As a global language, English is in demand worldwide for various reasons, from entertainment to degree requirements to work. With that in mind, simply by joining the industry, you’ll be making a difference, regardless of the capacity that you decide to join it in.

For those unsure as to the shape your English teaching career could take, these are some of the various paths you could pursue.

Get Qualified

The most important first step towards becoming an English teacher is getting your TEFL qualification. The industry standard is 120 hours, and the best part is that you can complete it online or in person, depending on where you’re based. Much like how your qualification could take you almost anywhere in the world, you can be based wherever you want while undertaking your training.

If you’re interested in making as much of a difference as possible, you could also consider taking some additional, supplementary courses. Learn how to teach Business English, young learners and prepare students for exams to maximise your potential. For more information on TEFL requirements, check out the TEFL org survey here.

Teach kids

Teaching young learners English can be beneficial to them in many ways, regardless of whether you are teaching in schools abroad, or travelling with your computer and teaching online around the world. In a world now accustomed to utilising technology, you can still make a difference as an English teacher from behind your screen, as explores in further detail.

Language learning at a young age has the advantage of children being able to learn unconsciously and absorb and reproduce what you teach more easily, instead of grappling with understanding the various grammar rules. Choosing to teach kids English thus means setting them up for a world of possibilities.

Teach students

While you may encounter students who already have a strong understanding of the language, many will still need a hand with passing the various English exams required for university and the working world. When it comes to getting the best mark possible, knowledge of the language alone is not enough.

You can make a difference as an English teacher by teaching your students exam-targeted skills, such as skim-reading, identifying listening distractors and structuring essays in English. Once they’ve got these down, English exams will no longer be obstacles standing in the way of them being able to pursue higher education wherever they want in the world or landing their dream job.

Teach academics

Despite it being highly likely that many academics engage with the English language regularly, due to the vast majority of scientific papers being in English, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are confident users of the language.

Teaching English to academics, therefore, can help them address any doubts they have or repeated mistakes they make with the language so that they can feel at ease contributing to the world of academia.

In addition to this, a little bit of general knowledge can go a long way. Perhaps they have mastered academic writing in English but have some vocabulary gaps when it comes to making small talk at conferences. Some conversation-focused lessons in this case can do a world of good and help academics feel comfortable in any work-related situation they find themselves in.

Teach Business English

With English as the global language of business, a basic understanding of it is vital. Moreover, it will be expected for companies that operate internationally. With this in mind, teaching Business English can make a huge difference as you’ll be teaching your students more specific vocabulary they won’t have studied at school as well as skills to hold their own in any work situation.

The value of learning this niche of English lies in the mishaps and potential faux pas you can avoid. It is just as important to know how to send a well-written, diplomatic email as it is to understand your client’s accent and frequent use of business idioms and phrasal verbs.

Teach migrants

Moving country is already a mammoth task in itself and not knowing the local language can make that even harder. Nonetheless, even if you’re not moving to an English-speaking country, knowing English can help circumvent those communication problems.

There are approximately 1.35 billion English speakers in the world, around 360 million of whom are native speakers, so the odds of meeting people who speak English, wherever you are in the world, are in your favour.

While they may want to eventually learn the local language, teaching English to migrants or people about to migrate will allow them to start tackling those initial tasks of setting up their new life. These can be as mundane as registering in their new country or as simple as getting their shopping done.

Teach General English

You don’t necessarily have to think big when it comes to making a difference in the world by teaching English abroad. General English has its own purpose too and can allow people to retire and travel the world without worrying about not being understood.

What’s more, you can easily tailor your lessons to suit the conversational needs of your students and hone in on the areas they are most insecure about. Activities like roleplay following pre-teaching of relevant vocabulary can really help in these types of classes.

Alongside this, teaching General English gives people the opportunity to enjoy various forms of entertainment, such as books, TV shows, and films in the original language. While we live in a world where it’s easy enough to change the language on Netflix or rely on translations, knowing English gives people the opportunity to discover a side of the world that can get lost in translation.

Overall, if making a difference by teaching English abroad is your aim, then the best thing you can do is get TEFL qualified. Making a difference takes many different shapes and forms in the ESL industry, and pursuing your interests in English teaching goes hand in hand with helping others. What niche you choose is ultimately up to you.


Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.

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