Professionals turn to TEFL career following global pandemic

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Fed-up workers are turning to a new career in teaching English as a foreign language after the pandemic left them disillusioned with their job or forced them out of work.

Research by The TEFL Org, the world-leading language teaching provider, found more than a third of its graduates opted to start their courses because they wanted a career change.

The Scottish business also found that its virtual classroom courses and on-demand online courses grew in popularity by more than 250% over the last year as lockdown attracted a new wave of people into teaching.

Co-founder of The TEFL Org, Jennifer MacKenzie, believes the shift to working from home has had a significant impact on career opportunities for those wanting to work in the sector.

Jennifer said: “We are seeing a massive increase in people looking to start a career in TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) that has been driven by the impact the pandemic has had on people’s lives.

“Those who could perhaps not follow a passion for teaching due to travel restrictions or time constraints, and especially those who found themselves out of work, can now do so from the comfort of their own home. We can beam our lessons to students from all over the globe.

“As much as possible, we will be pursuing the remote learning route. It has proven to be much more efficient than in-person teaching and provides flexibility for our staff and our learners.”

One professional who made the move was Yvonne Beckles, who worked for the Bath local Tourism Board in Somerset before being made redundant during the pandemic.

After much deliberation, Yvonne – who studied French and German at the University of Glasgow – completed a 120 hour accredited course with The TEFL Org in 12 weeks before starting her career as a teacher.

Yvonne, said: “For many years I worked for the local Tourist Board in a variety of different roles, promoting the city to visitors from the UK and overseas. It brought me into contact with people from all over the world, many of whom didn’t speak English. I thought I’d be working in the tourism industry until I retired.

“Then 2020 arrived and tourism stopped. First I was furloughed, then, along with many of my colleagues, I was made redundant. I didn’t know what I would do next, because all I really knew was the tourism industry, and the future there was looking bleak.

“A chance conversation with a friend led me to think about TEFL and I decided to look into it further. I hadn’t done any language teaching before, but I had trained staff and given talks to tourism students.

“Even though I was slightly daunted by the prospect of going back to studying and completing assignments after so many years, I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and it felt good to be doing something positive and keeping my brain active following my redundancy.”

Through The TEFL Org, Yvonne then went on to secure a job with a company teaching English online to 5-11 year old students 4,830miles away in China. However, recent legislative changes in the country has meant Yvonne is hoping for alternative opportunities with the online firm.

Nevertheless, Yvonne continues to teach from the comfort of her own home in Bath to 40 students each week.

Yvonne, said: “When I first started teaching, my stomach was tied up in knots before each lesson, and I kept asking myself why I was imposing such torture on myself.

“I wondered if I was going to have to go through this every working day, but before long I realised it wasn’t happening anymore and I could actually relax and enjoy the lessons.

“A year ago, if anyone had told me that I would be teaching English to overseas children in the future, I would have told them they were crazy, but here I am, enjoying the challenges and satisfaction that each class brings. The saying goes that ‘when one door closes, another opens’ and in my case it’s true. I lost one job that I loved, and I’m so lucky to have found another one.”

Inverness-based The TEFL Org conducted an internal survey with its graduates over the last six months of 2020 through a variety of metrics; from level of education to nationality.

The survey found 29% of people took a TEFL course in order to improve their CV, and there was a small rise in undergraduate and postgraduate degree holders from 2019 looking to gain a qualification.

Jennifer and her co-founder Joe Hallwood started The TEFL Org during the 2008 financial crash from a garden shed.

The employee-owned company is now the world leading provider in TEFL accreditation after it experienced an 81% revenue growth from 2019 to 2020.

The TEFL Org is continuing to grow globally with students from around Europe, the USA and as far as Australia and New Zealand.

For more information please visit The TEFL Org at https://www.tefl.org/