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Five ways a TEFL certification can help any career

60-hour course

We think there are endless reasons why you should get TEFL certified, but what benefits can it give you if you're not sure about teaching? At least five! 

Better understanding of English, whether you’re a native speaker or not

It is no secret that English is the global language. Chances are a Frenchman and Japanese native will use English to communicate. So, whether you speak another language or not, getting TEFL certified will give you a deeper understanding of the language you are likely using with most friends, family, and colleagues, regardless of your chosen profession.

Intercultural training

Remember that Frenchman and Japanese native we just talked about? Surprise! Their cultures are very different from each other. How do they have a professional conversation and ensure they are respecting each other’s culture? Intercultural competence and understanding, your best friend when talking to people from other cultures or backgrounds. A good TEFL certification will talk about intercultural training, as it’s so important when teaching English to non-native speakers. Use this training in any field you go in – if you’re working with other people, you’ll need it.

Gain management skills

Okay, you won’t be managing people directly while getting TEFL certified, but you’re going to learn about classroom management and how to manage your students while teaching them. How can this help in other fields you ask? Well, management is management. Once you have the skills to manage a classroom, or students, you’ll be able to transfer this expertise to any job where you manage people.  

Options to volunteer in your community

Wherever you are in your career, adding a line to your resume about volunteering will always be a good thing. Get TEFL certified and teach English in your own backyard to immigrants or refugees. Use your intercultural skills to help them acclimate to life in a new country. Great for your resume, and for your conscience. Who doesn’t love helping people?!

Shows employers dedication and respect

Whether you’re teaching abroad, at home, or online – a TEFL certification will show future employers you took your work seriously. There is a common misconception that speaking English means you can teach it..every English teacher on the planet can tell you with certainty that’s not true. A TEFL certification teaches you how to teach something that comes so naturally to you. By getting certified (whether it’s required or not), your future employers will see you take your work and job seriously, and that goes a long way in any field!

Chiang Mai

Loi Krathong
First day in Chiang Mai! Orientation is over and now onto real life. We took an overnight bus to get here. The busses are so different from the U.S. *ahem, unlike Greyhound in particular* There is much more space between the seats, the seats recline far back for comfortable sleep, a hostess serves food and drink throughout the night, and the bus stops once at a rest stop for food/beverage/bathrooms. Although I wasn’t exactly looking for another long ride, these bus perks certainly made the ride less painful! We got in at 6am and it’s 3:12PM as write this… I am TIRED. 

Our school coordinator, Waree, rode the bus with us overnight and arranged for a car to pick us up at the bus station in the city. From there we drove to Sanpatong - my new home for the next 5 months.

Sanpatong is much more bustling than I’d imagined. The photos looked rather quiet, but there are actually a lot of little shops, restaurants and food stands around the area as well as several bright and colorful primary schools! Waree took us to the school we’ll be teaching at - it’s in a really beautiful area. The campus is definitely something I could get used to… I think! We met April, another foreign teacher from North Carolina who arrived here just a week ago. She told us not to be nervous about teaching and that it’s already fun and interesting for her. That puts me a bit at ease although I am definitely still a bit anxious! I just hope my TEFL practice and theory pay off :) I definitely feel a bit more prepared than others going into this without any training. We’ll see though as I have 6 classes on Monday! Diving right in!

My apartment complex is quite nice as well. The two other CIEE teachers, Claire and Nicole, are living here right across the hall and April is on the 2nd floor. We all have studios with queen size beds, a bathroom, dresser and mini-fridge. The heat is still an adjustment so I do feel better with the AC on at this point, but hopefully I’ll require it a little less as time goes on. Disclaimer about Thai beds - they are HARD. I have to buy a mattress topper. I just can’t do it. I'm not sure sleeping on the floor would feel much different...!

Tonight is the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai city so we’re going to try and partake in the festivities. From the pictures we’ve all seen, it should be pretty magical… see pic above!


How I learned Chinese while teaching English in China

-China 1

It is no secret that most travelers crave the ability to speak multiple languages. Being able to communicate with people outside your mother tongue is no small task. Since I started traveling abroad when I was in High School, I have always wanted to be bilingual. When I graduated college, I was ready to move abroad again and knew it was a chance for me to reach a goal I’ve been wanting to accomplish for a long time: to learn Mandarin, Chinese.

When you tell people you can speak Chinese, their first reaction is “wow, isn’t learning Chinese really hard?” – of course it is! Studying any foreign language is not easy; otherwise we would all be able to do it! It takes a lot of dedication, persistence, and hard work to reach a point where conversation comes somewhat naturally in a foreign language. So – how did I do it?

1. Find a language buddy

Teaching at the university level in China definitely gave me an extra hand in learning Chinese. I had many students who wanted to meet with me outside of class to practice their English. As their teacher, I was happy to meet with them whenever they wanted to – but I quickly realized they were just as willing and happy to teach me Chinese, as I was to teach them English. One hour per week with several students – 30 minutes was spent speaking English and 30 minutes spent learning Chinese.

2. Get a tutor/enroll in a class

This is a give-in! It is fairly inexpensive in China to enroll in a local university or get a private tutor to learn the language. You can find a tutor or class to cater to your level, and get more professional instruction. This is the way for you to learn how to read and write if you want to – that is not something that comes without practice, practice, practice.

3. Go shopping, even if you don’t need anything

This is personally my favorite way to study! While living in China, I would go to the wet market (where you buy your fresh vegetables every week), and the same fruit stand every week to practice my Chinese. The benefit of this is two-fold. I could practice my skills in an every day setting, which was incredible, but I also got to know some of the locals, and they got to know me! When you buy apples and oranges from the same woman each week (and you are a white girl speaking Chinese), she definitely remembers you every time you go!  

