steps; being more involved in ELT as an industry.

The ELT market in the UK can be tough, particularly if you live in a small town or away from one of the large cities such as London or Cambridge, but there are always vacancies on the TEFL Jobs Centre. The best time of year to apply is always summer, but if you’re looking for a full-time opportunity, go for a seasonal programme that also provides year-round classes and they may just offer you an extension. I thought I would find my itchy feet reappearing soon after I had landed, but I have found a happiness I never thought possible, being in the UK. For most of my life I have been a traveller and although it still remains very much alive, spending my time among multiple nationalities and languages reminds me daily that I am doing what I love, every single minute, regardless of where in the world I am.

You can read more from Billie over on her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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