I want to teach English (TESL). I am fluent but I am not a native speaker. What training do I need?

“Look into certification.”

Tests that measure fluency would clarify your ability level to potential employers. If you do not have any training, RSA CELTA, the certification standard from England, is the most widely recognized internationally. 

You could also work in your home country teaching English in an atmosphere that you are more comfortable in, and where you can switch to your native language when students don’t understand something. This would give you an easier transition into the experience of teaching. 

Once you have experience, testing that shows your fluency, and a degree or certification, you should find many open doors.

Answer from Clinton, who has served in Bosnia with Catholic Family Service ESL and refugee resettlement.

“Consider an entry position now and further training later.”

My agency has several workers who have been teaching English without a degree, and without being native English speakers. One is Swiss, one is Italian, one is Korean. There are others, but I mention these three because after teaching English and doing well with it, each completed a Master’s Degree (due to an interest in working in some tougher places where even a native English speaker would need a degree).

If you are truly fluent, agencies would have a number of openings for you either short term or long term. In many places the interest is for those with conversational skills. I don’t want to discourage you from further training if you want it, but I also don’t want you to feel you need a special degree. 

Answer from David, who serves with WEC International in the US, and previously in Africa.

Editor’s note: To learn more, see English Teaching as Christian Mission.

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