4. Involve your students

You have to be careful with this, but if you do it the right way, it can be really beneficial! Always remember, Teaching English is the reason you are living abroad, so that is your main priority. To make your students feel more comfortable, there is no harm in throwing in a little of their language here and there, as long as it is done properly! If they are having a hard time with a word, sentence, or topic  - ask one of your star students to translate for you. This way, the students that are struggling a little can understand, and you can learn some new vocabulary. 

5. Speak every chance you get

Taxi drivers, nail techs, waiters, baristas, or even the person standing next to you on the bus are all your teachers – they might need a little push, but there is always an opportunity to speak the native language when you are living abroad. Start a conversation with every local you can, and don’t be afraid to be wrong, as you will make mistakes. Ask people to correct you (whether they do or not is up in the air), but practice every chance you get.

After two years of studying Mandarin in China full time, I am still not fluent in the language, and I truly don’t know if I will ever be. I am very proud of how far I have come so far, and my studies have not stopped just because I am living back in the United States now. There are Chinese TV shows I watch, people I can talk to in the U.S., and books I can read to keep my skills up. Learning a language is not easy to do, but there are opportunities to learn around every corner, you just have to know where to look! Good luck, 加油!

- Ally Sobol, TEFL Manager



I arrived in Bangkok two days ago. What a crazy city. So different from what I’m used to that is for sure! I’m loving being able to explore the city, try new foods and take authentic transportation here. What a different way of living it is here. Visited my first authentic Thai temple -what a peaceful experience. I look forward to seeing many many more. All the gold is really beautiful. 

 First thoughts? The rumors are true - it is a full blown sauna here on the regular. But, it’s not that bad! You aren’t really struggling in the heat, but the humidity makes it so you are constantly sweating. Picture a really hot day at Disney world and you’re in Bangkok. ;)

 No stomach sickness yet - so far, so good. Although I’m sure I’ll pay the price tonight for saying that!

 It’s such an interesting time to be here right now because Thailand is celebrating their deceased King all week. The cremation ceremony was Thursday (the day I arrived), which means everyone was wearing black around the streets and most places were closed throughout the city. Some new friends and I walked the streets a bit and luckily found a river taxi service that was open for the day. Everything around the city was free, the river taxi included. Once we made it to the other side of the river we came across lots of huge tents serving free food, again to honor the King. Free bottled water everywhere and Thai iced tea. All was delicious!

 Today is the start of orientation. First up, learning some Thai! I know about three phrases at this point - how are you, hello, and thank you. Need to learn some survival Thai 101 for sure.

 We might try and visit the Chatuchak weekend market. It’s supposed to offer and sell about anything you can imagine! Sounds like my kind of place! I want Thai pants. Tons and tons of Thai parachute pants.


Ta ta for now

Giving Back in ACK



Hey everyone! My name is Ellen and I am a member of CIEE’s TEFL team here in Portland, Maine. After receiving my degree in Elementary Education from Elon University, I immediately headed to Tanzania to volunteer and teach. Fast forward a few years, and here I am, working at CIEE and getting to share my love of teaching and travel with incredible people every day. I’d like to tell you a little bit about what a special community is doing through TEFL...

Nantucket is a place full of memories for me. I grew up visiting Nantucket almost every year as a kid, and now as an adult, it is a weekend trip spent with my mother and sister that I look forward to every summer. A tiny, isolated island off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket is known for being an exclusive summer destination with its cobblestoned streets, beautiful beaches, and high-end boutiques.

Although I’ve  spent so much time on the island, hearing CIEE TEFL was partnering with Nantucket Community School was a complete surprise. “Who needs to learn English over there?” I thought to myself. Turns out, a lot of people.

In recent years there has been an influx of immigrant families flocking to Nantucket seeking jobs. Over 50 percent of the students in Nantucket schools are English Language Learners and there are currently twelve identified languages spoken in the public school system. For every child in the schools who is struggling with English, there is likely a mother, father, or grandparent at home whose language skills are even less developed.

So, this is where CIEE’s TEFL program comes in! Our team was lucky enough to be approached by the Nantucket Community School- a community organization that offers educational and enrichment activities to Nantucket islanders of all ages. NCS was awarded a grant that allowed them to enroll 8 adults from the island in our 150-hour online TEFL course. These community members come from all walks of life, some are ESL learners themselves. They see getting TEFL certified as a way to give back to the community and enrich the lives of others. Silvia, a native Bulgarian who is taking the course said “We all want to be able to give back and help our community. It is a lot of work but it feels so good when you know you can make a difference in someone’s life. Learning English is very beneficial to many language learners and gives them an opportunity to improve their lives.” How amazing is that?! I love that Silvia understands the power of the English language and the opportunities that it can provide an individual.

This may be one of my favorite TEFL stories yet. I know that getting certified and traveling to a new and exotic country is appealing. Heck, I did it right after college! But there is something so incredible about people using their TEFL skills in their own communities. Knowledge is power, and our teachers are sharing that power with people in their own neighborhoods.

So whether you’re a TEFL alum or someone thinking about getting TEFL certified- I hope that the Nantucket Community School gives you something to think about. My TEFL course starts on October 30th and I’m already starting to daydream about teaching my own ESL class in Portland…

Have questions about getting TEFL certified and/or teaching English as a foreign language? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at eberube@ciee.org!

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