Recently, a trainee teacher on the CertTESOL asked me what I did before TEFL teaching. It took me by surprise. I suddenly thought, hang on, so many people come into language teaching from other professions, as a second or third career, am I in the minority in the industry?
I studied Linguistics and French at Uni, then went straight into teaching, and worked my way up the ladder, through being a senior teacher, Assistant Director of Studies, Director of Studies, EAP lecturer, Director of Teacher Training, and now owning and running a Validated Training Centre.
Then, the part which made me sit down and reach for my pipe and slippers, I've been in the language industry for 23 years. Thing is, I can't imagine doing anything else; my wife retrained to become a teacher, and our son has grown up living around the world, it's what we've always done.
The question made me think about how many trainees on our courses are making the change from jobs they’ve also been doing for years. Even before the pandemic, every course I've trained on had career changers looking to qualify as teachers and work the TEFL industry, at home, or abroad.
Believe me, my family and I have done enough international moves to appreciate the bravery and commitment it takes to leap into a totally new life, whether that's moving countries, or changing careers.
Making a life change isn’t easy, whether you have to learn a new language or a new skill, or move your life online, it can feel like you are being thrown in at the deep end. On our courses, our tutors are experienced at working with trainees with little to no experience of teaching, mentoring, or even speaking to groups of people with confidence.
This is a key part of what we do, and often the less experienced trainees perform better on the course. They have more to learn, but fewer old habits to unlearn before they start applying the skills that they are developing.
Making a career change is challenging at the best of times, but helping our trainees make the best career change in challenging times is what we do.