Newly TEFL Certified? How to Gain Teaching Experience and Get Jobs Abroad!


Ready to switch careers from social work to teaching English, Jennifer earned her TEFL certification with plans to get a teaching job in Costa Rica. Without much previous teaching experience, she found creative ways to add this component to her resume before applying for jobs, in order to be a more competitive candidate. These are her tips! 

When I decided to take the plunge and get certified to teach English abroad, it was all new to me. Sure, I had a degree in English and a pretty good command of grammar, but what did I know about teaching? I signed up for an onsite TEFL course and got some practice teaching under my belt, but I wanted more. What I was looking for was a hands-on experience– something to put on my resume to set me apart from other newbies, and help me land a job abroad!

Sound familiar? For many who enter the TEFL field, be they recent college grads, career changers or even retirees, this may be their first real experience in front of a class. What’s more, those who have gotten certified online likely didn’t complete a teaching practicum at all, so they, especially, need the extra resume boost of teaching experience.

So how can you get TEFL experience before you land your first job? I’ve got a few suggestions for doing just that:

1. Volunteer teach in your community

Within your community, there are many opportunities to teach English as a second language, and by volunteering, you’ll not only benefit yourself but help others along the way. Refugee centers, immigrant service organizations, local churches, and public schools are all places where English teachers are needed. Before I went to Costa Rica to job search, I approached a local high school and asked if the ESL teacher needed a classroom assistant. She did, and I spent a few months working alongside her, which boosted my confidence and my resume!

2.  Do some private EFL tutoring

One-on-one tutoring is a great way to practice your TEFL skills and add a “job” to your teaching resume. There are many ways to do it, and they’re all valuable. Craigslist is one place you can post an ad, or you could put up flyers in places like libraries or grocery stores to recruit students. If you aren’t yet comfortable charging for your services, offer free tutoring. You could even advertise a language interchange to improve your skills as well as your partner’s.

Some online tutoring companies you can check out are, or

3. Add a teaching practicum to your online TEFL certification

There are going to be some employers around the world that will prefer teachers with TEFL certifications that included an observed and assessed teaching practicum. While teaching practicums are included in onsite TEFL courses, such as the IDELT, if you got certified online, your course probably didn’t include a practicum.

However, it is possible to add a teaching practicum to your online certificate! BridgeTEFL offers a specialized certificate, Guided Teaching Practicum, which includes 5 hours of hands-on teaching practice in a real EFL classroom. The Guided Teaching Practicum course can be combined with any of BridgeTEFL’s other online courses, or to any other online TEFL certification, to make you more competitive for EFL jobs across the globe.

Read an article about the benefits of adding a Guided Teaching Practicum!

4. Teach English online

This growing field provides a wealth of opportunity to gain experience as an online TEFL teacher. In recent years, the field of teaching English online has skyrocketed, so much that BridgeTEFL has developed its own course to prepare future TEFL teachers for the virtual classroom: The 100-hour Advanced Methods in Teaching English Online course!

I taught online and loved the fact that I could do it from anywhere in the world, I started in the U.S., and continued tutoring in Morocco, to supplement my teaching income. I even supported myself with my online tutoring job while volunteering on a donkey ranch in Spain! Teaching English online provides the opportunity to get TEFL experience from the comfort of your own home or while you travel, but those are not the only reasons why it has become increasingly popular. Many online English teaching jobs require little or no previous teaching experience, making it the perfect opportunity to get your foot in the TEFL door. Check out this interview with Colby, an online English teacher in China.

So, are you ready to make the move from TEFL newbie to a seasoned professional? Teaching experience is within reach for everyone, and I encourage you to get out there, get TEFL experience, and get the best jobs abroad!


Read additional tips on how to find a TEFL job. Already landed your first job? Read these tips on how to succeed as a new TEFL teacher.