Have you asked yourself the question, “Should I teach English abroad?” Or, “Is teaching English in a Foreign country worth it? If yes, then keep on reading for all the details you need to know about teaching English abroad, including the pros and cons of doing so.
Why Teach English Abroad?
Should I teach ESL abroad? That’s a difficult question to answer but we’ll do our best to give you some solid advice and recommendations. Here are some of the reasons why you might consider it. Find out if teaching English abroad is worth it. Technically, teaching English in another country is known as EFL as opposed to ESL (English as a foreign language vs. second language).
Experience Local Culture
There’s no better way to really immerse yourself in another culture than to live in that country for a period of time. Most English teaching contracts are for 1 year and during that time, you’ll learn a lot about the culture and your own as well.
Make Some Money
If you want to make a bit of money to fund grad school, pay off student loans or travel later, then teaching English abroad can be worth it. Some countries pay more than others and some include free accommodation but most teachers are able to save at least $500 USD a month.
If you’re looking for a well-paying ESL teaching job, head to Korea, Vietnam, Japan or the Middle East. Check out this list:
Learn Another Language
If you want to really learn a language, the best way to do this is to live in a place where it’s widely spoken. However, be warned! It does take work to learn a new language and the vast majority of people don’t pick it up by osmosis.
Keep in mind that some languages are most useful to learn than others. For example, you may want to consider China as mandarin is widely spoken around the world. This can make teaching abroad worth it, if you’re able to use your language skills to transition into a job back home.
Meet Lots of Interesting People
I spent 10 years teaching English in Korea and met so many amazing people, both locals and expats. This was the main reason I stayed as long as I did!
Build your Resume
Teaching abroad for a year or two can be a nice way to build a resume, particularly if you want to get some experience with teaching, working with kids, international travel, language skills, etc.
It can be a nice way to show soft skills such as communication, adaptability, etc.
Should you teach English abroad if you have a very specific degree such as engineering, nursing, etc. that can lead to a job easily in your home country? It may not be worth it in these situations and it’s certainly a better option for someone who studied arts or humanities as their major.
Should I Teach English Abroad: When is it a Good Idea?
There are certain situations in which teaching English abroad might be worth it for you. Here are the common ones.
Just Finished College
Many teachers want a year or two of adventure after finishing their degree. Teaching abroad is the perfect way to do this, especially if you have some student loans to pay off and/or the job market isn’t great in your home country.
In many countries, it’s relatively easy to get a teaching job with a university degree with any major.
You Want to be an English Teacher
There are certainly some people who want to be ESL/EFL teachers and are aiming towards this for their career. Teaching abroad is a great option and many jobs teaching English back home would expect this on your resume.
You Need a Change of Pace
If you’re tired of what you’re doing but can’t afford to just quit and take a year or two off, consider teaching. It’s a nice way to make some money and have a kind of “reset.” Use the year to put away some cash and really think about what you want to do in the future.
Is Teaching English Abroad a Good Idea?
You may want to know whether or not teaching ESL abroad is a good idea for you? Here’s some advice to help you make a decision.
It’s a Real Job
One thing that lots of people forget is that teaching English in another country is a real job and not a paid vacation! It does require you to show up for work every day for a certain number of hours and 2 weeks of paid vacation is kind of the norm. This means a lot of time in the classroom!
Get a TEFL Certificate
If you’re going to teach, then I recommend getting a TEFL certificate of some kind (Find out more: CELTA vs TEFL). This will improve your job prospects, may get you a slight salary increase and also make you a better teacher. There’s really nothing to lose here. Check out our top recommendation:
Do you Like Kids?
Most people start out teaching ESL to kids. There are far more of these kinds of jobs than teaching adults and teaching university students usually requires some serious qualifications such as a related Master’s degree, along with years of experience.
Be honest with yourself. Do you like kids? If I’m honest, the year I spent teaching kindergarten kids was one of the worst years of my life. Teaching elementary school students was a much better fit for me, and I finally found my groove teaching university students and adults.
Are you Extroverted?
It is certainly possible to be an introverted teacher. I consider myself to be one of them. However, it can be tiring being around people all day, every day when talking to them is your job.
Be honest with yourself. Is this what will make you happy?
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Teach English Abroad
Now that you’ve heard the good stuff, there are a few reasons to not consider teaching ESL in another country. Here are a few of the most important ones.
You Have no Desire to be a Teacher
Some people are born teachers. Others fake it until they make it. And there are some who hate every single second of it. If you fall into the third category, teaching ESL abroad may not be the right fit for you.
You think It’ll Be Easy
Teaching isn’t easy. Neither is living in another country when you don’t speak the local language. Leaving your friends and family is tough. Culture shock is real.
