Erica Fairchild

Are you a fresh University grad, in your gap year, or just fed up with working the office job with the same day to day schedule? Looking for a career or even a career change? There are loads of jobs out that that allow you to experience new things, but the mother of all jobs is being an English teacher overseas. Being an English teacher abroad allows you to travel the globe AND make money at the same time! However, not just anyone can be an English teacher. There are requirements, and you need to consider if you are suited to living in a different culture.

1. What Requirements Do You Need To Meet?

Well, that all depends on the country you choose. Some countries are more lax than others on that front. Take a look into the Visa requirements for the countries you are looking at to get the nitty gritty details. But the basics are:

  • Be a Native English Speaker. That is a no brainer. If you are teaching a language, you should be fluent in it.

  • Have A College Degree. This is where some countries are more lax. But the higher paying ones, especially China, will require that you have a Bachelor's. It can be any subject, they just want to be sure that educated people are educating the youth.

  • Acquire a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA. These are all different teaching certifications. Do your research into which one you are more suited for because they are all different, though they will all allow you to teach English. You can take the classes online or in-person. A lot of higher paying jobs will require the in-person certificate because that one requires actual classroom experience to obtain. I would suggest you pony up and pay the tiny bit of extra money to do this because it will make a HUGE difference in the long-run.

2. Decide if you actually WANT the life of a teacher

Being a teacher is NOT for everyone. You need to have a genuine love for kids and the interest in helping them grow and develop. If you are in it for money, then you will not be happy. Kids can be a lot of work. And teaching ESL takes a wild amount of patience. These kids will not understand much of what you say. It is a lot of repetition and requires a lot of energy. So think about that before you make a decision. If you do not like kids, FEAR NOT, because you can teach university or high school students. There are loads of jobs for this niche. There is a job for all personalities, but you need to be sure that teaching is something you can handle.

Outside of teaching there is also lesson planning, marking, and parents. The amount of stress these extra things put on you will be completely dependent on where you work. Some places have the lessons and curriculum planned for you. Others make you do it during office hours and pay you for it. Some places make you meet with parents and others don't. Chances are, if you are on salary you will have to create your lesson plans and do your marking. If you are paid hourly, then you will probably only be expected to show up and teach from a book. More money means more work. Do your research when looking for jobs and ask your recruiter/school. It is not just the teaching that wears teachers out. These details will literally make or break your teaching experience.

3. Actually living abroad

Travel is the reason most people decide to teach English overseas. It allows for the flexibility to hop around different countries for as long as you want and move back home when you are ready. Each country will offer a different experience as far as living goes. Some countries speak better English than others. Some have big expat communities. Some countries have nothing and will have you squatting over a hole in the ground when you have to use the bathroom. Decide what you want out of your travels and go from there. The best place to start is Asia.

Most big cities will offer the comforts of home, especially in Asia. Cities like Shanghai, Bali, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, and Tokyo have everything you could possibly want from home. They also have decent expat communities where you can find comfort. But no matter where you go, you need to understand that you are in someone else's country. Many people will not speak English. They will have different customs and traditions that you find odd. Embrace it and adapt to it. Yes, you might have to do everything with your right hand because the left hand is dirty. Yes, you might have to learn to use chopsticks. Yes, you are probably going to eat intestines at some point. But that is beauty of living and travel. It is about the experience, the sights, the food, and mingling with the locals.

No matter what you decide for your teaching career, the experience you have will be what you make of it. If you go in with positivity and an open mind to culture, then your experience will reflect that. There is so much to do, see, and eat in this world. So go! Take the leap and move abroad to work as an English language teacher. You will thank yourself for it later. And hey, if you don't like it, there is nothing stopping you from moving back home and getting on with your life. So take the plunge and go on an unforgettable adventure!

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