- Education and Science
Is Teaching ESL Abroad Right for You?
Some questions to ask yourself before you decide to Teach English Overseas
Welcome to this site dedicated to helping you decide if Teaching ESL Abroad is a good fit for you.
Making the decision to Teach English in another country is a difficult one that should be made wisely. It can be the adventure of a lifetime and a year filled with new discoveries, friends, language learning and growth. Or, if you're not suited to life overseas, it can be a year filled with stress, chaos and difficulties. On this site, you'll find a few basic questions to ask yourself when deciding to Teach English. Answer them truthfully, and you'll be well on your way to making a good decision about teaching English abroad. Good luck on your journey!
Are you willing to adapt to a new culture?
One of the certainties about teaching ESL Abroad is that the culture will be very different from the one that you're familiar with. Your normal ways of being, living, and doing will have to change and you can either struggle and then adapt, or struggle but never adapt to your adopted culture. It's the people in the latter group that don't finish out their year-long contract, or they do and perhaps even decide to keep teaching ESL Abroad but they are never happy and you can often find them drinking way more than they should in seedy bars, complaining to anyone who will listen about how terrible Country "xxxx" is.
A general rule of thumb is that if you need to have a certain brand of product "x," are a picky-eater, think people from other countries are stupid and uncivilized and only stay in 5-star hotels when traveling overseas, then teaching ESL Abroad may not be for you. On the other hand, if you are adventurous, flexible, and open-minded, then a job Teaching ESL might be perfect for you.
Are you relatively free of commitments at home?
People that move abroad to Teach English, but have significant commitments and responsibilities back home often end up not doing that well in their adopted country. For example, leaving your spouse or young children to teach ESL Abroad is not the best idea, nor is uprooting them and bringing them with you. Perhaps you'll have to wait until your children are in university before you make your big move. Or, having a very sick close family member will likely leave you not too happy about living life in your new country and wishing you were back home instead.
Or, maybe you have lots of "things" and you're not willing to sell them before you go. Things like houses, cars, furniture, electronics, etc, will have to be stored and looked after somewhere. Unless you have a family member who is happy to do this for you, then teaching ESL Abroad may not be for you. And part of the fun of Teaching ESL Abroad is living out of a suitcase and making it work. A love of things and teaching ESL are generally not compatible.
Do you like being around people?
One of the things that's easy to overlook when considering your big move abroad to Teach ESL is the actual Teaching part of it! You'll be spending up to 10 hours everyday, at work, interacting with people. Even on your breaks, you'll probably be surrounded by lots of other people in a shared teacher's room. So, if you don't like being around people, talking to them, having conversations and getting to know them, Teaching ESL Abroad won't be a good fit.
The same thing applies for what age you want to teach. If you don't like little children, don't think that teaching Kindergarten-aged kids would be a good thing.
Do you have a basic knowledge of English Grammar and Spelling?
I see people all the time on the language teaching forums who have terrible grammar and spelling. If you're one of those people, you'll have a hard time teaching ESL, especially middle-high school students and adults. These groups expect a professional teacher who knows their way around English grammar. If you struggle with it, you may not be the best ESL teacher.
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Are you a Creative Person?
Being a good English as a Second Language Teacher requires a lot of creativity. You have to constantly be thinking of new ways to help your students understand the material and stay interested in your classes.
Plus, living in another culture requires creative thinking as well. Small things like going to the grocery store, figuring out transportation systems or making an appointment require a lot of effort, especially if you don't speak the language. You'll always be trying to find ways to get things done and you'll find that almost nothing is easy! If you like a challenge and are a person who can think of multiple ways to solve problems, then Teaching ESL Abroad is for you!
Do you want to teach in a South Korean Uni?
Do you have a goal beyond "a fun year?"
The people that seem to do best Teaching ESL Abroad are the ones with some sort of future goal that they are working towards. When the honeymoon phase of culture shock is over, it's these people that can stick to it, and not just pack up and go home.
Some examples of future goals include: experience in teaching, saving money for grad school, studying for the LSAT, learning a new language, saving money to invest in the stock market, or becoming a scuba diving instructor.
If your only goal when teaching ESL overseas is "fun" you'll usually be sorely disappointed. Teaching ESL is an actual job, not just a paid vacation and as with any job, there are ups and downs. By having some future goal, you can get past the downs and appreciate your experience for what it is.
Do you teach English as a Second Language?
Do you have lots of foreign friends?
If you have lots of foreign friends at home, this is a good indication that teaching ESL abroad might be right for you. Do you go out of your way to befriend the new foreign student, or help out those who are new to your home country? Perfect! You probably have the right frame of mind to live overseas, teaching ESL.