The truth is; to teach English, you only need to speak English. You don’t need to be bilingual. In fact, you don’t even need to know the basics of another language to teach anywhere abroad. You can teach in Chile without knowing ‘Hola’, or China without knowing ‘Ni hao’. As long as you’re a native English speaker, you’re good to go.
Here’s a basic, but real life example. You are a teaching of students who speak zero English. Not even ‘hello’. You walk in the door and wave. Greet each student individually by saying ‘hello’. A couple of students will mimic you and soon they have all learned their first name. You then point to you name badge and say ‘My name is Jim’. Repeat it to each student. The students may mimic you again and say incorrectly, ‘My name is Jim’, until one catches on and tells you their name correctly. This is a very basic example of how language can and is successfully learned through immersion.
2. Body Language
You can teach more effectively than you might think though motions. There are a vast amount of actions that people around the world usually agree on. Think big, angry, stop, tall, eating etc. You can get your point across most of the time.
In fact, one thing you will be required to do in a CELTA course is to sit through a lesson in a language you don’t know with zero English. Not only does it help you empathize with your future students on how hard learning a new language is, but also shows you just how easy it is to learn through body language.
3. students most likely speak some English
On your first day, it may seem like none of your students can speak English or understand you, but the likelihood is just that they’re probably shy. You’ll probably be teaching students who have been studying English since they were 5 or 6 and have a solid grasp on the fundamentals, but are a long way from fluent or conversational.
4. you don't need a second language for day-to-day life
But how can I order food at a restaurant? How can I take the bus? How can I go shopping? Believe it or not, you don’t need to speak a word of any language to do any of those things. Order food: point at the menu. Take a bus: hope on and give the driver money. Go shopping: Go to the clerk and look at the total price on the screen.
There will be some things you will need help with such as setting up a bank account or getting a phone. Your school will help you with these things! That’s their job.
If you are still really stuck, you’ll usually have your friends to turn to, or even someone from a language exchange job. It is mutually beneficial, as you are getting help with a service and they’re are practicing English in a real world situation.
5. Teachers who don't seek a second language are sought after
When I was teaching English in Ecuador, classroom time was English only for the teachers. My bilingual coworkers would often get in trouble from the English supervisor for speaking Spanish in class. She never had to worry about me as I couldn’t speak Spanish. It might seem strange, but it was looked on favorably that I couldn’t speak Spanish!
6. Local bilingual teachers are already in large supply
Local teachers are in large supply, but short demand. This is the opposite to native English teachers abroad, who are few in number and high in demand. You as a native English speaker are more sought after than local teachers. For every native English teacher in the country, there are 10 other non-native local English teachers.
7. You'll pick up the language when you arrive anyway
You mightn’t stay long enough to become fluent in the language, but you will pick up bits and pieces of the language. There’s no avoiding it. After 6 months, you’ll know enough vocabulary to get around comfortably and not feel clueless anymore.
8. The demand is so high, it doesn't matter anyway
9. Your friends will speak English
Your other foreign friends will speak their native English with you. Most people teach abroad solo and are just as nervous and excited about it as you are. They’ll be looking to make friends with the first English speaking person they find!
Do you have anything else to add to this list? We'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.