4 career moves for enthusiastic teachers

Pearson Languages
three teachers sat at a table discussing

Have you been teaching for a number of years and are looking for ways to challenge yourself and share your experience and passion with others?

Many would love the opportunity to progress in their careers and try new things but have no idea how to get started.

So, let's look at several potential jobs for English language teachers, find out what they involve and how you can improve your chances of getting a foot in the door.

1. Materials Writing

For those with a passion for writing and an eye for detail, ELT materials development could be for you. While writing can be hard to get into, there are several ways to get involved - especially if you are persistent and build a portfolio.

Here are some of our top tips for aspiring materials writers:

  • Create your own materials in class and think of ways of adapting the current materials you use for different ages or levels.
  • Share the materials you make with other teachers and get them to give you feedback.
  • Review materials for a publisher. Not only will you start to think more critically, but if you do a good job they might commission you to do some writing for them. One way to discover these opportunities is by signing up for their newsletters or following them on Facebook or X.
  • Start a blog and share lesson tips, advice and activities with other teachers. If it becomes popular enough someone from a publisher might spot you and invite you along for an interview.
  • Join the ELT Teacher 2 Writer database, where you can create an account and publishers can contact you directly if they are interested in your profile.
  • Finally, write as much as possible - and get people to read your work. Listen to their feedback and take steps to constantly improve your output. You get better and faster at it at the same time.

2. Examining

If you like teaching exam classes, there's a good chance you'll enjoy examining too. Training to be a speaking examiner is a great way to earn some extra money and can also help you better understand test formats and mark schemes. This will certainly also benefit your students in the future too.

Specific requirements for examiners vary depending on the exam board. However, as a rule of thumb, you need a lot of experience teaching the level you wish to examine at. Here is an example job advert from Pearson outlining the expertise and competencies required to be a PTE General Examiner.

You can also check out the recruitment sites from Cambridge Assessment English, IELTS and Trinity to get more of an idea if you are eligible.

Like materials writing, examining can be very competitive, so here is some advice to help you get started:

  • Teach more exam classes. The more variety and levels you do, the more opportunities you'll have.
  • Familiarize yourself with the mark schemes to give you a deeper understanding of how examiners think. Most of this information can be found in teacher handbooks like this one for PTE.
  • Help organize mock exams at your school. This will give you valuable experience examining as well as organizing students and materials.
  • Start as an invigilator for written exams. If you do a good job, it'll show that you are competent and you'll learn more about how exam days are structured.
  • Contact your local exam center and introduce yourself. And who knows? They might even be recruiting.

3. Academic Management

Another common career goal for long-term English teachers is to become an Academic Manager or Director of Studies (DoS). A successful DoS assumes many roles; often having to organize teachers' schedules, deal with students' concerns, develop new courses, and find cover (or teach) classes at the last minute. They may also need to help with the school's marketing and business side, too.  

Many academic managers are employed internally, so get involved with what is going on at your school and apply for smaller coordination positions to see if it's something you enjoy.

You can also try:

  • Offering to help with placement testing of new students. This will help you get to know the type of students at your school and the objectives they have, and also learn more about the levels and courses on offer.
  • Not limiting yourself to teaching one kind of course. If you work at an academy that offers courses for young learners, teens, adults, exam preparation, business etc., try them all. A good DoS should be able to offer advice to all the teachers.
  • Taking a course - most academic managers will be expected to have an advanced TEFL qualification like a DELTA, an MA TESOL or something similar. Specific leadership and management courses are available for those who want to specialize in this area, such as Leadership in ELT.
  • Offering creative ideas or constructive criticism to the current management team about how the school runs and what you think could be even better.
  • Organizing an event for teachers and students to show you are interested and have the type of skills that are needed.
  • Apply for academic management positions in summer schools to give you a taste of what's to come.

4. Teacher Training

If you are interested in teaching methodologies and sharing your knowledge with others but not keen on the admin side, then teacher training might be for you.

As a teacher trainer, you may be required to run workshops on various topics, observe teachers and offer feedback and help with lesson planning. This means it's vital that you can listen to others carefully and clearly explain things.

Here are some ideas to give you a better chance of finding work as a teacher trainer:

  • Organize informal workshops at your school. Encourage teachers to share ideas that have worked well for them with the rest of the staff.
  • Try team teaching where you and a colleague teach a class together. It's a great way to learn from each other and give your students a new experience.
  • Practice giving feedback by doing peer observations with other teachers.
  • Submit a proposal for a conference to see if you enjoy presenting.
  • Mentor a new teacher at your school.
  • Take an advanced teaching qualification to boost your knowledge.
  • Find teaching work in a school that also run their own initial teaching qualifications like the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. If you impress the DoS with your teaching skills - they may recommend you get involved with the teacher training department.

Where to apply for jobs

The best place to look for new opportunities is often at the school where you currently work. Start by trying new things and showing an interest in the day-to-day running of the organization. Once you've got the attention of the management it will be easier to negotiate a new position. However, if you work at a small school with fewer chances to grow professionally, think about moving to a new school.

