Teaching English abroad can be both an exciting and daunting prospect at the same time.
If you’ve never lived or worked abroad before, then teaching English to foreign students has the potential to truly open your eyes and allow for life-changing experiences.
Depending on how much you put into it, choosing to teach abroad can further your career in the field of education, or simply bolster your CV and equip you with skills that can serve you in other lines of work.
Whether teaching English abroad is the right move for you depends on a number of factors, most of which we’ll explore in this article.
The fact that you’re considering a teaching post abroad in the first place suggests that you could stand to gain a lot from the experience.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at why it could be a great option for you.
Expand Your Career Options
First, I think it’s important to discuss the potential career paths that teaching English abroad could lead to since this is typically a big motivator when looking for work in the first place.
Jobs in Education
Teaching English can lead to many exciting opportunities in the field of education, as you might imagine. Whether your dream is to work as a foreign language English teacher in your favorite country or to train as a language teacher back home, you’ll definitely benefit from a short stint abroad.
Working in another country will provide you with a great insight into the life of a teacher in that country, and give you an opportunity to figure out whether teaching is a career you’d like to pursue.
Doing a TEFL course will allow you to work anywhere from China to Mexico, and everywhere in between, allowing you the freedom to explore an entirely new culture and work in a different education system.
I would argue that teaching English abroad is a good transition from study into teaching, as it prepares you for the difficulties of the career well. Not only might you have to get used to operating under a different set of rules in a foreign land, but you will also likely deal with children or adults that behave differently in class.
This will give you valuable tools to apply to a future career in teaching while broadening your perspective on how teaching can adapt to different learning styles, which is crucial with language development.
Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cultivate a fair deal of patience teaching English abroad. When you are dealing with a class full of students who might not even be able to form a basic sentence, let alone converse with you, you’ll realize the need for patience and will find your own methods to push through.
While a career in education might be the first thing that comes to mind when considering the value of teaching English abroad, the increased employability you can gain from the experience shouldn’t be overlooked.
For a start, in an increasingly global market, you will stand out for your bold move to start afresh in a new country unfamiliar to you, and contribute a valuable service there.
Going abroad to teach often implies that while there you will take the opportunity to pick up a new language, or boost your existing language skills, which can be a huge boost to any CV or resume.
International business isn’t just conducted in English, so any other language you can add to your repertoire will set you apart from the crowd.
You’re also much more likely to tick that ‘communication skills’ box on an employer’s checklist if you have shown that you can work with people from different cultures, language barrier and all.
The third reason you might consider teaching English abroad in light of future career prospects is further study.
Teaching English abroad will give you an edge over other graduate school applicants, since you will be able to claim real-world experience, in a way that not many people will.
Proving that you have the ability to work and thrive in a country other than your own shows a great amount of determination and problem-solving ability, the likes of which come in handy for sticking it out with a tough graduate study program.
Besides, many graduate schools will actually ask that you have prior experience working and pushing yourself, so what better way to demonstrate that than by talking about your experience teaching abroad?
As cliché as it may be, by choosing to teach English abroad you can change your life.
Well, first and foremost because the pressure of packing up your life and moving abroad – even if only for a short period of time – will force you to grow and adapt.
Moving to a new country will present a whole host of new social settings and people for you to interact with. This is a great opportunity to work on both social and language-related skills.
Working at a school is a surefire way to accelerate your integration into a community since most teachers will be curious to get to know you, and in most cases welcome you with open arms!
On top of that, you will find yourself having to re-build your social life while away from your friends back at home, which can actually be a lot of fun.
If you see it like going to university for the first time, when every new experience is exciting, and every person you meet has the potential to be a great friend, then you will quickly build a social circle for yourself and feel more confident than ever before.
You might even find that making friendships is more rewarding in your new home since it might require that you converse with people in a second language. This will be challenging at times, and frustrating, but if you persevere the reward will be great.
The knowledge that by learning a language you can converse with literally millions more people is a staggering thought, and one worth holding onto as you study the language.
Thinking about it?
Then you should do it!
If you think you’ll regret not having such an experience later on in life, then teaching English abroad should be a no-brainer.
During my 4 years teaching English abroad I’ve had many people close to me reach out to ask about the experience or tell me how they wish they could do the same. I’ve even known people to leave a teaching abroad program only to wish they didn’t soon after arriving home.
The point I’m trying to make is, if you get excited at the thought of teaching English abroad, then I highly recommend you give it a go, for the experience if nothing else.
Even if you’re aren’t sure you want to pursue a career in Education, a year abroad can be an amazing experience, which will make you more attractive to future employers, and with any luck, help you grow as a person too.
For every other element of teaching English abroad, including how to acquire the TEFL certificate, be sure to visit the TEFL Org website for more information on how to proceed.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.