There are pros and cons whatever career you go into, and becoming a TEFL teacher is no different. What with being thousands of miles away from friends and family, unusual cuisines playing havoc with your digestive system, sweating it out in a new climate as well as dealing with culture shock – living and teaching abroad might not necessarily seem like a great option. However, for many teachers, the benefits of working abroad far outweigh the negative factors, and in this article, we’ll take a look at why TEFL teaching abroad is a career worth considering.
It’s Easy to Get a Job
If you aren’t picky about where you go or who you teach, you’re almost guaranteed to get a job. There are so many second language learners worldwide that you’re bound to find employment, even if you: don’t have a degree, don’t have a TEFL qualification, don’t have teaching experience, aren’t a native speaker or aren’t young. Of course, the better qualified you are, the more job opportunities there are available to you, but there really is a position for everyone. If your home country has a floundering job market and long-term unemployment is a serious problem, teaching abroad is an option well worth considering.
To kickstart your job search, check out our Featured Jobs.
The Travel Bug
Whether you like the idea of a few years abroad before you settle down or think of yourself more as a life-long backpacker, the travel bug is something that bites many TEFL teachers before they’ve even moved abroad – after all, why would you be considering this career if you didn’t hunger after new experiences? Some teachers find a place that they really love – they get stuck into the culture, learn the language, and maybe even settle down with a local. Other TEFL teachers like to move from place to place, seeing new things and grabbing new experiences at every opportunity. The important thing to remember is that a TEFL career will never tie you down – you can take it with you wherever you go, even if you decide to move back home.
Build a Bright Future
Many TEFL nay-sayers will try to put you off taking a teaching contract abroad, saying that the local job market will move on without you and you won’t be employable when you come back. Honestly? It’s nonsense. These days, having lived and travelled abroad is often a plus point on your resume rather than a negative – it shows you have the courage to try something tough, and the perseverance to stick it out. It shows that you’re adaptable, that you adjust well and are up for a challenge. Also, there have been numerous times when TEFL teachers have mentioned their experience abroad in interviews only for the interviewer to say ‘Oh really? I lived abroad too!’ Don’t worry that teaching abroad will stunt your future career choices – if anything, it will enhance them.
And then there this on how to keep your teaching career on the way up: How to Develop as a Teacher: The Basics
If you’ve had a dead-end job in your home country, slogging away for minimum wage, the salary of TEFL contracts abroad will definitely make it worth the challenge. Salaries vary greatly, often depending on your qualifications and experience as well as the country you’re in. But even at the lower end of the scale, you can make a decent living. For top salaries, check out the Gulf Arab States such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have some of the highest TEFL wages in the world. Other places to consider are those with salaries that seem fairly average, but when you take into consideration the low cost of living, you end up saving a bundle. Places like this include China, South Korea and Japan – as long as you aren’t living it up in a capital city, it’s possible to save as much as half your pay packet while still living like a king. Also look out for added extras – TEFL contracts that include a furnished apartment, school lunch, reimbursed flight costs and other bonuses that make it all the more worthwhile.
Compare TEFL salaries for countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East on this World Comparison Chart by the International TEFL Academy.
If you haven’t taught before, controlling a classroom full of energetic kids may seem like an impossible task. However, no-one was born a perfect teacher, and every day is a learning curve. Some people move abroad and discover that, actually, teaching really isn’t for them in the long run. But there are also those who really find themselves in this role, and achieve much that they can be proud of. Older generations often respond in shock and awe when you tell them that you’ve lived and worked abroad – something that many people can’t even imagine doing. It’s a brilliant opportunity, particularly when you’re young, and will earn you some memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
Teaching English abroad isn’t for everyone, and it’s one of those things that’s difficult to find out until you’re actually out there and doing it. There are plenty of down points to living and working abroad, but for the teachers who can put up with some inconveniences, the plus points make it all worthwhile. There’s a lot to consider when choosing where to go – what home conveniences can you absolutely not do without, what climate will push you to breaking point, how much money do you need to earn – but if you do your homework and set out for a destination that’s perfect for you, it will be a career move you’ll never look back on.