Teaching English abroad or TEFL as it is often referred to, has become a popular way to travel, work abroad or take a gap year.
This has been helped by an ever increasing demand from those in all parts of the world to learn English. The biggest growth in TEFL jobs in recent years has occurred in China, but you can find English teaching jobs in just about every country in the world.
Before you start packing your backpack and reaching for your passport in order to claim your position it might be worth asking yourself a few questions in order to decide if it’s really for you:
Do you enjoy working with children?
Almost all TEFL jobs involve some time spent teaching children, particularly those positions offered in Asia. If managing cheeky kids or motivating troublesome teenagers fills you with dread then perhaps this isn’t the position for you!
Could you cope as the only Westerner in an alien culture/work environment?
Many English teaching positions are in schools with no other Westerners, with a work ethic very different to what you might be used to. You will have to adapt. Also many schools are located in small towns or villages where you might be the only Westerner for miles. Not only could this feel quite isolating but you will also stand out like a sore thumb and likely be an object of unwanted curiosity.
Do you enjoy English and the English language?
This is a question often overlooked by those who decide they want to teach English abroad. Just because English is your native tongue does not automatically mean you will be good at teaching it. If it’s not a subject you were particularly good at at school do you think it’s fair on your students to be subjecting them to your lack of passion and interest in the subject?
Could you stand to be away from your friends and family for long periods?
Most overseas teaching contracts overseas are usually a minimum of 1 year in duration. If that position is 1000s of miles from your home country you are unlikely to be making any trips back during that time. Added to the stress of culture shock could you cope not being around your loved ones for this length of time?
Are you prepared to put your other career aspirations on hold?
Teaching English abroad is rarely a stepping stone into other lucrative careers. Going overseas for any length of time will put back your career plans at home and could be seen as a negative if what you really want to get into in the future is in a totally unrelated field.
Author Bio: Jon Duckett is a former TEFL teacher who has worked in Japan, Spain and London. He is now a director and chief content editor at TEFL jobs and advice site http://www.happycatstefl.com