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:

More blogs from Pearson

  • Students sat at a table with a teacher stood with them interacting with them

    Why don’t my students speak English in class?

    By Silvia Minardi
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Last year, I contributed to a national research project with an article titled “My Students Don’t Speak English in Class: Why?”. The title originated from a concern expressed by a language teacher involved in the project, highlighting a common challenge faced by numerous language teachers. The difficulty of developing learners’ production and interaction skills is a well-known issue in language education.

    Large and increasingly diverse classes, limited time, and learners’ reluctance to speak in class are significant hurdles. During pair and group work, students often revert to their first language (L1), they lack confidence in speaking activities and end up avoiding all interaction in English. These observations are consistent with recent Global Scale of English (GSE) research findings, which indicate that 52% of English learners leave formal education without confidence in their speaking skills.

    Factors contributing to learners’ reluctance

    Several factors contribute to students’ reluctance to speak English in class. Psychological barriers such as lack of motivation, shyness, low self-confidence, fear of making mistakes, anxiety and concerns about negative evaluation play a crucial role. Linguistic challenges, including limited vocabulary, poor pronunciation, and insufficient grammatical skills, further exacerbate the problem.

    Task-related issues can also hinder speaking, especially when tasks are not well-matched to the learner’s proficiency level or focus more on accuracy than communication. Additionally, the classroom environment may not always be conducive to speaking, particularly for learners who need more time to formulate their thoughts before speaking.

    Positive teacher impact

    Fortunately, teachers can positively influence these intertwined factors. By creating a supportive classroom atmosphere and implementing well-designed tasks that prioritize communication over perfection, teachers can encourage reluctant students to participate more actively in speaking activities.

    Leveraging technology: Mondly by Pearson

    One effective tool that can help address these challenges is Mondly by Pearson. This learning companion is especially beneficial for learners who are hesitant to speak in class. Mondly by Pearson offers over 500 minutes of speaking practice, encouraging learners to use English in real-life situations and tasks that prioritize action and communication over accuracy. This approach allows for mistakes - they are part of the game - thus fostering a positive mindset, which is essential if we want to enhance our learners’ speaking skills.

    AI-powered conversations

    A standout feature of Mondly by Pearson is its AI-powered conversation capability, thanks to advanced speech recognition software. Learners can engage in interactive role plays and conversations on topics of their choice, at their own pace, both in class and outside school. This flexibility helps build self-confidence and allows students to experiment with various production and interaction strategies. The instant feedback provided by Luna, the incorporated AI friend, is highly motivating and can significantly enhance the learning experience.

    Comprehensive skill development

    Mondly by Pearson is designed not only for speaking but also to develop all four language skills—listening, reading, writing and speaking—and is aligned with the Global Scale of English. The vocabulary for each topic is selected from the GSE vocabulary database, ensuring that learners are exposed to level-appropriate words and phrases.

    Integration into classroom teaching

    To facilitate the integration of Mondly by Pearson into classroom teaching, three GSE mapping booklets have recently been published. These booklets cater to different proficiency levels:

    • Beginner (GSE range: 10-42 / CEFR level: A1-A2+)
    • Intermediate (GSE range: 43-58 / CEFR level: B1-B1+)
    • Advanced (GSE range: 59-75 / CEFR level: B2-B2+)

    These resources provide practical guidance on how to incorporate Mondly by Pearson into lesson plans effectively, ensuring that the tool complements classroom activities and enhances overall language learning.

    Conclusion

    Encouraging students to speak English in class is a multifaceted challenge, but it is not insurmountable. By understanding the various factors that contribute to learners’ reluctance and leveraging innovative tools like Mondly by Pearson, teachers can create a more engaging and supportive learning environment. This approach not only boosts students’ confidence in their speaking abilities but also fosters a more inclusive and interactive classroom atmosphere.

    Embracing technology and aligning teaching practices with modern educational standards, such as the Global Scale of English, can lead to significant improvements in language proficiency and student engagement.

  • Business people sat at a table together, two of them shaking hands.

