Necessity is the mother of invention, and college students know it far too well, as the cost of higher education continues to grow. Despite grants and loans, the financial day-to-day struggle of university life is real, and students have had to sharpen their ingenuity to make ends meet.
When saving money is paramount, smart shopping is one of the skills that are easy to master. Need clothes? Charity/thrift/second-hand shops have everything for a wardrobe update. Need food? Avoiding expensive takeaways or unhealthy fast food, these young adults have learned to cook lovely meals from scratch. When it comes to buying ingredients, the smarter option is to shop at the end of the day, when many items are available at a reduced price.
Sometimes, however, being frugal is just not enough – finding a source of income seems the obvious alternative. But a college student’s daily schedule is pretty busy, between lectures to attend and coursework to get done. It isn’t always easy to find a flexible part-time job that works around university life.
Although there are many ways of making money on the side while studying, only a few can be as fulfilling (and as convenient) as teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). If you have strong English language skills, as a native speaker or at a near-native level, you can help those whose first language is not English. Online or in-person, you can help them improve their language ability while developing your own transferable skills and making some money along the way.
Why is TEFL suitable for university students?
Although it is preferred, holding a degree is not necessary to teach English as a foreign language. That said, university students working towards their degree have an advantage over candidates who haven’t got any further education qualifications.
A TEFL certificate is strongly recommended, however.
TEFLing without qualifications
If you are a college student interested in the English language but without a TEFL certificate, you might find these ways of earning some cash interesting:
- Language videos/blog posts. A way to make some passive income is to monetize your blog and YouTube videos. There are already plenty of those out there, but presenting aspects of the English language from a different angle or tackling specific language learning issues can be the key to gaining followers and making some cash.
- Language learning materials. Within the TEFL context, there’s great demand for effective and engaging materials either for self-study or for teachers to use in their lessons. If you are not keen on direct interaction with learners, consider writing reading texts with activities, quizzes, or grammar reference tips. These can be made available on platforms (or on your own website!) for English students and teachers to download – and you get paid for it!
- Conversation classes. Languages are all about communicating and most of it happens verbally. It’s a well-known fact that conversation practice is fundamental for the consolidation of foreign language acquisition. If you enjoy human interaction, online or face-to-face, this could be a great option. Setting up classes where discussions and debates on everyday topics take place is cheap and easy: at a coffee shop, for example, or on a free online platform.
- Language swaps. If you are a student of Modern Foreign Languages, this won’t make you earn money, but it will save you some – while helping your language practice. Find a speaker of the language you’re studying who is also interested in improving their English and organize some informal language exchange sessions. They would be beneficial for both of you!
- Teach English. Although finding teaching work would be considerably harder, you could still teach English as a foreign language without a TEFL qualification.
Advantages of teaching English as a foreign language
What are the lifelong skills that running your own classes helps you develop?
- Commitment. Planning and showing up for your lessons require dedication and self-discipline. These are values that potential employers never underestimate.
- Flexibility. Any kind of teacher has to think on their feet. This is because lessons don’t always go as planned and you should be prepared to adapt and adjust as you go along. This is pretty much what happens in most work scenarios, and employers are always on the lookout for flexible employees.
- Resourcefulness. Critical thinking and problem-solving go a long way, in the classroom and in any other area of work. Teaching English as a foreign language can help you improve your innate ability to find solutions (or alternative ways) every time obstacles occur.
The benefits of a TEFL course
Whether you are interested in getting into teaching or not, successfully completing a TEFL course can be very beneficial to your future career.
- Employability. A TEFL qualification looks good on your CV, as it shows potential employers that you welcome new challenges and have an open-minded disposition.
- Opportunities. As mentioned before, finding English teaching work without qualification is tough. With a TEFL certificate, you’ll have more chances of securing students for long or short courses whenever it suits you. This is an excellent money-making option for those summer breaks.
- Confidence. Students trust confident teachers, but teaching can be tricky. Attending a TEFL course will give you the tools to become an effective and confident English teacher. From in-depth language skills to lesson planning, from assessing learners to classroom management, an accredited course will cover all aspects to help you teach with confidence. But that’s not all. Generally speaking, talking in front of a room full of people takes guts. The teaching practice carried out during an accredited TEFL course gives you the opportunity to become comfortable in front of a crowd.
Life as a college student is expensive. Even without qualifications, dipping your toes in the TEFL industry can help you make (or save) some money. How?
- Creating useful videos and blog posts aimed at English language learners;
- Producing language learning/teaching materials for students and teachers;
- Run conversation classes in English for language learners;
- Organize foreign language exchange sessions;
- Teach English as a foreign language, online or in-person.
You’ll soon discover that there’s a lot more to gain in TEFL than just money!