It happens very often that non-native speakers of English inquire about their possibility of participating in our TESOL certification program. It is open to native and non-native speakers alike. Prerequisite is an excellent command of English. What are the chances for a non-native speaker to find work after the program? One of our TEFL trainers has taken the time to write down her experiences with non-native graduates.
Native speakers who have a certain educational background and do a decent job during the TEFL certification training land jobs very quickly. Some of them know their prospective school even before the end of the program.
What about the non-native speakers? As a TEFL trainer with 15 years of helping individuals land English teaching positions throughout the world, this is what I have experienced over time. Our best trainee ever was a non-native speaker from Denmark. His English was outstanding, and nobody in the program was able to compete with him in terms of grammar. He knew it all. While native speakers frequently struggle with the correct use of adverbs, he had everything in place. And he found a job in Belgium.
France had been labeled as “impossible to find legal work” by some Americans; however, our French graduates with excellent English found jobs rather quickly—sometimes within two weeks of graduation. And France is by far not saturated with English teachers. Apparently, a little accent doesn’t matter there.
So what about Asian countries? Two of our non-native graduates found work in China and had a contract for one year. And so did a graduate from Jamaica. It took her a little longer; finally, she was hired in China. All three women have fabulous English skills.
China with its 900 million people and its huge dimensions is still an option for non-native English speakers. Why? Native English speakers are selective. They don’t want to go to remote areas. They want to be in the big cities (Beijing, Shanghai, etc.) where the action is. What about the schools in the somewhat smaller towns? I am absolutely convinced that such a school would hire a non-native speaker with excellent skills if they have the option of either getting an excellent English teacher or staying without. The demand of the market in China cannot be satisfied—not as of yet.
Our graduate from Israel (not considered a native speaker) went to Vietnam approximately two months ago. He had not found a job yet. The first two weeks nothing happened when he sent his resume/CV to the schools. So I told him to walk into the schools dressed up with a suit and tie, neatly groomed and clean shaven. Guess what? He has found jobs in three different schools, and he wants to try them all before he settles for one.
Obviously, in countries which are overrun by native speakers, non-native speakers have a hard time. This is true for Korea. Schools over there pay fabulous salaries to their teachers. Many Americans decide for Korea to establish some savings before exploring other parts of the world. I had excellent U.S. graduates start a job in Korea.
What about the Middle East? One of our Nigerian graduates applied at many schools in Saudi Arabia. Some immediately rejected him; others gave him the chance of an interview. He had to send in a video sample of his class. After he had submitted his video clip, the school informed him that they would send an employee to Nigeria to meet him in person. Now what school would spend that type of money for somebody who doesn’t fall into the category of native speakers? They are really interested in him.
One graduate from Macedonia found a fabulous school in Turkey. They love her over there, she has a great compensation package, and she is even thinking about opening her own school one day.
In summary, my experience is that non-native speakers can get jobs under the following conditions:
• top-notch English
• excellent knowledge of how to teach it
• flexibility and patience
• the will to succeed
A while ago, one non-native English speaker started to discuss his options. He wanted to become a teacher if a job was waiting for him at the end of the program. He did not want to take any risk. Well, how can we guarantee him a job if we don’t guarantee jobs to native English speakers? The schools decide whether they want to hire the individual. On top of it, his English needed urgent attention. If you are in such a situation and put certain conditions on something, chances are you will never do it.
In order to live our dreams, we sometimes have to take risks. As human beings we like to live in a world in which everything is secure and predictable. This approach won’t get us anywhere. Read Napoleon Hill’s book “ Think and Grow Rich.” It’s a textbook for all those who want to live their dreams and are uncertain of how to go about them. People who became successful in life had a vision, and they went on working towards realizing that vision, no matter what hurdles they had to take. They had to listen to many people who told them that their ideas would not work. Those extraordinary men in history have taught us that rather thinking about what could go wrong, we should think about things that go right and pursue our goals.
If you are a non-native English speaker, and you desire to become an English teacher with all of your heart, go for it. Life will provide you with opportunities which are out there. If you look for them, you will eventually find them. I guide myself by the words, "You have only failed, if you have failed to try." As a non-native English teacher with over 30 years in an English-speaking country, I have created two English schools. I have trained countless individuals to become successful English teachers. My trainees work at excellent schools around the world, including famous universities. They are highly regarded for their skills and the quality of their work. What is the secret? It's love towards the profession. There is no greater job than being an EFL teacher.