gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

Adding string to your bow with Dave Procter.

One of Dave's classes in Colombia
After graduating into a recession, many graduates turned to postgraduate study. These courses come in all shapes and sizes but are often very expensive and end up adding very little string to your metaphorical bow.

Well, here is a radical and much cheaper alternative that also enables you to travel more than any expensive Masters, and has guaranteed employment prospects wherever you are in the world. I’ve just completed a CELTA, which stands for Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults. Yes, it’s being an English teacher. Some people are turned off already, but let me sell it to you. English is the chosen language of the business world, and luckily for us, it’s our native one.

There’s a huge demand for native English teachers all over the developed, and increasingly and more importantly, the developing world. A quick search on Google will reveal hundreds of teaching opportunities in economic powerhouses such as Brazil and China. Some even with perks such as flights and furnished apartments included.

If you don’t want to be a part of communism in China or carnival in Rio, why not think about Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea, the world really is your oyster. I’ve taught in Chile and Colombia with the British Council Language Assistant Scheme, (unfortunately postponed due to the current spending review) and plan to return to Colombia next year. A country blighted by Western media reports of drug gangs, but home to some of the most beautiful and undiscovered places on the planet, with wonderful people to match.

All of this can be made possible with an outlay of about £1,000 and a 4-week intensive, or 4 month part-time, course. People often talk about TEFL, but this is usually just a weekend course, whereas CELTA is an internationally recognised qualification. As I said, it’s intense, but it’s worth it and you can see why it is so highly regarded.

Even if you don’t want to go abroad, you can get a job in good old ‘blighty. People pay a lot of money to come here to learn English and people that already live here such as economic migrants, their children and asylum seekers all need the language for their daily lives. Consequently, most major cities in the UK will have several English institutes at least. Then, think about government training schemes, we have illiterate people in this country too, and you could even teach in a prison if you want to.

You’ll never be a rich man by British standards, but you’ll be able to carve out a decent standard of living in most countries. Bored of a place after a year? Get on the Internet and up sticks to another city, climate, continent or hemisphere. I’m not thinking of doing this long term, but while you’re young, want to travel, meet all sorts of people and learn a new language, why not have a think about it for a few years and add a lot more than one string to your bow at the same time? We’ll all be working until we’re 70 anyway.


  1. First of all, thoroughly enjoyable blog.

    I thought I'd add a couple of comments to this article as EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching is my 'Gradult' plan for the foreseeable future. I did my Celta over the summer in London and now teach business and engineering students at a French university.

    One of the main advantages of going into the TEFL world is the speed at which you can become qualified. How many industries can you get into, fully qualified, after a month's training? And that's not because it's an easy job. Like Dave says, the Celta is social-life-destroyingly intense, but I found the mix of input sessions, written assignments and the all important teaching practice very instructive and worth the effort and money. The downside is you're on your own when it comes to learning the grammar, but you can teach yourself as you go along.

    Another advantage is the freedom of work. I want to go into teaching but didn't want to apply for a PGCE straight out of uni, and for me, TEFL is an ideal way to try out teaching, earn a respectable living and see a bit more of the world. Granted I've only hopped across the Channel, but English teachers are sought after in most non-Anglophone countries - the TEFL industries in South America and East Asia especially are booming.

    No, EFL teachers aren't the highest earners but you can forge a career in the industry nonetheless. Passing the Delta (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) takes you up to a new pay scale, after which you can qualify as a Celta or Delta trainer (to train people like me and Dave), not to mention the management side of the TEFL business. And if you get into 1-to-1 teaching or business English teaching, I hear there's a fair amount of money to be had.

    And if you've never seen yourself in front of a class, I think it's important to remember TEFL is very different from teaching in the public sector. First of all, you're teaching adults, so there's little in the way of behaviour management to worry about. The students are generally paying to be there (especially if you teach in Britain) so in most cases they're very motivated and enthusiastic. And although textbooks are involved, you don't have the pressure of a syllabus or exams hanging over your head. I like the fact that it really is about the teaching and interaction with students.

    And last thing, the government have agreed to continue funding the British Council Language Assistant Scheme for 2011/12 so plenty of options there.

    Keep writing! Gent

  2. Firstly, thoroughly enjoyable blog!

    Thought I'd add my two cents as TEFL is my 'gradult' plan for the foreseeable future.

    1) How many jobs can you get an internationally recognised qualification for in a month? Sure, your social life becomes a thing of the past but I thought the Celta was well worth the effort and money.

    2) TEFL offers some great job/travel opportunities. I've only hopped across the Channel but like Dave says, EFL teachers are sought after in most non-Anglophone countries, especially in South America and East Asia.

    3) There're some good career development opportunities - a Delta (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults), becoming a teacher trainer, and the whole management side of the industry.

    4) Even if you've ruled out public sector teaching, TEFL is quite different - little behaviour management and pastoral care, high levels of motivation among students, less of the 'teaching to a syllabus/exam' headache etc.

    A sound string to add to a bow, even teaching isn't your main career target.

  3. All very good points, would have liked to put some in the original article but we try to keep them fairly short and concise.
    Teaching isn't my main career plan at all, I'm thinking of doing it for 5 years then reassessing/seeing where I am. As the World Cup isn't coming to England, I was thinking of going towards it...Brazil 2014 is the goal! I think you could have a great life following major sporting events around the world!