When the travel bug bites it tends to bite hard. Unfortunately, travelling the world, or even small sections of it, is quite expensive. Even if you come from a country with a strong currency, it’s difficult to stretch your savings to several months of pure adventure. This gave rise to the working holiday, where youngsters (and the not so young) take short-term semi-menial jobs so that they can save up for the next leg of their trip. But rather than slaving over restaurant dishes, sweating in construction sites and smiling grimly at restaurant patrons, many people opt to take up teaching; specifically TEFL) Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Teaching English Courses
English is increasingly recognised as the global business language, which means that countries in which English is not the first language are clamouring for English teachers. In some cases, they aren’t too picky about the qualifications of these teachers, in which case you can get away with a relatively basic TEFL course. But as more TEFL teachers enter the market, countries have become pickier and some now only consider people who have more formal qualifications, such as CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
CELTA courses are more in-depth than TEFL courses, although they cover similar topics. They are also more tightly regulated, as only Cambridge University registered and accredited course providers may teach CELTA courses. As an added advantage, CELTA courses have international recognition.
A basic outline of CELTA and TEFL courses includes:
- Language skills
- Teaching skills
- Lesson planning
- Setting tests
- Creating learning materials
- Navigating learning environments
Where Can I teach?
The answer is pretty much anywhere.
The most popular destinations for TEFL teachers include Korea, China, Czech Republic, Italy and Brazil (Kelly Lalonde, matadornetwork.com).
But you can also ply your trade in Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, Italy, Chile, Malaysia and Cyprus.
Benefits of Teaching Abroad
The most obvious is the flexibility to travel. You don’t have to stay in one job for a particularly lengthy period of time – it depends on the contract. If you are bound to one country for six months to a year, you get to experience the culture on a much deeper and more personal level. After all, you need at least a year to see all that Thailand has to offer.
You grow as a person as you experience new cultures. Your mind broadens, your perception of people widens, you gain greater appreciation for all walks of life, you make lots of friends, you learn new languages and you learn skills that will stand you in good stead no matter what you decide to do with your life. Skills like patience, tolerance, resilience, determination and self-confidence. You also learn self-reliance as you usually don’t have anyone else to help you solve your problems.
There Are Some Disadvantages
- You won’t earn as much as a fully qualified teacher.
- Depending on the country and on the school, you might have to teach on weekends – Saturdays at least.
- Loneliness is always going to be a factor. You’ll eventually get over missing your family and friends back home, but if you move around a lot you’ll have to get over missing all the friends you make in each community that you’ve lived in.
How Do I Get Teaching Jobs?
You can just arrive in a country and search the classifieds or look online. But there is always the danger than you’ll end up in a dodgy school that exploits inexperienced foreign teachers.
It’s usually best to use an agency, at least for your first couple of jobs. Agencies will help you with things like work visas, accommodation and contracts. But, you need to choose your agency carefully, because there are also those out there looking to fleece inexperienced travellers.
Many people find that they enjoy teaching English so much that they make it a lifelong career, completely indulging their travel bug and, occasionally, applying their skills at home.
This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of Now Learning, an education portal in Australia that promotes online education courses, including English for Specific Purposes (TESOL) and diplomas for teachers’ aides.