Teaching Engish abroad has much to recommend it. TEFL is virtually unique in providing an accessible and flexible opportunity for virtually all educational levels on a global scale. It has appeal to so many different age groups and is truly portable. But, new learners do need to look beyond the hype of companies eager to take your money for their course and focus a little on the reality of what it is like to live and work in a foreign country. Let’s bust some myths!
- Teaching English as a Foreign Language will not make you rich financially but it can make you rich in other ways such as life skills and life experience. Jobs can be poorly or moderately paid, some are well paid but these are usually only available to very experienced teachers with an impressive CV. It’s not all bad news – many jobs come with flights and accommodation included and because generally, you will only be working part-time, you can do other things to supplement your income if you need to. Each location is different with a different package and inclusions and varying costs of living
- Try not to stick with the expat community, it might seem secure and reassuring at first but it will limit your engagement with the culture and peoples of your chosen nation and insulate you from the full experience
- Always keep the bigger picture in view. If you are a student or gapper or discontent middle-aged sabbaticaler then use your new location as a springboard into other ideas. If you are interested in journalism or environmental issues, utilise your spare time to get involved in projects and schemes which will give you a unique insight and knowledge into fields of expertise that you may well use later on when you return to the UK. There are plenty of UK companies who seek real experience and knowledge of certain places and this may create commercial opportunities when you return to the UK
- Your job contract may be sold to you on the strict proviso that you must commit for 6 months or 12 months but do read the small print. These posts are usually sold on this basis because they are for teaching roles and no organisation wants the hassle and difficulty of recruiting another English teacher mid-term if you leave. If you check out your contract, you should find that a month’s notice is standard so you can parachute out if you really hate it. Take care to note whether if you do cancel your post, you become liable for costs which have been pre-paid for you by the employer such as flights
- If the job is not as advertised or you just don’t like it, it is much easier to find a similar style replacement once you are living and working in a country
Always remember that what you are doing is truly unique and although at times it may seem overwhelming and less than perfect, just try and savour every individual moment of your TEFL time.