Teaching English Abroad with CELTA

Teaching English abroad is the easiest way to pay for your travels. It’s a skill that’s actually in demand all over the world – including native English speaking countries. I wanted to travel – so obtaining a portable skill that could get me work anywhere seemed the wisest thing to do. While you can certainly teach English abroad without a certification – your chances of making enough money so you don’t feel like a perpetual backpacker are slim. The other problem is that teaching English is actually difficult and in order to do it well, and get work with a respectable school, you need to be trained properly. Therefore, my plan was to obtain an English teaching certificate that had global recognition and held the cache of what is regarded as one of the best learning institutions in the world, the University of Cambridge – England. And no, I didn’t get the idea to go there from watching the Harry Potter movies. This was well before Harry Potter made Oxford and its sister university, Cambridge, famous for their ornate and mystical settings. But before you imagine me studying in the hallowed halls of Christ College, I’ll tell you that I never actually attended Cambridge in England, but rather took a month-long course in Los Angeles that used the Cambridge CELTA exam.

The standard is so high via the Cambridge CELTA that only a masters degree from a university might be considered superior. While I know there are other teaching certifications out there that might even measure up – none is so widely accepted as the gold standard CELTA – so why invest your time and money in them? As for me, taking the challenging course provided not only my certificate but the knowledge that I actually enjoyed teaching and had a certain knack for it which, in turn, gave me much more confidence to use the skills I learned when I started my first job. I used my CELTA as an introduction to travel to Prague and Japan, the hot teaching spots of the time.  I was hired before I reached Prague based just on my bachelors degree and Cambridge CELTA score.  In Japan, I found that I also had many offers and options for teaching from schools to private lessons for decent pay.  While the CELTA won’t guarantee you a job teaching English, it will certainly give you a leg up on the competition. You’re next big decision will be to decide where to teach. Oftentimes, the jobs that will make you the most money might not be in the country you find desirable and vice versa.  Definitely do your research on the country’s culture, cost of living, school and program before you commit.  While I didn’t continue to teach English, I was glad to have that money making teaching certificate in my back pocket as I traveled the world.

To find a Cambridge CELTA course offered in your area

Resources for teachers of English and a job board: Dave’s ESL Cafe

Links page for ESL (English as a Second Language) with a wealth of information about jobs, newsletters, country information: Transitions Abroad

Comments, questions? – now it’s your turn 

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  • sara

    Of course a good certification program should teach most or all of these topics, and it’s common for schools to give an orientation before teaching starts.

    TOEFL Listening Tips

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