Erica Fairchild

So, you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Alright then, you've come to the right place. I'm a seasoned ESL teacher and recruiter with over 20 years experience in the ESL industry. I've taught English all over the world and have experienced my fair share of ups and downs from heart-racing earthquakes mid-class to heart-warming bear hugs at the end of a course. It's time to confess a few things that ESL teachers don't tell you about. Keep reading to discover the realities of teaching English abroad and the reality checks that keep it all in perspective.

Reality #1: Your first month will suck

Yep it's true, I'm not going to lie, the first month living and working in any new country is a huge transition and can feel overwhelming. You'll have to find somewhere to live, open a bank account, sort out your phone, master a new curriculum, get to know your colleagues and students, work out how to navigate your new city and depending on where you've decided to have your adventure, perhaps you'll need to learn a whole new language to top it all off.

Reality Check: Strange as it sounds, this is one of the reasons ESL teachers move from country to country and do what they do. The adrenalin you feel from dropping yourself in a foreign land where everything around you is alien and then slowly finding your feet and becoming the master of your brand new life is exhilarating (and addictive!). There is no better way to test your metal and prove to yourself what you're really made of. If it's your first ESL job abroad and you need a bit of help, no problem. Today you can find ESL schools that support you every step of the way helping you with your initial transition and taking most of the burden off your shoulders.

Reality #2: You won't be sitting on a beach by lunchtime

I hate to break it to you but teaching English abroad is a real job. If you're imagining catching a few waves in between classes, you'll be sorely mistaken. You will have set work hours, you will have lessons to plan and students' work to mark. You will teach lessons when your students want them – in the afternoon and evenings, on the weekends and over the summer holidays. You will get asked some tough grammar questions so you have to know your stuff. Teaching English abroad isn't a walk in the park; you will work hard.

Reality Check: Yes, you will work hard I'm not denying it, but you'll also play hard too. Your mornings will be filled with a quick gym session and then maybe a language exchange over coffee before heading into school. Your evenings will be filled with impromptu karaoke nights with colleagues, your weekly expat football league or a quick bite to eat at a local food stall before heading to the latest club. Your weekends will be filled with endless day trips to nearby cities or even a quick jaunt to a neighbouring country. When you teach English abroad you'll be busy in, and out of the classroom but that's exactly the way we like it.

Reality #3: You will miss a big family milestone

There's no sugar coating this one, you will miss at least one major family event back home whilst you're teaching English abroad. It may be your Grandma's 70th or your cousin's wedding or your little sister's graduation. Whatever it is, you'll need to accept that life at home will continue without you and you won't be able to return home for every single family shindig. And while I'm on a roll, let's throw in Christmas, you will miss a Christmas or two and that's just the way it is.

Reality Check: Yes you'll miss out on a few things back home but the experiences you'll have overseas will more than make up for it. And trust me, by the time you get home your family will have forgotten all about it, they'll be too busy checking out your photos. And Christmas? Don't sweat it. I've had some of the best Christmases I've ever had living abroad. Picture a tiny Asian living room, 20 expat friends, colleagues and random locals all crowded round with wonky party hats on hoeing into our makeshift Christmas dinner of roast turkey (miracle we found one in China!), frozen pizza, steamed fish, our neighbour's famous pork dumplings, some random sushi and mountains of 7-Eleven donuts. Best Christmas ever!

So there you have it, there's no big dark secret. The reality of teaching English abroad is that some days will be good, some will be even better and others may not be so crash hot but either way you'll have a good story to tell. Take the leap today and find out for yourself!

If you would like to find out more then why not apply and speak to me or one of Education First's international recruitment specialists today.


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