Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a career that is open to anyone with an excellent standard of written and spoken English, regardless of age, nationality, or academic history. All you need, apart from a solid understanding of the language, is a TEFL or TESOL certification and the drive to make your dreams come true. However, despite all the many benefits that await teachers heading overseas, there are also a few potential issues that you need to prepare for. So what are the main pros and cons of TEFL?
Once you have completed your TEFL certification course you will be able to apply for teaching jobs in virtually any country you can think of. If you dream of living and working by a tropical beach, or if a major world city such as Tokyo, Milan, or Rio is your preference, no problem, you will have the freedom to choose exactly where you want to live and work. And if you change your mind later on, you can simply pack up and move onto the next amazing destination.
Although teaching English abroad is very much about the freedom to choose your own lifestyle, it can also be a very lucrative career choice. Employers in some countries offer very high salaries that allow you to save a considerable sum of money every month. Many jobs also include extra benefits such as free accommodation, paid airfares, and cash bonuses. You might even get a job in a tax-free environment which will add even more money to the pot. Wherever you find yourself teaching English you should earn enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and have enough left over to enjoy your new surroundings to the fullest.
Wherever in the world you choose as a teaching destination you are guaranteed to have some incredible experiences that will stay with you for life. Through teaching you will meet a wide variety of people from all over the world, both inside and outside of the classroom. Your day to day job will also present a number of different challenges that will help you to grow as both an individual and as a teacher. Outside of work, living in a new and unfamiliar country will present incredible opportunities and adventures on a daily basis. Life will never be mundane teaching English as a foreign language!
Teaching English abroad provides a great opportunity to make new, lifelong friends. In most cases you will work alongside other foreign teachers from across the world, as well as local teachers and other staff. Working closely alongside other people whose goals are the same as yours will often generate close friendships that will help you to settle in and really find your feet. By hanging out with local people and the expat community you are sure to find a wide circle of friends that will help to make your time overseas something you will never forget.
These are just a few of the many benefits you are likely to enjoy while teaching English abroad, but what about the downsides?
Despite all the positives about making new friends in a new job, leaving your home, family and friends behind can be difficult, particularly when moving to an unfamiliar environment where you probably don’t speak the language. You should be prepared to feel a little lonely in your first few weeks away as it can take time to settle into a new work and life routine. Just remember that within a few weeks you should start to pick up the local language, make new friends and start to enjoy all the benefits of living a whole new life overseas.
Moving overseas and starting a new job inevitably comes with a lot of paperwork and box ticking that can be quite daunting and exhausting. Applying for entry visas and work permits typically involves dealing with immigration departments that often love nothing better than filling out countless forms and seemingly making everything much more complicated than it really needs to be. However, many employers will offer to take care of the legal stuff for you, or at least lend you a hand to ensure it doesn’t become too big of a problem.
Unfortunately, there is a chance you will encounter some level of discrimination during your TEFL adventure. White teachers often get priority in some Asian countries, non-native English speakers can sometimes be overlooked, more mature teachers might struggle to get a work permit, and living in a foreign country can sometimes make you a target for unscrupulous landlords. Just remember that getting through these challenges is what makes us strong and resilient and able to move on to the next challenge without losing faith in our own abilities.
Teaching English abroad can be a dream job for many people, but don’t think that it will be an easy ride. Teaching in a classroom every day can be tough and you will need to have plenty of patience and excellent classroom management skills to keep everything in order. You will also be expected to plan your lessons, set homework, mark papers, and pitch in with a wide range of other duties. Dealing with emotional teenagers, primary kids with endless energy, or exhausted adults studying after work can all be stressful, particularly if your own day isn’t going so well either.
Despite all these potential downsides, do not be put off as teaching English abroad offers so many amazing opportunities that almost always outweigh any issues you might face. After a few short weeks of settling in and finding your feet, you should find your new life is everything you hoped for and so much more!