Teaching English abroad has recently blown up and become a popular choice for both those young and old. Whether it be for a gap year, to help fund travels, or a step before retiring, teaching English abroad can be extremely beneficial to you. But before you decide to make the big step and invest in a TEFL certificate, there are a few questions to ask yourself before you teach English abroad.
1. Do you actually want to teach English abroad?
It seems like a silly question, but it’s the first question to ask yourself before you teach English abroad. Do you actually want to teach English, or do the number of blog posts you see, and friends of friends you hear about doing it influence your decision?
They probably do (as they did me), but it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea for you. Do you actually like teaching? Have you ever taught before? Sit yourself down and weigh out the pros and cons for you. Don’t go just because so many people recommend it.
2. Where do you want to teach?
Knowing where you want to teach could play a big factor when deciding what kind of teaching certificate you should get. The most popular area to teach in is SE Asia, where there is a huge number of tourists visiting each year, so it can be beneficial for locals to know English for communication.
In SE Asia you can teach off of some of the shortest programs, but most schools ask for at least 100 hours. Places like Europe may require some more training, depending on what kind of institution you would be teaching at, or if it’s just for one-on-one lessons.
3. How much effort are you willing to put into the job?
Again, a huge thing to ask yourself before you teach English abroad. A lot of people just assume that teaching is easy and doesn’t require much work because so many people do it.
Keep in mind that the majority of teaching jobs are full time and will require you to create lesson plans and attend school activities outside of your classroom teaching time. If you’re not willing to do this, then teaching is definitely not the job for you.
4. What kind of a can you make?
If you can only do two months then forget about it. To be quite honest, how much of a difference do you think you’re going to make in two months teaching? Especially for kids, having multiple teachers can be difficult for them and can throw them off. Make at least a year-long commitment so you can see some of your students grow, and be a bit more beneficial to them.
5. Why do you want to teach abroad?
A lot of people go to teach abroad for themselves (myself included), with the students coming in second. Not to say that this is everyone, as there are plenty of good natured people who do it to help students.
Some use it as a way to escape from lives and people back home, to fund travels, or as something to do before making the commitment to retire. There is nothing wrong with any of these choices, but really ask yourself why you want to teach abroad. The less selfish this answer is the more beneficial you will be to the students.
6. How tough are you?
I don’t mean tough in a fight, but how tough are you mentally? Teaching can be difficult and is a lot of hard work. Put that on top of moving to a new place, learning a new language (or not and risk many communication issues), dealing with a new culture, and with a completely different education system than what you’re used to. It’s tough.
And I’ll say it again, it’s not for everyone. Really do your research and find out what some of the difficulties you’ll have to deal with are. Home sickness is just one of them. It can be hard to find what some people really go through, so I wrote a completely honest post on my thoughts and why I chose to leave my teaching job. You can read it here.
7. What other subjects are you willing to teach?
This can be a bit of a surprise to others. Decide before you teach English abroad, and know what other subjects you’d be okay with teaching as well. It’s totally okay if you only want to teach English, as there are plenty of jobs available for strictly English teachers.
However, if you don’t mind teaching a couple of other subjects then you’ll have some other job opportunities. You can become a homeroom teacher, and have your own class. Plus it’ll be a bit more exciting than just teaching English!
8. Do you have patience?
Teachers need a ton of patience, it is an absolute necessity. Not everyone thinks of this though. Before you teach English abroad test yourself or ask others to test your patience. If you get irritated easily then teaching is probably not a good idea for you.
9. Are you able to fund this choice yourself?
Crowdfunding pages are popping up asking for others to donate so they can go teach English abroad. Personally I find this offensive to anyone who has worked hard to be able to do something like teaching abroad, and it’s just not the way to go about it. Understand that teaching English can take a bit of money to get started.
First you need your teaching certificate, then you need to get to wherever you’re going to teach, and then you’ll most likely need to support yourself for the first month (rent, food, electricity, water, internet, transportation) until you receive your first paycheque.
10. Do you think you’ll be a good teacher?
Most will answer yes to this question. But before you teach English abroad write down a list of good qualities you liked from your favourite teachers throughout school. Then a list of bad qualities about teachers you disliked.
Compare them with your own qualities and if you find yourself with more similar qualities to your favourite/good teachers then you may just be a great teacher yourself (though this is not always the case).
Are you ready to start teaching? Get your TEFL certificate here (I promise it’s the cheapest that I know of and great!).
Teaching English can be so beneficial to you, and your students, but understand that teaching is not for everyone. Understand that just because you’re teaching in a third world country doesn’t mean you’re doing much or any good. And lastly, realize that teaching is hard. Just because it’s a popular choice doesn’t make it easy.
Read more on teaching English abroad
- How to Get a Job Teaching Abroad: A Step by Step Guide
- How to Choose a TEFL Course: Which TEFL Course is Best for You?
- Why You Should Teach English Abroad
- Why You Shouldn’t Teach English Abroad
- 3 Ways Teaching English Abroad Changes You
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