The vast majority of TEFL jobs are about teaching English to children and young learners. If you love kids, you can choose between thousands of jobs in language centers or public schools. But teaching children might not be for everyone – actually, what are the pros and cons?
Teaching abroad can be a daunting decision, but the choices don’t end when you book your flight. Once you’ve packed your suitcases, said goodbye to your family and close friends, have all your documents in hand and prepare to make your way to your destination, you have to decide:
Who will I be teaching? Should I be teaching English to children? If you’re weighing your options, that might be a fulfilling option to consider! This article will aid you in weighing the pros and cons of teaching children so that you can decide whether teaching children is the right job for you.
Table of Contents
- Teaching Children: What it Takes
- Pros of Teaching English to Children
- Cons of Teaching English to Children
- Where to Teach English to Children
- Emina Dedic
Teaching Children: What it Takes
Since you’re reading this article now, it may be safe to assume you have perused a TEFL job board or two. Take a quick glance through the job postings, and you may notice something: most of the opportunities listed are from employers looking to fill teaching positions for young learners. The demand is huge, the availability of positions vast, and the need immense. That may be tempting, and such a position may be perfect for you if:
- You have a lot of energy.
- You enjoy having creative tasks.
- You possess patience.
- You love children.
- You prefer active teaching.
Pros of Teaching English to Children
If that sounds like your personality profile, fantastic! There is a school eagerly waiting to scoop you right up. Before you sign on a contract’s dotted line, however, let’s delve into what the pros and cons of taking up such a teaching position are.
More Job Opportunities
As stated above, most of the opportunities you are apt to see on job boards and forums will be for young or early learners. Normally, students fitting this description are from the ages of 5-11, though some schools allow students as young as four. If you know that you want a job teaching English to children, there is no shortage of postings out there, so you can afford to be picky about what offer you take.
Imagine the field trips galore! Do you remember how fondly you looked forward to field trips when you were younger? Now, your students will be looking forward to those same experiences with you. You will have the opportunity to help them solidify fun memories that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Children are imaginative, creative, and brutally honest – they are an endless source of entertainment and energy. They love games, songs, dancing, and let’s face it, do we as adults ever really grow out of that? I don’t think so. The big difference now is that you get paid to have fun with some of the coolest human beings on the planet!
Seeing Progress First Hand
Kids soak up information swiftly. If you care about results and teaching to make a difference, teaching children may be the perfect option for you. They don’t see learning a language as a means to an end, but often love school and think of the experience as fun. As a teacher, it can be very personally rewarding to watch your students grow and develop intellectually over time and use the information they have learned in class outside of it.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 10)
Kids Are Cute
Do I really need to explain how cute kids are? They are the happiest little human beings on the planet, and all have their own distinct personalities. They say the funniest things and love you. It’s adorable.
Open and Receptive
The more creative an activity may be, the more younger learners are likely to enjoy it. Whether it’s a hands-on activity like making a craft, sharing a funny educational YouTube video, using regalia in the classroom, or including sports activities as part of a lesson, children tend to gravitate toward those activities. If you want to be creative in your classroom and use a variety of approaches while teaching and constantly like trying something new, teaching English to children may be a good fit for you.
Cons of Teaching English to Children
That description sounds pretty good, right? Not so fast, though! With all good things, there are some drawbacks. Let’s take a look into some of the perceived cons of teaching younger learners.
They Require Variety
It’s great that young learners respond to a variety of different activities and stimuli. However, it can be exhausting if you’re a teacher who values a routine and standard process of teaching. Feeling the need to constantly be coming up with the newest, biggest, trendiest ways to teach lessons for fear of becoming boring or sounding redundant can seem a bit anxiety-inducing to the teacher who likes teaching directly from the books and having discussions and debates about the subject matter.
They Don’t Have the Discipline
No two students are the same, and that can lead to some interesting situations. Not all students will enjoy learning, though most of them likely will. Some students will be unmotivated, lazy, boisterous, or naughty in the classroom. A teacher working with children will have to adaptable, patient but firm at the same time, and have to be strongly focused on classroom management in order to make sure lessons are completed properly and in the proper time frame.
They Need to Be Motivated
Learning for the sake of learning and the enjoyment of it is a foreign concept to young learners at this stage. In order to keep them interested in learning, teachers will need to focus on giving stickers, prizes, toys, and other means of reward to teach children that learning is a good thing.
Teaching proper behavior during this stage is just as important as teaching spelling to young learners and can take up a good amount of time in the classroom.
They Tend to Be Emotional
Children have a tendency to be emotional, sometimes for no discernable reason whatsoever. If you find yourself struggling with regard to dealing with strong emotions from others or simply don’t foresee yourself enjoying having to navigate those situations, then teaching children may not be for you.
Where to Teach English to Children
Have you made your decision? If you’re settled on a yes, your next step is to determine where you’ll be teaching English to children. The traditional classroom, one-to-one lessons, and even online lesson options can allow you to supplement your income while doing rewarding work if you know where to look to find those jobs. Options include:
- Home Tutoring
- International Schools
- For-Profit Language Training Schools
- Day Care Centers
- Kindergarten Schools
- Public Schools
- Online teaching
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As you can see, there is a little something for everyone no matter your teaching style. Whatever environment or age range of children you prefer, an opportunity is waiting for you to grab ahold of. Make the most of your job hunting time by knowing the best parts and pitfalls of the work you’re interested in and then go for it!
Emina Dedic was born in Bosnia but grew up in the US. She's a Director of Studies for an English training school in China, career student, writer, and political activist. Previously, she taught in Korea for two years and is passionate about educational topics.