TEFL Courses: An Opportunity to do something different

If you’re trying to plan something exciting for your summer, or you’re graduating and want to spend time abroad, living and working could be the best option for you. There are a variety of organisations that offer placements teaching abroad with paid placements as well as volunteering, that provide a TEFL qualification and the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture.

One way of living and working abroad is by gaining a place on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, an official Japanese Government scheme aiming to improve foreign language teaching in schools and to promote international understanding. It gives graduates an opportunity to live in Japan and work as an assistant language teacher (ALT).

There are currently 4400 graduates on the programme from 40 different countries, one of which is Phil Hamill, a German and Japanese graduate from Cardiff University who is currently in her second year as a JET participant working in Yamagata Prefecture in the north of Japan. Of her experience so far, Phil says ‘It’s been awesome – I’ve made so many friends here and have been astounded and humbled again and again by how kind people can be when you’re in an unknown environment. I’ve grown and changed so much in the past two years and can only encourage people who have a genuine interest in Japan to apply.’

As for her experience in the classroom she said ‘Everyone’s experience is different. Elementary, junior high schools and senior high schools are all hugely different. As we’re assistants, we rarely teach a class alone and accompany a main English teacher. This can be by creating warm-up games, helping pronunciation, marking, helping role-plays, and a lot more. Sometimes it goes awfully, but when it goes well, it feels really good.’

She is planning to return to Cardiff in August to get involved with the JET alumni network with career fairs and networking events.

Although Phil has a degree that includes Japanese, the programme is open to anyone with any bachelor’s degree, so you can have little or no Japanese knowledge and still apply to become an ALT with no disadvantage. For those who do have a strong grasp of spoken and written Japanese there are positions for Co-ordinators of International Relations who assist international activities at a local level.

JET arrange all participants with accommodation and you are paid monthly for teaching 35 hour weeks with 10-20 days annual leave. The programmes run for anything between one and five years, after one year if your contracting organisation are happy with your performance you will be eligible to apply for a further year.

To find out all JET information visit their website at

Perhaps you don’t want to commit to a year abroad and are looking for something shorter, and closer to home. By applying through ‘Hands on TEFL’ you could spend three months abroad in a city in Spain teaching English and receive a TEFL certificate at the end of it.

When applying through their internship scheme the partnership schools provide you a single room flat share accommodation with other participants as well as utility bills allowance, basic medical insurance and one-to-one Spanish lessons. A head teacher will also monitor you throughout the placement for extra help and guidance. They offer placements in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla and Valencia. Although you are not paid for the internship you will receive a TEFL qualification that you can later use to teach in countries across the world, a certificate that would usually cost several hundred pounds. You do not have to have completed your degree to apply through Hands On TEFL or any teaching experience, so the application is open to everyone.

Maybe you’re looking to make a long term commitment to teaching abroad. Completing a TEFL course is essential for this, so rather than spend three months working abroad to receive the qualification you can go through TEFL themselves to gain the qualification in three days. This could open doors to any of their available jobs in America, Europe, Africa or Asia.

They offer a variety of different types of courses to suit everyone’s schedule. They have the option to complete the course during three weekdays or during the weekend. There is also a course conducted online only if you’re unable to commit the days required. The price of the course starts at £199 for a basic course, and increase with additional involvement hours and more detailed and varied methods of teaching included. The courses are available in most areas of the country so it won’t mean travelling to one place and incurring extra costs. All of the courses once completed will mean that an applicant is TEFL qualified, so even the shortest course offer the opportunity to teach abroad.

For current students and recent graduates a 20% discount can be applied to the cost of the chosen course, so it is the best time to get a TEFL qualification. Once qualified, you will be eligible to apply to many of the advertised jobs on their website that range in duration, with most being nine months or longer. Almost all of the jobs are paid and include provided accommodation, varying from locations such as Mongolia, China and Indonesia to Honduras, Mexico and Brazil.

They also offer summer schools throughout Europe available to anyone with a TEFL qualification. They can range from 3 weeks to 4 months and most are paid placements with accommodation provided.

For all information about TEFL courses and jobs visit their website at

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