Would you quit your job to teach TEFL (teaching English) abroad in your 30s? My Experience...
This is something I did! I can't say that I never looked back during the initial stages, but I can say that it changed my life for the better. It is not recommended for everyone and can certainly go wrong. Making the decision to leave and to teach EFL in your 30s is actually the hardest part about making the move. However, if you are determined and don't think age should stop you from making a change, then life really can get a lot better (or at the very least, a lot more interesting). People get set in their ways, but making a change can give you a whole new outlook.
I was working in management, but things had reached a stale grind. My job was OK, it was well paid and life was pretty easy. I had a nice car, good friends and an active social life. The problem was that I was still bored! This was when I originally decided to travel. I quit my job of seven years and went out to see the world. Traveling opened my eyes to what the world had to offer and all the extreme possibilities that were waiting. But, as all trips must, it eventually came to an end as funds diminished.
This was when I returned home and started to work again. I thought I would feel more settle, but the problem now was that all the experiences of traveling had changed my perspective on life. Once again stuck at a desk, I felt fidgety and like life was passing me by as the rain tapped on the windows and the dull ticking of the big clock rumbled in my ears. I knew I needed to change things on a more permanent basis! I just wasn't sure how.
Strangely, fate set in and the buyer of an old bike I had advertised told me all about his experience teaching TEFL in China. I was surprised that this sounded so easy, almost too good to be true, but thought 'what the hell'. This was when I decided to take a TEFL course and go to teach English as a foreign language overseas. I picked one of the countries I had passed, purposely picking somewhere cheap to live in and booked the ticket. This gave me the deadline I needed to get myself moving. I had 6 months to pack up my life, save some money and go make a new life in a completely foreign country. The TEFL certificate was actually interesting to study, more so than I expected, as I actually learned a lot about the English language that wasn't covered in normal school English classes, along with many techniques for teaching English to students that may not understand ANY English.
As 6 months came to an end, I had a 100 hour certificate in TESOL (TEFL) and about 4000USD (at the time, about 2000GBP). I had sold my car, my furniture and most of my belongings, just keeping some 'memories' with family for the future. All my credit card debts were clear and I was ready to go. However, the flight only allowed 27kgs in total (including carry on luggage), so this forced me to be very choosy about what I took and what had to be sacrificed.
When the day of the flight arrived, it was a bitter-exciting time. It was so strange to say goodbye to friends and family, having no job and no idea what was going to happen during the coming year. However, this 'not knowing' also had me feeling more alive than ever!!
As the plane touched down, we all jostled towards the exit. Hot air bellowed into the air-conditioned compartment and when I felt the sun on my face, I somehow knew this was going to be an interesting year! Outside the airport, many friendly taxi drivers were keen to whisk me away to a nearby hotel. For the first time in my life I was free and relatively rich. I paid for a hotel room for one month (which only cost about 400USD). This was so that I had a secure base and also because I knew only too well that if I didn't land a TEFL job by then, I would start to run into financial difficulties quickly after.
I needed to meet people, so made a point to be sociable and get out as much as possible, as the local community is key to settling in a new country. This strategy is actually what saved me, as locals and ex-pats were only too happy to help out. They pointed me in the direction of schools, websites for recruiting and even gave me advice on the local culture and what not to do in interviews. This was invaluable and to my surprise, after only two weeks I had three job offers.
It turned out that schools like people to be in the country already, as they can be more certain that interviewees will actually turn up for the job (apparently many like the idea, but then cancel at the last minute). So, my maddened rush to teach TEFL abroad paid off. The following year had plenty of ups and downs, some of which I mentioned in a previous hub "How much for that dream life?", but overall my life is now far more interesting and fun than it had ever been before. I plan to continue teaching English,, as it actually turned out to be more rewarding (and challenging) than any other jobs I have experienced.
So if you are tempted, take a look at what is on offer, often the packages are VERY rewarding and are combined with some great job satisfaction.
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- Photo Scavenger/Treasure Hunts for Teaching English with EFL Students
Teaching English (TEFL) can be a real challenge. There are however fun activities that any teacher can use without much preparation. Treasure hunts can really make a normal class an adventure ... read how here!