Branching Out: Other Work For EFL Teachers

branches1.jpgIt can be lucrative or at least interesting to branch out from teaching work to other outlets, but it usually takes a lot of initiative and time to build up contacts. Here are the pros and cons as I see them in the following areas:

Teaching privately – the upside is you generally make more than a school pays you for the same amount of work and you can meet some pretty neat people, sometimes in their homes or workplaces. The downside is that students cancel or change plans frequently, often at short notice, and you need to find your own materials (the British Council may be a good resource). See the TEFL Logue post on Teaching Privately for more info.

Other language work, such as proofreading or translating – the upside is that this can often be done from nearly anywhere, so if you build up enough contacts to have regular work coming in, you can work remotely. Pay will vary widely depending on, as most work does, location, competition, and your qualifications.

The downside is that these are detail-oriented jobs which might not appeal to everyone – teaching is often more “fun”. Proofreading depends highly on contacts and personal recommendations in my experience, and it takes time to build these up. People actually study translation, and not only the language they translate, and you need a very high level of both languages to be competitive in this field. You might also consider becoming an examiner or a rater for the Cambridge Exams or the TOEFL/TOEIC tests.

Other “be your own boss” situations – if you’ve got an entrepreneurial bent, you may well be able to identify a niche that you can fill after getting accustomed to the area while you teach. Start a second-hand book store specializing in English books, create your own office to assist foreign business people’s quests for local business visas, or write for an English language newspaper. Heck, start your own! Be warned that making these dreams a reality takes money and a gigantic dose of enthusiasm. Figuring out regulations for running your own business in your own country is a challenge – there will be even more obstacles waiting for you in a foreign country. But the rewards of this kind of branching out are pretty neat.

Also read the TEFL Logue’s take on Career Advancement within TEFL.