TESOL courses for retirees and mature learners

TESOL courses for retirees and mature learners


Mature teachers are pouring into TESOL

Over the past five years, the number of people taking up TEFL or TESOL courses in the over 50’s age range has quadrupled, according to research conducted by Global English TESOL.

As a leading course provider with over 25 years' worth of training history, we have been comparing data from 2018–2022 against historical trends from 1997–2017. We have discovered that people over 50 are four times more likely to enrol on a TESOL since 2018. This indicates a significant shift in our industry, which was associated by many as something just for young people on a gap year.

So what’s driving these changes? Why are mature candidates enrolling on courses, and where are they going?

We wanted to try to understand some of the drivers for change, so we conducted a survey and asked trainees what made them opt for a TESOL course not at this time of life. The facts we discovered are surprising but correlate almost exactly with our data comparisons.


Insecurity of income in later life

Protecting an income stream for later living was the number one reason given by mature TESOL trainees opting for a Global English course. In the UK, the Government made a change on 1st July 2017, which was to start to increase the minimum age for both men and women to qualify for a pension. For men and women born on or after 1 July 1952, the pension age now progressively increases by 6 months every 2 years, until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023.

However, according to Which.co.uk, a further rise to 68 between 2044 and 2046 is scheduled, for those born on or after 1977. 

This means that some in our older generations are going to have to think about postponing early retirement or at least generating some earnings in retirement. The great thing for seniors is that there is no age limit for taking a TESOL course. At Global English, our oldest trainee completed a course with us at the age of 84 last year! There’s no age limit on teaching English either.

On average, EFL teachers can expect to earn between £10 and £30 per hour, based on experience and what they are teaching (you’ll receive more for teaching business English, for example). Global English courses are relatively inexpensive and of great value, given the wealth of practical training experience candidates receive. Also, courses are easily accessible and can be completed typically within four to six weeks. Mature teachers can then use their new TESOL qualification to start earning an income straight away and work from home or anywhere in the world.


Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on TESOL

We must not underestimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 onwards. The TESOL/TEFL industry has seen a seismic shift during this time and this is the second reason Global English mature teachers give for seeking new challenges.

All travel stopped, language schools in English speaking destinations like the UK, Australia and the US closed, and around the world, people took up virtual learning.

Many of us became Zoom experts overnight as retirees decided to explore new subjects and took the opportunity to upskill, training to teach English for a second career.

Indeed, this shift to online learning has provided fantastic opportunities for mature students, who see the appeal of working from home and not having to commute to an office or a classroom. The online teaching experience is probably best for freelancers and many mature candidates see English teaching as a supplement to their main teaching or volunteering role. It's a way of providing stable, easy income and enjoying relationships with English learners all around the world.

Instead of you being in one country and teaching just people from there, your students can come from anywhere, so you get to share something of their culture right from your armchair or office space. Teaching online is a great option as it is so flexible, and it's easy to set up as an online English teacher. You can enjoy free time and work when it suits you, and it’s a role you can carry forward into retirement, while still making an income. All you need is a laptop with a camera and a Global English TESOL qualification.


Uptake of new digital skills

The third reason, according to our survey, was the most interesting of all. It was really surprising that many people we spoke to said they felt they lacked the digital skills necessary for teaching, as the  TESOL industry will follow much more of a hybrid model than before.

So, we've been interested to see many already qualified English language teachers coming back to Global English to develop their skill set.

The TESOL Re-equip course has been an excellent starting point for many. They are learning to develop new ideas and come to understand things that they weren’t trained for in their traditional CELTA or Trinity courses originally. Areas like online English teaching, assessment for learning, ethics in the classroom, bias in teaching, the use of AI, and inclusion in TESOL are all subjects mature learners don’t find in other online or class-based courses.


Where next for mature Teachers coming into TESOL?

It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues post-COVID. But for now, mature teachers are streaming into the industry, bringing with them a wealth of experience from other sectors, which is incredibly valued by, employers and learners alike.


Interested in finding out more?

Check out these personal stories from Global English graduates, who are working all over the world with a Global English qualification.

Kerry Edwards in Spain

Maggie Asquith in France

Erika Csigi in the Netherlands

Mike Konig in Japan

Anju Charanjith in Oman

Alan Hood in Saudi Arabia

Gail Canhoto working online from Portugal


Global English offers an accessible, flexible and value for a money entry point into the profession. Check out our accredited TESOL courses here >>

Coming back to TESOL to re-equip? Check out the Re-equip course here >>


  • Author: William
  • Date: 12/05/2022

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