Motivations and goals for anything we do for work, or pleasure, anything really is as individual as each one of us. English Second Language Teaching can satisfy a whole host of personal intentions which satisfy our goals and, in the experience, create something in which we can find motivation for a life well lived.
English is referred to as the lingua franca, or the common language spoken by people with different first languages. English is the common language of air traffic controllers around the world. It is also the common language in scientific research and on the other end of the spectrum, it is also the most common language in the fashion industry. The most common language in any major business, technology for one, is English. English, though not the most widely spoken language, is the most common language globally; and this is only increasing as education and business become more and more global every day.
So, with the world wide web the world has indeed gotten smaller and closer and more accessible. We are experiencing connections across oceans in university classrooms with the use of web conferencing tools, and likewise in business. Imagine if we didn't have a single common language to communicate. The thought evokes the mythical story of the building of the tower of Babble and separation and confusion caused by differing languages. The dilemma is solved by a common language, barriers broken, bridges built and people enjoying the exchange with and company of each other. As our communities broaden into global communities with the use of technology, the need for a common language is even more real and needed than previously; brilliant minds are connecting around the world to collaborate, university classrooms are connecting to broaden learning opportunities, all of this is made easier with the use of a common language - English.
Where does it all begin, this acquiring and learning English? First, it's interesting to know that the most common English language influence is that of British English which is due to the historical impact of colonization. Just take a look at a map of British English vs. American English; it's interesting.
The image is amazing when you think about the native languages spoken in these countries and the impact of English as a common language. Not meaning to get off on a linguistics discussion, but rather just to answer the question: ‘Is ESL teaching still a good job option?'. The simple answer is a resounding, ‘Yes!'
English Second Language (ESL) or English Foreign Language (EFL) teaching is in demand around the world. The business of teaching English is alive and well, and actually huge! In southeast Asia the demand for teachers is high; opportunities and need for teachers is increasing. There are private language schools, government sponsored language schools, and opportunities in the public schools as well, in fact opportunities for teachers seems optimal right now.
Historically the common demographic of teachers in this field has historically been the new university graduate, in their early 20's, seeking something different in the form of a gap year as they discover the meaning in their life and their next step in education or employment. This is changing as 30 somethings are experiencing epiphanies and questioning life choices, and equally mid-lifers in their 40's and 50's are teaching English around the world. In short, the ages and people teaching English is as diverse as the reasons people choose to teach. Limitations regarding age are country specific with some countries having guidelines for minimum and maximum ages for ESL teachers. Whether your motivation is altruistically to make the world a better place, or perhaps to travel and see the world, or even just as an alternative due to changes in employment, teaching English may be the answer for you. Age is not a limiting factor really, there are some educational requires such as a TEFL and a university degree.
With all this said, perhaps you owe it to yourself to explore the option of becoming a teacher of English somewhere else in the world, away from your home country. In any case, in spite of age and previous life experience, becoming an ESL teacher will irreversibly change the life of the people that you meet and teach… mostly this choice will broaden your mind and open your heart in ways you can hardly imagine!