How to be an ESL/EFL Teacher

So you want to know how to be an ESL/EFL teacher? Well, it is not as difficult as you might think. Nowadays, you don't need to have a degree in education to teach, especially if you plan to teach in non-formal schools.

how to be an ESL teacher
However, you have to complete a teacher training course before jumping into teaching. Some of the most popular English teacher training programmes are CELTA and TESOL. In addition to that, you may also have to spend some supervised classroom time. Most importantly, you will need to have a passion for teaching and the desire to learn more about the subject.

Passion for teaching is essential

To become an English teacher, you'll need to have a passion for teaching, especially if you are a non-native English speaker.

Education has always been in my family, with my father being a university lecturer and my mum as a preschool teacher. So it's almost like second nature for me to be a teacher. Despite that, passion still needs to be nurtured. We will go through this in the next paragraphs.

Read a lot!

Reading is an essential skill. You'll need to have a good grasp of grammar and the rules of style. However, if you already have excellent reading comprehension, you can start teaching English right away. Fortunately, there are several ways to prepare for these challenges and become a successful teacher. If you're passionate about the subject, you'll have to put in the necessary time to develop your teaching skills.

Moreover, there are a lot of great books dedicated to teaching English. Here are some highly recommended books you can read:
  • Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener
  • Penny Ur's 100 Teaching Tips by Penny Ur
  • The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer
  • Sound Foundation: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation by Adrian Underhill
  • Teaching English Grammar by Jim Scrivener
  • How to teach series from Pearson-Longman (there are around 8 books in this series).
  • Resource Books for Teachers series from Oxford (most of the books are great for teaching young learners).
Some books I mentioned here are books you have to read if you are preparing to take CELTA. Although the language has developed and we can find resources on the internet, I personally still read these books to refresh my knowledge.

Train yourself

If you want to teach in formal schools, of course, you need to have a degree in English education. However, having a degree in English education is not imperative if you plan to teach English in a non-formal language school. If you're looking to advance your career in English education, you can pursue an MEd or MAT.

Obtaining an advanced degree will enhance your chances of a better job and a higher salary. In addition, you'll be able to pursue niche roles like literacy specialists or even school principals. Master's level courses are the easiest way to fulfil continuing education requirements.

Don't feel discouraged if you haven't got your master's degree (I haven't!). You can train yourself to be an English teacher by taking a teaching licence.

Learn the language thoroughly

As an English teacher, you'll need to know how to read and write in the language. This is the most important aspect of teaching English. The language requires extensive knowledge and understanding of grammar rules and how to enforce them. Having a thorough understanding of these rules will help you in your job. You'll also need to balance individual student needs and participation in the classroom. This is why it's important to have a bachelor's degree in English or a teaching certificate.

Develop your interpersonal skills

Being a good English teacher is important. You should be able to communicate well with your students. You should be able to use technology to your advantage. In addition to that, you should have a good sense of humour. It'll make the work easier and help you build a rapport with your students.

My favourite ways to build a good rapport with my students are by having communicative activities such as playing games and having discussions. Being a mother of 3 kids, of course I don't have much time to prepare my own games (although I do create some whenever I have free time). That's why I was grateful when I bumped into Twinkl.

Twinkl is a site dedicated to educators that provides resources for children from 0 to 18. You can find various resources from different curricula in Twinkl. Besides English, Twinkl also provides resources for other subjects, such as Geography, Math, and Science.

Here are my to-go resources from Twinkl.

Remember that being a good English teacher requires a clear understanding of grammar and vocabulary. You'll need to communicate with your students and provide feedback on their work.

Consider taking licence to teach

You'll also need a teaching licence to teach English in other countries. You can choose to teach in Indonesia if you're a native English speaker from an English-speaking country. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can be an English teacher and teach at any school. In most cases, the program requires a one-year commitment to prepare you to become a professional in your field.


The bottom line is if you want to start a career as an ESL/EFL teacher, make sure you have the passion. Having some training on how to teach will also help you be a successful teacher.  

So, are you ready?


  1. thank you for information, but I have to learn English more xixixi...

  2. An english teacher must know how to read and write in the language ... nah saya garis bawahi bagian ini. Sayangnya masih ada yang tidak paham tentang ini. Tidak tahu bagaimana membuatnya mengerti soalnya yang guru dia bukan saya :D

  3. I like English but I don't think I have the passion. Thanks for your information and recommendations

  4. Saya baca postingannya sambil pelan-pelan mengerti arti postingannya. Hehehe. Jujur aja, saya masih kurang banget nih untuk urusan pengetahuan berbahasa Inggris. Hiks. Jadi pengen belajar lagi~ dulu pas belajar di sekolah, kayaknya kurang nyimak hahahahah

  5. I am looking for the information about it for several days, then I found here in your website Mba Tya, I think I have to try this, even I don't have a degree in education

  6. Aku kagum deh sama para pengajar bahasa Inggris, karena aku pribadi gak bakal ready, nggak bisa dan bukan passionku, hiks. Tapi banyak loh pengajar bahasa inggris yang gak sedetil Miss Tya gini, padahal kalau detil secara pendidikan dan lisensi bisa mengajar anak-anak dengan baik juga

  7. Adekku lulusan sastra inggris kerjanya jadi wali kelas. Padahal aku sarankan untuk jadi penerjemah bersertifikat aja

  8. Punya sertifikat memang bisa menjadi nilai tambah ya kalau kita mau melakoni profesi tertentu. Hal itu bisa menjadi bukti kalau kita sudah profesional dan berpengalaman

  9. Ternyata seorang guru Bahasa Inggris ada licence to teach yaa, miss Tya.
    Aku salut dengan dunia mengajar ini. Pasti butuh banget waktu untuk meningkatkan skills agar semakin bisa memberikan ilmu yang bermanfaat dengan cara yang menyenangkan.

  10. Enggak mudah memang ya, jadi guru. Apa lagi guru yang melakukan semua hal di atas, pasti berkualitas sekali jadinya.

  11. Walau bacanya pakai google translate tapi kyanya saya harus banyak belajar bahasa Inggris nih hehe jgn lupa mampir kesini juga ya guys :

  12. Kami sekeluarga sebenarnya pekerjaannya hampir semua adalah guru/ dosen.
    Tapi kalau gak ada dorongan tuh, rasanya mengajar termasuk yang agak sulit buatku. Padahal kalau dipikir-pikir, akutu tipe extrovert. Ternyata butuh pelatihan mengajar dulu ya..