Take Your English Language Teaching to the Next Level With Upskilling!

Do you picture yourself exploring new or better English teaching avenues but you’re unsure how to get there? Chances are, it’s high time for you to upskill to take your teaching to the next level! Let’s take a look at what upskilling is all about and the different areas you can tap into that can boost your job prospects.

What is upskilling and why is it important?

Teaching English is a constantly evolving career that can take you many places. You could thrive as an EFL teacher for kids in a school, for instance, or you could specialize in teaching technical English to a group of professionals. Reaching new heights in the TEFL field usually requires acquiring new teaching methods and practices, and this is where upskilling comes in.

As a professional development tool, upskilling is when you gain new skills or build on your existing ones. This may mean learning new competencies in order to take on different roles or updating your skill set to advance in your career. 

Whether you’d like to kickstart or pivot your English teaching career, you can benefit from upskilling in many different ways.

Upskilling prepares you for different teaching contexts. Nowadays, you can find a variety of English teaching jobs that require you to have a specific skill set, and this is mainly due to the fact that the needs and demands of English students have been constantly evolving. By upskilling, you can be ready for any opportunity that comes your way and be confident about committing to new jobs, no matter which type of learner or class you teach!

You can stand out. Especially in competitive markets, many employers prefer or give priority to English teacher applicants who have had additional training. Therefore, having upgraded skills can give you an edge and increase your chances of landing the jobs you’re targeting abroad.

It helps level up your career. If you wish to land higher-level jobs which may offer a better salary and work environment, adding new skills and knowledge is the way to go. These higher positions typically look for teachers with specific expertise or training, and upskilling gives you a chance to seize them and opens doors to even better opportunities.

It helps you grow as an English teacher. Upskilling is not just for making your resume shine! Aside from technical skills (e.g., teaching methods and using different tools), upskilling also allows you to develop the soft skills necessary to become a better teacher. These soft skills include creativity, problem-solving abilities, adaptability, or even just being able to lead your students to success!

In which areas can you upskill your English teaching career?

Although teaching abroad is usually the launching point in many English teachers’ careers, you can already plan the direction in which you’d like to head right from the start! However, you may be wondering, “Which career path should I choose when I start teaching English abroad?” The truth is, there are many possibilities for you! Here are some areas that you may consider upskilling in:

Teaching specific age groups

First, you can build your specialization in teaching English to learners of different age levels. Language learners are typically broken up into the following age groups:

  • Very young learners (under 5)
  • Young learners (6-12)
  • Teenagers (13-18)
  • Adults (18+)

The methods and teaching styles you’ll need to teach each age group vary, mostly because each one has different needs, personality types, and fluency levels. For instance, English classes with younger learners usually require tons of energy and fun activities, while adults learn English better when it’s more relatable to their lives and experiences.

The good news is that you can find training in teaching each age group. For example, you can take a Specialized course in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers, or you can take a Micro-credential course in Games and Activities for the Online Classroom for Adults if you want to make your lessons with older students more engaging.

Teaching specific English skills

For many English students, becoming fluent in the language means overcoming certain struggles. Some learners need to work on their grammar, while others want to improve their pronunciation. With this said, helping learners improve certain skills can be your expertise too. Aside from gaining new skills or techniques for brushing up your students’ listening and writing skills, you can also learn how to level up their speaking and writing abilities!

Can you get training in teaching these targeted skills, too? Definitely! You can take a Micro-credential course in Teaching English Pronunciation, for example, or a Specialized Certification course in Teaching English Grammar.

Teaching specialized areas

You can also upgrade your skills in order to teach various ESL niches, which are areas that cater to specific students’ needs or interests. Some of the in-demand niches you can specialize in are:

  • Teaching Business English
  • Teaching English proficiency test preparation (IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc.)
  • Teaching English to students in specific professions (e.g., hospitality, finance, medicine, etc.)

New to these specializations? No problem! Learning through courses, such as Micro-credential courses in teaching different English proficiency exams or a Specialized course in Teaching Business English, will help!

How can you upskill?

Now that you know the areas in which you can develop your skills further, you can work toward growing professionally as an English teacher. Here are the first steps you can take to get started:

1. First, take stock of your teaching goals, strengths, and interests. 

Answering the following questions may help you decide what skills to develop:

·   What do you have a passion for?

·   Which age group do you enjoy working with the most?

·   What is your teaching style?

·   Have you had experience working with a specific age group before?

·   Where would you like to teach (what country, what type of school or institution)?

·   Which age group or niche has the highest demand in the market or country you’re targeting to teach in?

Once you’ve determined the direction you’d like your career to go, you can then identify the skills you’ll need to acquire.

2. Get targeted training.

Next, choose the online TEFL certification programs that best suit your upskilling plan. You can browse through Specialized Certifications or Micro-credentials and pick the courses aligned with the teaching skills you want to build. And, don’t forget to always choose an accredited course provider so that you can be sure you’re getting quality training and an internationally-recognized certificate!

3. Put your new skills into practice!

After equipping yourself with a new skill set, it’s time to find the right place for you! Make sure to look for jobs where you can make the most out of your abilities. Working for schools and after-school tutoring companies, for instance, are best if you specialize in teaching kids. Meanwhile, English language institutes offer opportunities for teaching Business English. And remember, no matter where you work, upskilling never ends – you’ll keep gaining knowledge and experiences during your English teaching journey abroad, and you’ll always have so much room to grow.

The main benefit of upskilling as an English teacher is that you can take the next step in your career. By learning targeted skills and leveraging them in the best areas, there’s no doubt that you can stay on top of your game, even as the ELT field continues to evolve.

Bridge’s goal is to empower a global community of English teachers and support excellence in English language teaching. In addition to our accredited portfolio of TEFL courses, BridgeUniverse offers articles, eBooks, teaching resources, and more!

About Krzl Nuñes

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.
Filed under  TEFL/TESOL • Teacher Talk 

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