Everyone knows TEFL’s a fantastic way to get paid to see the world, but there are also lots of lesser know (but no less fantastic) benefits of teaching abroad – read on to find out what some of them are…
1. It’s easy to get up and go
Deciding you want to teach abroad for a year or two doesn’t mean years at university or thousands of pounds. As there’s such huge demand for certified English teachers all around the world at the minute, all you need is a TEFL course (which can be done in as little as one weekend), a one-way plane ticket and a spot of enthusiasm.
2. You’ll take weekend trips to a whole new level
If your average weekend involves a trip to the local shopping centre/mall and watching a spot of TV, teaching abroad will certainly take that up a notch. When you’re living and working in another country, you’ll find it pretty irresistible to explore – depending on where you are that could be lazing on the beach, visiting nearby cities or even doing a spot of trekking. What’s more, the cost of travel in most TEFL destinations is super-cheap, so you won’t find yourself blowing all your wages on bus tickets.
3. TEFL-travellers are a very friendly bunch
Want to know where in Japan is best to teach, or the best site to look for TEFL jobs in Thailand? Ask a TEFL-traveller. You’ll usually find a good network of other teachers ready to dispense advice in whichever city you’re teaching in, or if you’re in the back and beyond, TEFL networks such as Chalkboard (www.tefl-chalkboard.com) are full of people willing to help out a fellow teacher.
4. It’s a crash course in handling cultural difference
At one point or another you’re going to look around and think ‘what the heck is going on here – nothing makes sense!’
This kind of culture shock is totally normal and getting over it will make you more open-minded, understanding and willing to try new things… and if your students start asking awkward questions about your personal life, just smile and dodge the question.
5. You’ll have an instant support network
Unless you’re a lone teacher giving English lessons to goats in Azerbaijan, odds on there will be local teachers working at your school, many of whom will speak good English. Because they’ll be keen on practising their English with you, you’ll find they’ll be keen to show you around, take you out and help you in case any problems crop up – better than a guidebook any day!
6. It’s good resume/CV fodder
Even if it’s not your lifetime ambition to become a teacher, you’ll find that there’s plenty to put on your CV about your time as an EFL teacher: leadership, communication and organisational skills, not to mention to ability to successfully work with people who might not speak your language and have totally different cultural values.
7. You’ll see beyond the tourist track
Forget travelling off the beaten track, this is living off the beaten track. If you really want to lift the lid on another culture, teaching abroad is the perfect way to do it. As a teacher, you’ll usually find yourself welcomed into people’s lives and homes – much better than taking snapshots of temples and monuments by a country mile!