Posts tagged: English for Special Purposes

When Changing your Career to TEFL: Think ESP

People who have lost their jobs often wonder if a change to TEFL might solve their problems and offer some optimism and opportunity to what is a difficult time.

They ask if teaching English abroad might help meet some lifelong goals of seeing and experiencing the greater world (goals that were seeming quite impossible recently)?

It might well do that.  The demand for EFL teachers has never been greater.

Steps in Transitioning to Working Abroad

1. Get some training

There is increasing competition out there, but still not nearly enough teachers.  Getting a bit of training says you care enough to at least begin to learn the skills for the job you are seeking.

Many people are seeking teaching jobs and the only thing they have to offer is being a “native speaker”.  If you have more than that to offer, you are already in front of 25-30% of your competition.

2.  Don’t forget the value of the skills you already have

This is where English for Specific (or Special) Purposes – or ESP – comes in.   If you have as little as 3-4 years in the workforce,  you probably already have some special skills that will be sought somewhere.  You just have to find out where!

Around the world there are vocation high schools, two-year community and vocational colleges, academic colleges and universities and even specialized private vocational schools that teach the skills of almost every occupation in the world.

In most occupations abroad, at one time or another, workers will need a few English skills.  If that occupational area is where you have been employed, that employer of teachers would usually prefer to hire you before they hire me.

What this means is don’t head across the world after twenty years in finance and take the first kindergarten teacher job you can find.   Ten years as a lawyer (you’d be surprised how many lawyers are teaching English!) should land you nice job a college somewhere, teaching Business English, Contract English and possibly even International Commerce – in English.

A few years as a public school teacher can help you land either the same type of position at an international school abroad (very competitive market) or teaching English to future teachers at colleges and universities.  Three years at Walmart?  Walmart probably offers English classes to their managers in Korea and China.   And the list goes on.

A few more examples?  A friend once taught Airline English to Korean ladies at an airline stewardess training school.  My previous work experience has had me teaching accounting and management (in English) at an international hotel management school in Thailand, Business English to business teachers in Saudi Arabia, Email English to employees at Roche Pharmaceuticals in Taiwan, Business English to international executives in Korea, Telephone English to staff at a MasterCard call center and even more stuff I wouldn’t want to bore you with.  But none if it was boring to me!  :-)

But . . . can you see that I never taught kindergarten?  I started in TEFL at about age 40 – twenty years ago.

3. Get your Foot in the Door

Okay, you are right – sometimes you just have to get your first job and get your foot in the door.  Do whatever is needed to land that first job. (TEFL training will help!).   Always keep your eyes open for opportunities to teach ESP in areas in which you have skills that other teachers probably don’t.  It is the best way to compete, to increase your income and job satisfaction and a great way to meet people with similar interests.

TED’s Tips™ #1:   Try to not start your TEFL journey on the bottom rung of the career ladder.  If you must do that, keep your eyes open for opportunity to jump a few rungs ahead of everyone else.  Those opportunities are there.  You will need to look for them and they often are not heavily advertised as employers believe that it is difficult to find you.  Help them find you!  Colleges, universities and vocational programs are where these jobs are hiding.  Go get them.

Teaching Internships in China


Teaching English for Special Purposes


Teaching ESP Abroad

Many people, when transitioning to a career in TEFL, forget that they have lots of experience and sometimes education in a specialized area.

Rather than starting at the bottom rung in TEFL consider finding your own special niche where you can probably make more money, do a better job and even enjoy yourself more.

For example, many people from Information Technology (IT) careers come to TEFL. Their best job strategy would be to seek an English teaching position at a college or university that has an IT specialty.

Many occupational specialties in foreign countries need English training. The need it for university study and papers, research (most international research is published in English) and/or to run a business.

If you have a background in a special area, it is in your best interest to use it. You will already know the specialized vocabulary of the business, you will know how the business works and you will even have a curiosity about the business that other teachers won’t have. This makes you ideal to teach in that special niche. And it makes you a preferred hire over other teachers without your special skills.

Consider nursing, aviation training, business and marketing, chemicals, general medicine, engineering, hospitality (restaurant, hotel, and tourism industry), IT, law, construction technology, and every other possible major at a university or college.

If you have such a skill/knowledge it would be well worth your time to seek employment in that area. DON’T go to the English department of a college or university – go to the department of your specialty and have them recommend you to the English department. You WILL be in demand.

Read the following links to get a better understanding of teaching ESP.

Teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP)

Two excellent examples of niche employment that the smart people look for are Hotel and Resort English and Business English. Teach a few reception desk staff in an air conditioned classroom at a 5-star resort on a tropical island – or 50 screaming kids in a hot classroom? Teach a small class of businesspeople at corporate headquarters – or back to the screaming kindergarteners . . . Up to you . . . ESP has its advantages!

TED’s Tips™ #1: Your BEST English Teaching Job – the one that you enjoy the most and that will likely pay you the best is usually related to your personal skills, experiences and education. If you don’t explore those options you are shortchanging yourself AND your new career.

TED’s Tips™ #2: There is no need to start on the bottom rung of the English teaching business. Go direct to the colleges, universities and businesses that need the skills you already have.

What’s up in China? Learn what kind of jobs are on offer if would like to Teach English in China

How to Teach English Overseas and Secrets to Success Abroad
TEFL eBooks is offering a free download of their new publication Seven Secrets of Success Abroad – and along with it comes a bi-weekly installment and revision of their eBook called How to Teach English Overseas.

Great reviews for the Secrets of Success eBook – in spite of the hokey name – and the How to Teach English eBook is being updated and rewritten and sent out in installments as it is ready.

Here they are – click on the eBooks to get your FREE copies! Great information and the price is right, from our friends at TEFLeBooks.



Please let me know what you think of the ebooks – use the comments section below.

I confess both eBooks are written by yours truly – hoping to inspire others to head overseas and live life BIG out in the real world. I would value your feedback!