This is a guest post written by staff at i-to-i, providing some examples of how they believe TEFL can help you develop and evidence some commonly sought-after skills. If you would like help reflecting on your skills or considering how you can develop them, or information on more skills which recruiters often require, see the make yourself employable section of our website or come in and speak to us.
Here at i-to-i towers we spend a lot of time talking to graduate employers. Whilst they’re generally a friendly bunch there is one thing that gripes them and that’s a lack of ‘soft skills’ possessed by graduates. Here are four of the top skills requested and how TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) can help you learn them:
1) Communication- Oh, it’s always top of the pile! But having good communication skills doesn’t just mean being able to have a natter on the phone to your friends. Great communicators, the kind that businesses are looking for, are able to persuade people round to their way of thinking and draw the best results from a team.
TEFL example: How many graduates do you think will have managed a group of 50 teenagers? How many will have persuaded them to study hard? How many will have done that in a language that those teenagers have limited knowledge of? If you have, you’ll stand out.
2) Problem solving- No, we don’t mean the Sudoku kind, although that might help if you’re after an accountancy role. Graduate employers want to see that when you encounter an issue you keep level headed and don’t give up if the first solution you try doesn’t work out.
TEFL Example: If you spend a year overseas without encountering any language barriers, cultural difficulties or challenging students you probably didn’t leave Heathrow. But as the saying goes, it’s not what happens but how you deal with it that counts! Did you encourage that student to learn through identifying what was important to them? Did you use charades to buy a bus ticket in China? You’ve just solved that awkward interview question.
3) Leadership- Whilst you won’t be sitting at the CEO’s desk from day one, graduate employers do want to know that in the long run you’ll have the confidence and ability to lead staff.
TEFL Example: Students and staff have the same fundamental requirements. They need to feel valued, engaged and challenged. If you can run a successful classroom, you can run a successful office.
4) Diplomacy – One major complaint of graduate employers is that whilst graduates have plenty of confidence they sometimes lack diplomacy skills. Marching into the office on the first day and announcing that the business requires a full systems overhaul is unlikely to make you popular.
TEFL Example: How did you go about turning down a colleague’s invitation to eat her silkworm soup? Working overseas will teach you diplomacy by the bucket load, and equip you with lots of interesting interview examples!
Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought; whether you have already done TEFL, are considering it, or even in helping you reflect on the skills you have developed from other experiences. If you are considering undertaking a TEFL qualification, there are many courses and opportunity providers. Remember you can always come and talk to us for impartial guidance if you are struggling to decide which is best for you.