A Guide to TEFL for Students

TEFL isn’t just for graduates – in fact, if you’re thinking about teaching English after university then it’s a great idea to start building up experience while you’re still a student. Whether you’re thinking ahead to a full-time teaching position abroad after you graduate and want to build up your TEFL skills and experience to make your CV stand out, earn some money to help fund your studies, or just want to try TEFL to see if it’s for you, there are plenty of opportunities to teach English during your time at university.

Below are some ideas we’ve put together for how you can TEFL alongside your studies, covering a range of paid and voluntary opportunities.

But first things first, you’ll need to get TEFL qualified! There’s little hope of finding paid work without a qualification from a reputable and fully accredited TEFL provider, and even if you want to teach English in a voluntary capacity it’s crucial to have proper training. It may seem a little daunting to take on a course on top of your studies, but we’ve designed our courses to be flexible and fit around your schedule so you can work away at it at your own pace!

Summer Schools

Teaching English in summer schools is a great way to build your TEFL CV, earn some money during the summer, and (depending on where you go) get a bit of sun! Contracts can range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, so it’s easy to find something to fit around your other summer plans.

Taking on a shorter contract is a great way of testing the waters – if you’re not sure TEFL is for you then working in a summer school will give you a taste of what it’s like to teach English without having to commit to a year-long contract after you graduate. Plus you’ll be a much more competitive candidate when it comes to applying for your first full-time TEFL position with experience built up teaching English at summer schools.

Further reading
7 Essential Skills for Summer School Success
Summer School job listings
Chiera’s Summer in Romania
My Summer Teaching English in Rome

Teaching English Online

Teaching English online is a rapidly growing market and we’re seeing more and more students pursue this line of work during their studies. It’s easy to see why it’s an attractive option for students: the work is flexible, so it can fit around your studies and you can take on more or less work depending on how busy you are, and it usually pays better than a lot of student jobs, with the potential to earn a very good hourly wage once you’ve built up skills, experience, and reputation.

There are a number of online platforms you can use to teach online (see our Guide to Teaching English Online below), which will take a small commission from each lesson, and you can set up your own site and source the work yourself, which means you keep the full amount you charge per lesson. Our 40-hour Advanced Teaching English Online course covers how to teach online as well as guiding you through how to set up and find work.

Further reading
A Guide to Teaching English Online
How much can I earn teaching English Online
Digital Nomad David: From London to Japan
Advertising as an online English teacher

Volunteering

Most countries outside of Europe require a degree to get a work permit so it’s tough to legally find paid work as an EFL teacher in such countries for just a few months over the summer, but volunteering is a great option if you’re keen to go further afield and build up your TEFL experience. You can find voluntary work across Africa and South America, and in countries such as India and Thailand.

There are also options to volunteer at home with charities working with refugees and asylum seekers – you can reach out to local organisations to ask about volunteering opportunities throughout the year.

Further reading
Why volunteer?
Jaks Story from Vietnam

Private tuition

Private tutoring involves tailoring lessons to the individual student; they could be of any age or level, and require tutoring for a variety of reasons, such as improving their conversational English, preparing for the IELTS exam, working on their academic English, and so much more. Tutoring can take place in your home, the student’s home, or in a suitable public place such as a café or library. Students will look for a tutor who’s TEFL qualified, approachable and experienced – to get started you might need to begin by charging a lower hourly rate to attract students and build up from there as you gain more experience.

Further reading

Where to advertise online as a TEFL tutor
Private English Tuition

Language exchange

Interested in learning a language yourself? You can partner up with a non-native English speaking student – in exchange for helping them with their English they will help you learn their native language! This can be useful to gain some experience teaching English for academic use and teaching advanced learners. Stick an advert up on a noticeboard on campus or see if your university has a language exchange group already set up!

Further reading
Learn a language while you TEFL 

After graduation

There are many reasons recent graduates decide to TEFL. Some are interested in pursuing a career in teaching and TEFL is a great way to find out if it’s for them before pursuing a PGDE/PGCE. Others might have the travel bug and are eager to see the world before settling down into a career. And then there are those who aren’t really sure what they want to do when they finish university – there is no shame in that! – and TEFL appeals as a way of taking some time to work it all out while earning a wage and seeing a bit of the world.

When it comes to TEFL your degree really does open up the world to you because you’ll be able to apply for positions in countries where a degree is essential in order to secure a work permit. Outside of Europe and South America most countries require applicants to have a minimum of a BA degree.

Further reading
Student Stories
How to find a TEFL job without teaching experience
Top 10 tips to find your perfect TEFL job
What should I do when I graduate? Teach English abroad!

Share this page: