5 Reasons You Definitely Can’t Teach English Abroad

May 8, 2015


You’re reading this article, so you’ve obviously been giving some thought to the idea of teaching English abroad. It would be exciting to really live in a foreign country for a year or so, wouldn’t it? As a teacher, you wouldn’t just be a tourist; you could meet the local people, learn a foreign language and do some traveling you’ve always dreamed of. It would be an amazing experience…  if only it were possible. Sure, other people can do it, but not you–  you don’t have the time, the money or the right background teach English abroad.

Does that sound familiar? Well I’m here to change your mindset. Teaching English abroad is a very attainable goal. I’ve done it myself, and while I was teaching in countries around the world,  I met teachers from all walks of life who had also made it happen. Some had money and some didn’t; some had a degree or teaching experience and some didn’t; some were old and some were young. So what’s your excuse?

1. I can’t afford to live overseas!

As common as this excuse is, it’s pure fiction. The world is full of exciting teaching locations, and English teachers in all of them make salaries that at least cover living expenses there, making it very possible. I know what you’re thinking, but what about paying for your TEFL course, or your airfare to get to the country? Well, online TEFL courses are pretty affordable, starting at around $250, and that certification can lead to jobs in high-paid regions like Asia!  What’s more, sometimes schools abroad will even foot the bill for your TEFL certificate, your airfare, or your both! Yes, it’s possible (click here to find out where).

2. I don’t fit the profile– I’m not the 20-something traveler-type.

The “profile” of an average TEFL teacher is changing. Sure, plenty of TEFLers are still in their twenties, but there is also a growing segment of English teachers abroad who are not. This group is made up of people in their thirties and forties looking for a change in career, as well as retired people who would rather have an adventure abroad than spend their golden years golfing. Wes Choc is a good example of this new kind of teacher. He got TEFL certified the year after he retired and headed off to teach in Ecuador: TEFL Through the Eyes of a Late Bloomer.

3. I wouldn’t know were to start.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) isn’t complicated, but it might be unfamiliar to you. This is a good place to start: TEFL Step by Step. That will give you an overview of the process involved in teaching abroad, breaking it down into manageable steps. It also includes links to other pages and sites, where you can find out what is required to teach in different countries, for example, or learn about vacancies for TEFL jobs around the world.

If you’d like to avoid the legwork altogether, you can also choose to take part in a fully arranged program, rather than just a TEFL course. Teach Abroad Programs are a more supportive option for new teachers, since TEFL certification, job placement and other features are included in one easy package.

4. I don’t speak a foreign language.

Think of all the fabulous teaching locations in the world, such as China, Thailand, Brazil or Turkey. These countries have an extremely high demand for native English speaking teachers, TEFL qualified teachers like you. Now imagine if they only hired teachers who spoke Chinese, Thai, Portuguese or Turkish. They’d have a hard time filling positions! The truth is, you don’t need to speak a word of the language in a country to effectively teach English. Your students will be at a level advanced enough that they can benefit from your 100% English immersive classroom.

5. I have no idea how to teach English.

The majority of people teaching English abroad have no background in education all– that is the very reason they take a TEFL course! TEFL courses are made for people of various backgrounds, who may have never taught anything before. TEFL training, therefore, starts with the basics (like a brief history of English), and moves into more practical skills (think grammar review and learning how to write lesson plans). If you take your TEFL course in the classroom, you’ll even get some hands-on practice teaching under your belt, too! Sure, there will still be a bit of a learning curve when you get into your own English classroom, but that’s a part of any new job. Don’t let this, of all fears, stop you!

Are you ready to stop making excuses and make your dream of teaching abroad into reality? Contacting a TEFL advisor by phone or email is a great first step!

These are just a few of the myths about teaching abroad. The truth is, all you need is an open mind and a strong work ethic. Here are a few more myths that shouldn’t deter you.