Anyone who is thinking about teaching English abroad has most likely received a response along the lines of "Oh, how fun, but what will you do when you get back?" Some people believe that teaching English as a foreign language is not a "real job" but rather something that people do to pay off student debt or simply for fun before settling down into a "normal" job and lifestyle. Many people decide to teach English abroad for these reasons, but there are also many who have made a successful and lucrative career out of it.
Is it possible to make a long-term career out of teaching English as a foreign language?
Yes, you can pursue a long-term career as an EFL teacher. For the vast majority of people who travel abroad to teach English, it all begins with a simple desire to see some of the world while earning some money. After a while, many people realize that they enjoy and are actually quite good at teaching, so why not continue improving the skills and knowledge required to make it something more long-term?
What qualifications do I need to pursue a career in TEFL?
A TEFL certification is required if you plan to teach in another country for an extended period of time. While jobs can be found without any qualifications in some countries, the higher-paying jobs with the best benefits and working conditions won't be accessible without any teaching credentials on your CV/resume. Once you have a TEFL or TESOL certificate and have established yourself in the classroom, adding a higher level qualification to your portfolio, such as a TESOL Diploma or even a teaching-related degree, will generally make the next step up the career ladder more realistic.
What skills will I need to pursue a career in TEFL?
Many of the necessary skills can be learned during your initial TEFL course, through classroom experience, or by pursuing higher-level teaching qualifications. Written and spoken communication is one of the most important skills. Because a large part of teaching entails speaking in front of a class, it is critical that you are a confident speaker who can be both informative and approachable. You must also be a good listener and understand when to step back and let the students speak for themselves.
Another crucial skill is how you communicate the subject of the lesson. Because your students are non-native English speakers, you must use simple sentences and clear instructions to avoid unnecessary classroom confusion. To ensure you get your message across avoid using difficult words that they haven't yet learned, and always speak slowly and clearly. Cultural sensitivity is also something to keep in mind. It is critical to avoid contentious topics and to respect local customs and culture.
What other TEFL-related jobs are there in the long run?
Many thousands of people around the world set out to teach for a year but fall in love with the lifestyle so much that they continue to teach in the classroom year after year. However, some teachers discover that they want to explore other opportunities in the teaching profession that offer more responsibility, a higher salary, or simply a change from the classroom. A successful career may include teacher training, writing teaching materials, educational consulting, or various management positions in schools or language centers.
What are the advantages of a long-term TEFL career?
While many teachers do not teach for money, it is true that you can earn a very good living by teaching English abroad. The Middle East is the hottest destination for teaching salaries, with employers in countries such as the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia paying very large, tax-free salaries! China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are also excellent places to earn top dollar in Asia. However, in order to qualify for positions in these countries you will typically need a university degree, as well as a year or two of classroom experience.
Many of the higher-paying jobs in these areas also come with additional benefits that can significantly increase your income and saving power. Housing is frequently the most expensive outlay for teachers abroad, but if you have the qualifications and experience required to land jobs in the most popular teaching regions, you will often get free housing included in your contract. Other typical TEFL job benefits include airfare in and out of the country, health insurance, signing-on and end-of-contract bonuses, and transportation subsidies.
Another well-known advantage of teaching is the amount of annual leave you receive as standard. While your friends back home may be able to take up to four weeks off per year, most teachers will have two or three times as much paid time off. Some teachers travel to see family and friends, while others explore the surrounding area. There are no limits to where you can go or what you can experience with the amount of time you have and the money you should save during term time.