For the attention of C1 English speakers
If you have a C1 English level, you should think about taking a TEFL course. Being a qualified Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) means you can work around the world and make a real difference in people’s lives. Moreover, many non-native speakers of English make fantastic teachers because you really know what it takes to learn English.
You speak great English even though it’s not your mother tongue
So, you have spent years and years studying to reach a C1 English level. You’re able to communicate well in English, especially with other people who don’t speak English as their mother tongue. You can watch TV on English and get most of the jokes, even if you don’t find them all funny! You know all about English grammar; in fact, you know much more than your average British person, who has no idea what the present perfect is. If you speak English at C1 level English, you have definitely studied the present perfect and would know how to explain its form and function. You don’t necessarily need to have passed a C1 English exam, you just need to be at that level of proficiency.
International English in the 21st century
In the 21st century, English is used more as a language of communication between non-native speakers than between native speakers. And when you think about it, most native English speakers don’t actually care too much about your accent. They understand you perfectly and even find your way of speaking charming, maybe even sexy!
In fact, if you are a fluent English speaker with a C2 English qualification, you would probably make a great English teacher. Even if you only have a C1, you could still probably teach 90% of ESL learners. Many TEFL courses only require you to have a C1 certificate, which means that you will be pushed to actually improve your English during the training.
Why Native speakers of English don’t always make the best teachers
Qualified English teachers are in high demand all around the world. However, there is still the belief that native speakers make the best teachers. But, is that true?
Native speakers may have a wider range of idiomatic expressions; they use grammatical structures with little effort; they have a high level of fluency meaning they are rarely lost for words. Yet, even native speakers struggle to write formal texts; we make spelling mistakes and mispronounce words; we stumble when we are asked to discuss an unfamiliar topic; we may not even understand dialects…or teenagers.
And many of us haven’t studied and analysed our own language because we acquired it naturally. Think of us like car drivers, we know how to drive but we don’t know how a car actually works or what to do when we need to fix it. We call a mechanic. Non-native speakers who have learned English in an EFL/ESL context know what works and what doesn’t work in TEFL.
Why Non-Native English speakers are often better teachers
As a teacher trainer, I can confirm that non-native speakers of English often make better teachers than native speakers.You struggled to learn the language which means you have a much better understanding of the challenges facing learners of English as a second or foreign language. You know the common errors and mistakes and have developed ways to explain and correct these errors.
In order to reach C2 English, you had to deconstruct English language in order to understand grammatical structures. Native speakers have a natural awareness of English grammar but are not always able to present it in a way that helps students learn it. Many native speakers really come unstuck analysing language on TEFL courses. As a C1 English speaker, you had to learn and discover rules and patterns in English.
You have a natural empathy with your learners. On an emotional level, you feel their pain and stress when they try to communicate in English. Acquiring a C1 level of English requires blood, sweat and tears; you should be very proud of your achievement.
You probably use a standard version of English. Native speakers often use lots of idioms and phrases specific to their variety of English. They sometimes struggle to express themselves clearly when communicating with non-native speakers. Your English is suitable for international communication. Remember that you will provide use English as a lingua franca (ELF) with members of a global community – not just Brits or North Americans.
The Curse of Knowledge
Finally, being an expert is something doesn’t make you an expert teacher. Native speakers often suffer from the curse of knowledge, they know too much about the language and are not able to present language in a way that their learners can understand. If you have a C1 level of English, you won’t be able to teach learners at C2 level, but you are probably expert enough to teach all the way up to B2. In other words, we often learn more effectively from non-experts, just people who are better than we are at speaking English.
Of course, you will have teaching challenges which native speakers don’t have. You will have to make sure your pronunciation is close to standard English, you will have to develop your knowledge of common idioms and phrases, you will have doubts about grammar which native speakers won’t have, and you may lose fluency when you are tired or stressed.
But, you will learn how to overcome these weaknesses with training and guidance. You’ll be able to resolve a number of doubts you have about ‘correct English’ and your trainers will identify about fossilised errors (mistakes you have made for a long time) and help you correct them. TEFL courses train you how to teach classes which help your learners really communicate in English. You won’t be expected to teach outdated methods, such as grammar translation.
Good teachers are good teachers, wherever they are from
I’ve trained hundreds of EFL / ESL teachers and they have common traits: a love of the language, a passion for teaching, patience and empathy, and a desire to help people achieve their learning goals. Some were native speakers and other spoke English as their second, third or even fourth language, but they were all skilled communicators in English with clear, intelligible pronunciation.
To quote David Crystal OBE, author of over 100 books on the English language and honorary professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor in Wales.
If I were in charge of a language-teaching institution, I would want to know four things about applicants: are they fluent? are they intelligible? do they know how to analyse language? are they good teachers? I would not be interested in where they were born, what their first language was, or whether they had a regional accent. There are absolutely no grounds for discrimination these days.
Why you should consider taking a TEFL course
So, what do you think? If you are a C1 English speaker, why not consider training as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher? There are other reasons why taking a TEFL / TESOL course might be a good investment. Unlike educational degrees, you can complete the TEFL / TESOL course in just a month and they are relatively cheap: between 1000€ and 1500€.
On a TEFL / TESOL course, you will train with people from different backgrounds communicating in English. This is a microcosm of how English is used in the world today. Communication occurs between native speakers; between native speakers and non-native speakers, and between non-native speakers. This sharing of information, experience, and opinions is a wonderful feature of TEFL courses, it enables you to develop intercultural skills.
Another benefit of taking a TEFL course is that it throws you out of your comfort zone. You’ll be asked to do things in English, writing assignments, giving presentations, teaching without recourse to translation, which you may never have done before. If you have never taught before, just standing up in front of groups helps you develop skills which are really useful in the modern world, such as giving presentations. If you have taught, you will still learn lots of new techniques and approaches which will help you become a more versatile teacher.
Finally, the demand for English teachers with a TEFL qualification is incredibly high at the moment. There is a global craze for learning English. This may not last, although the signs are good, but academies, schools, universities, businesses, and recruitment agencies are struggling to find good teachers to fill their vacancies. Conditions aren’t always fantastic but TEFL is a great way to see the world and maybe even learn another language.
In the 21st century, English is the closest thing we have to an international language, a lingua franca. Taking a TEFL course trains you to become an international educator, meeting the needs of language learners around the world.