Other good places to look for new positions include:

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    If you are a student or one considering a gap year, the option of foreign exchange programs may have crossed your mind or been mentioned to you. More and more young people are taking advantage of exchange programs and reaping the transformative benefits that come with it.

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    What is a foreign exchange program?

    A foreign exchange program is an educational initiative where students have the opportunity to study abroad and immerse themselves in a different culture for a specified period, typically ranging from a few weeks to an entire academic year. These programs facilitate cultural exchange by allowing students to attend foreign schools or universities, live with host families or in dormitories, and engage in activities that foster intercultural understanding and personal growth.

    The primary aim of a foreign exchange program is to provide students with a global perspective, enhance their language skills, and expose them to different educational systems and cultural practices. By stepping out of their comfort zones, students can develop independence, adaptability and a deeper appreciation for diversity.

    What are the benefits of a foreign exchange program?

    1. Cultural immersion and global perspective

    Embracing diversity

    One of the most immediate benefits of an exchange program is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. Experiencing new customs, traditions and ways of life firsthand fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of global diversity. This cultural immersion helps break down stereotypes and broadens your worldview, making you more open-minded and adaptable.

    Develop cultural understanding

    Living in a foreign country teaches you how to navigate and respect different cultural norms and practices. This cultural competence is increasingly valued in our interconnected world, enhancing your ability to work effectively in diverse environments and making you a more attractive candidate in the global job market.

    2. Language proficiency

    Enhanced language skills

    For language learners, an exchange program is an opportunity to achieve fluency. Experiencing a language firsthand is one of the best ways to learn a new language. Being surrounded by fluent speakers provides constant practice and exposure, accelerating your language acquisition in ways that classroom learning alone cannot match. You'll develop better pronunciation, expand your vocabulary and gain confidence in your speaking abilities.

    Real-world communication

    Using a new language in everyday situations—whether it's ordering food, asking for directions, or making new friends—helps solidify your language skills in a practical context. This real-world communication practice is invaluable, ensuring that your language proficiency extends beyond textbooks and exams to actual, meaningful interactions.

    3. Academic and professional growth

    Academic enrichment

    Exchange programs often provide access to unique academic resources and teaching methods that differ from those in your home country. Exposure to new perspectives and approaches can deepen your understanding of your field of study and inspire new areas of interest. Additionally, studying abroad can enhance your academic credentials, making your CV stand out to future employers or academic institutions.

    Career opportunities

    Experience abroad signals to employers that you possess qualities like independence, adaptability and cross-cultural communication skills. These attributes are highly sought after in today’s job market. Moreover, the networking opportunities during your exchange can open doors to international internships, job placements and collaborations that might not have been available otherwise.

    4. Personal development

    Building independence and resilience

    Living away from home in a completely new environment challenges you to become more self-reliant and adaptable. You'll develop problem-solving skills, resilience and the ability to thrive outside of your comfort zone. These experiences build character and prepare you for future challenges, both personally and professionally.

    Forming lifelong connections

    The friendships and connections you make during your exchange program can last a lifetime. You'll meet people from various backgrounds, creating a global network of peers and mentors. These relationships can provide support, inspiration and opportunities long after your exchange program ends.

    Boosting confidence

    Successfully navigating life in a foreign country, mastering a new language, and achieving academic success abroad can significantly boost your confidence. This newfound self-assurance can positively impact all areas of your life, giving you the courage to pursue further opportunities and take on new challenges.

    5. Engaging with the local community

    Volunteer and community projects

    Many exchange programs encourage participants to engage with their host communities through volunteer work or community projects. This engagement allows you to give back to your host country, gain a deeper understanding of local issues, and develop a sense of global citizenship. It's a rewarding experience that fosters empathy and reinforces the importance of contributing to the wider world.

    Gaining valuable work experience

    Participating in volunteer and community projects during your exchange program can provide significant work experience that is highly attractive to future employers. These projects often involve teamwork, problem-solving and project management, all of which are essential skills in any professional setting.

    By contributing to local initiatives, you can demonstrate your ability to adapt to new environments, work with diverse teams, and handle responsibility. Furthermore, these experiences can fill gaps in your CV, showcasing your proactive approach to skill-building and community involvement. Engaging in meaningful projects not only supports your personal growth but also highlights your commitment to making a positive impact, a quality greatly valued in any career field.

    Where can I sign up for exchange programs?

    There are many organizations and programs that offer exchange opportunities for students and language learners. Some popular options include:

    • Study abroad programs through universities or colleges, which often have partnerships with foreign institutions. Check with your institution.
    • Government-sponsored programs such as Fulbright or Erasmus, (depending on your location).
    • Check non-profit organizations in your country, they may also offer exchange programs.

    Conclusion

    Taking part in an exchange program is a life-changing adventure that offers myriad benefits for students and language learners alike. From enhancing language proficiency and cultural awareness to boosting academic and career prospects, the experiences gained through an exchange program are invaluable. By stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new world, you open yourself up to endless possibilities, personal growth and a broader, more inclusive perspective on life.

    If you're a student or language learner considering an exchange program, seize the opportunity. The world awaits, and the benefits are boundless.

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