Transferrable skills gained working in TEFL (useful for a different career)

TEFL teachers will develop a range of skills in a international context that allow them to work in other jobs and industries in the future making it a great choice of career for personal and professional development.

In the modern economy many young people will work a variety of roles in a variety of industries. New teachers may see TEFL as a stepping-stone from where they can progress into other careers. The good news is that working as a TEFL teacher and gaining experience of working abroad develops skills that can be of use in many other industries and roles. When moving between industries it is important to highlight transferable skills – the skills you bring from one role and will be useful to another. 

Generally, work skills from TEFL are divided into 3 sets: People, Management and Organisational skills.

People skills

People skills, soft skills or interpersonal skills are fundamental for teaching and will develop during your time in and around the classroom. Within the TEFL industry you will develop these skills in an international context.

A typical day for a teacher may involve working with other teachers on course preparation, helping a 12-year-old student struggling with homework and then speaking to a parent about the child’s progress. During these varied interactions you will have to use a range of interpersonal skills such as problem solving, communication and exercising judgement both with colleagues and your clients. 

Patience is another skill you will need an abundance of in teaching and these skills will be applicable in any situation where you are working in a team and negotiating with others.

In the classroom the teacher will take on a leadership type role, cultivating respect from students. As a leader you will inspire students in their studies. When working at summer schools where you will engage with the students outside of the classroom have some involvement in pastoral care you will be expected to act closer to a role model.

The majority of the TEFL industry is private education where students and parents are a school’s clients. Developing a rapport with students by delivering good classes and follow-up support is client management for the TEFL industry, ensuring happy customers.

Communication and explanation are fundamental skills of teachers. You will learn to communicate clearly and simply, and structure your explanations of concepts, then monitor how well your students understand. Internal and external communications are hugely important to companies and organisations as both a career in their own right or in virtually any other role.

Management & Organisational Skills / Working under pressure / Problem solving

In the classroom the teacher is in charge. They may have to manage students, keep them engaged, mark homework, expose them to new language, practise this and ensure the students all feel secure in the class and enjoy themselves.

The teacher will develop strategies to manage the class and structure learning over an entire course, keeping activities fresh and interesting. Classroom management requires teachers to lead classes, problem solve and be sensitive to the needs of students. These people management skills are useful in other careers where more senior positions involve managing teams.

Teachers will also be required to demonstrate problem solving. In the planning process part of a lesson plan is to identify potential problems that may arise and make contingency plans. In addition, there are always issues that arise in class and haven’t been planned for; a teacher will have to problem solve on their feet, maintain flow of the lesson and achieve its objectives.

Much of a teacher’s strategy for teaching classes will be built around meeting deadlines. This involves covering the necessary material during the course, getting plans and material ready for a class or preparing students for exams. Teachers will have to deal with pressure to meet the expectations of their students and this capacity to work to deadlines, stay calm and achieve results is highly transferable.

Ability to work independently and makes decisions

A teacher will take responsibility for the planning and delivery of an English course from the start of their career. Teacher development is mostly learned independently through trial, error and self-assessment. Mastering your topic, working independently and taking responsibility for you students learning and results are highly transferable skills. This process will improve capacity for independent thinking, during every lesson you will be making lots of quick informed decision about the best way to achieve objectives. 

When marking a teacher will refer to curriculums and have to grade students, offer feedback and write reports. This is an important part of teacher student interaction, and highly important for demonstrating to students your attention to their learning to ensure they get the best for the course.  


The most critical skills for TEFL teachers are people management, communication and the ability to work independently. These are transferable to many other careers and are enhanced by the fact TEFL teachers work in an international context.