    Improving your business English vocabulary for the workplace

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    So, you’re thinking about brushing up on your business English and learning new business vocabulary. In today’s corporate world, having a good handle on basic business terms and business lingo can really set you apart. It’s not just about sounding smart in meetings or crafting the perfect email, though that’s part of it. It’s about feeling more confident and fitting in seamlessly with your colleagues and clients from around the globe. Plus, knowing the right words and phrases can help you navigate tricky situations, negotiate better deals, and make a great impression on customers.

    Whether you’re attending business meetings, writing emails, or networking with colleagues, a strong grasp of business English vocabulary can set you apart and open doors to new opportunities.

    So, let’s dive in and explore some ways to improve your business English vocabulary.

  • A young child smiling in a classroom with a crayon in his hand.

    Young learners of English deserve more

    By Ehsan Gorji
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Imagine a class of English language students aged 8 – 9 taught by a dynamic teacher they love. The young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The vibe they bring with them to the class, plus the dynamic teacher and the creativity she develops in her lesson plans, is fantastic.

    I have been observing trends in teaching EFL to young learners, and it is clear to me that school directors, syllabus generators, teachers, parents and learners are all satisfied with this image… “Hooray! Young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language. And the teacher is able to manage the class. Bravo!” But is it enough?

    What causes the lack of focus?

    It all begins with the coursebooks. If you take a coursebook for young learners and thumb through the ‘Scope and Sequence’ pages, you’ll see holistic definitions of language input in each unit. The school authorities then design a course based on the coursebook, and the snowball effect happens, whereby they design a course without specific details on what exactly to focus on.

    It is the teacher’s turn now. The creative and dynamic teacher provides an excellent classroom experience through which young learners can learn English together. She also assigns a piece of homework: write an email to a friend and tell her about your last holiday.

    When the teacher reviews the emails, she smiles as she finds many uses of the simple past tense—both in affirmative and negative forms. She then drafts an email thanking everyone and praising them generously. She includes a link to a PDF of other exercises to reinforce the grammar (the next day in class, they will review the completed handouts).

    This hardworking teacher tries to blend her style with digital literacy and applies creativity along the way. Everything seems perfect in her class, and she regularly receives emails from parents thanking her. Nevertheless, some questions remain: What was the task? What was the learning outcome? Which learning objective should have been tracked?

    Let’s reconsider the task – this time with our critic’s hat on – and analyze what has been taking place in this class. It is very nice that young learners sit together to learn English, and the teacher is able to manage the class successfully, but having fun and ease alone is not enough. We should aim for “fun, ease and outcomes”.*

    *Assessing Young Learners of English: Global and Local Perspectives, Dr Marianne Nikolov, 2016.

    Which important dynamics should be considered?

    The assigned piece of homework said: write an email to a friend and tell her about your last holiday. However, what actually occurred was a shift from this task to the students’ best performance in producing simple past-tense sentences. There are other important dynamics that have migrated out of the teacher’s focus. Did the students begin their emails appropriately? Was the tone appropriate? Did they pay attention to organizing their thoughts into sentences and paragraphs? Was the punctuation correct? Did they end their emails in the right way?

    If the coursebook had been equipped with clear and concrete learning objectives, the course directors would have employed them while designing study syllabuses, and the teacher would have used them when lesson planning. Consequently, the student’s formative and summative progress would have been evaluated against those detailed learning objectives rather than according to what some did better than the average.

    How can learning objectives be applied to tasks?

    With the Global Scale of English (GSE), publishers, course designers, teachers, and even parents can access a new world of English language teaching and testing. This global English language standard provides specific learning objectives for young learners that can be applied to tasks.

    For example, for our task, the GSE suggests the following learning objectives:

    • Can write short, simple personal emails/letters about familiar topics, given prompts or a model. (GSE 40/A2+)
    • Can use appropriate standard greetings and closings in simple, informal personal messages (e.g., postcards or emails). (GSE: 37/A2+)

    By applying language learning chunks – learning objectives, grammar and vocabulary – and identifying the can-do mission each one is supposed to accomplish, teaching and testing become more tangible, practical and measurable. Going back to my original scenario, it is excellent that young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language – provided that we know in detail which learning objectives to focus on, which skills to grow and what learning outcomes to expect.