All that to say, you will certainly experience some difficult times. Be prepared for this but if you’re the type who isn’t flexible or adaptable, moving to another country with two suitcases may not be the right fit.
You Don’t have a Dime to your Name
Although you can sometimes get a prepaid plane ticket, you will need money to get settled. Depending on when payday happens, you may also not get your first paycheck until you’ve been there for almost 2 months. It’s also prudent to have enough money to pay for a one-way ticket back home if things aren’t what you expect.
All that to say, I recommend most teachers have at least a couple of thousand dollars to their name! This will ensure a smooth transition and you won’t have to eat ramen noodles for every meal for a month, or even worst, beg from fellow teachers.
You Don’t Like Kids
Teaching kids is tiring, even for people who don’t like kids. If you don’t enjoy spending time with kids, don’t think that you’re going to love teaching them. You won’t. Teaching in a foreign country can be tough and even more so if you’re spending your days with an age group that you don’t really enjoy!
You Are Not Open-Minded and Flexible
Moving to another country requires a large degree of flexibility. Adaptation is necessary if you want to make it through your first year. If you’re the type who likes everything to be a certain way, then it may not be the job for you. Nothing will be your way, especially at first before you get yourself established.
If You Have Kids
Having your own kids but wanting to teach abroad can be tricky, especially if they are young. Consider the following:
- Who will look after them when you’re teaching?
- What about their education? International schools are very expensive.
- It’s likely that your kids won’t have the language skills to go to public schools.
- Most schools provide only studio apartments.
You are Worried About not Jumping the Hoops Back Home
One of the major pitfalls of teaching English abroad is that you’re not getting established back home in terms of career, kids, marriage, etc. While you’re teaching abroad, other people are finding jobs and getting promotions, buying houses, and building their social networks.
If you do plan on eventually returning home, I highly recommend doing this in your twenties or thirties and not later in life. People who return home in their forties or fifties after teaching ESL abroad often end up going back.
Should I Teach English Abroad? The Final Answer!
This is a difficult question to answer without knowing your individual circumstances. However, there are certainly some situations in which it works well. The most common teachers types fit into the following categories:
An Adventure out of Uni
The most common teacher type is someone just out of uni who wants to have an adventure abroad for a year or two and make a little bit of money along the way. Have some fun and see the world!
The Career Teacher Traveller
There are some people who hop from country to country for their entire lives. I completely understand this as the lifestyle does become a little bit addictive. It can work very well if you plan to retire in a foreign country.
Those With Serious TEFL Certifications
If you have an MA in a related field or something like the CELTA/DELTA, then it’s easy to make a career out of it. There are some great university jobs out there that have months of paid vacation and lucrative overtime opportunities. I experienced this teaching in Korean universities and found it hard to give up.
Someone with an Education Degree
If you have an education degree and are a qualified teacher in your home country, then you may consider teaching in International schools. These are excellent jobs with great benefits and many teachers teach in these kinds of schools for their entire careers.
Teaching in a Foreign Country FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about how to teach English in another country. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
How do I become an ESL teacher abroad?
There are many routes to becoming an ESL teacher abroad, but here’s some general advice:
- Do some research about jobs, countries, visa requirements, etc.
- Consider doing a TEFL course of some kind.
- Prepare your teaching resume and start applying for jobs.
- Do targeted research about schools that offer you a job.
- Choose a school eventually and then prepare to move!
Which country pays English teachers the most?
If you’re looking for well-paying English teacher jobs, then consider heading to the Middle East. Places like UAE, Saudi or Kuwait generally pay the best. You could also consider some university jobs in Vietnam, Korea, Japan, or other parts of Asia if you have the qualifications to get them.
What qualifications do you need to teach English abroad?
Most countries require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree to teach English abroad. As for other qualifications, you may be required to have some teaching experience and/or a TEFL certificate of some kind.
Which country is best to teach English?
This is a difficult question to answer and really depends on your individual preferences. Some countries to consider teaching English though are: Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Czech, Thailand and some countries in the Middle East like Saudi or UAE.
How can I teach English abroad without a TEFL?
The minimum qualification to teach English abroad is generally to be a native English speaker and have a BA degree. Many countries don’t require you to have a TEFL certification, although this can help you get better jobs.
Should I teach English overseas?
Teaching English overseas isn’t for everyone. However, it can be a great opportunity to explore another country, learn a new language and have an amazing year while getting paid. It does require a large degree of flexibility and keep in mind that teaching is a real job that will take up a significant amount of your time!
Have your Say about Is Teaching English Abroad Worth It?
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