A few weeks ago, I wrote about why my husband and I chose to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) in Turkey at the age of 29. I written in several posts the many personal, professional and financial reasons teaching English abroad was the best life and career choice for me. But what about you? How will TEFL impact your career?
Well, teaching English abroad can impact your career in so many ways. It’s actually impossible to count! Some people with little or no previous work experience gain practical experience in a professional (business) environment, which helps them in their future job searches. Mid-career professionals, like me, may use it as an opportunity to launch their own business or, like my husband, use the time to plan for a career change. By reflecting on what you want to get out of your experience, you can choose how TEFL will impact your career. Thinking about the possible benefits in terms of The 4 Pillars of #ProfDevAbroad, teaching English can impact your career by allowing you to:
- develop specialized knowledge of the country (i.e., language, culture, politics, etc.);
- gain practical experience working in a multicultural environment, working with children/adults, management/leadership, etc.;
- develop skills, whether hard skills (i.e., public speaking, negotiation skills, accounting, etc.) or soft skills (i.e., teaching, intercultural communication, etc.); and
- grow your network by specializing in business English, meeting professionals in your field while living abroad, etc.
Depending on your field/industry, you may think that teaching English abroad may not be well respected. While I can see how this can be true for those who use TEFL as a financially sustainable way to take a career break, I have seen many examples of people who have used their TEFL experience to market themselves into global careers (myself included). With top-notch job materials and a clear professional brand, you won’t have any problems landing a job no matter what the industry!
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before you pack your bags, it is critical to understand why teaching abroad is right for you. Some questions we considered before enrolling in a certification course were:
- Why do I want to teach abroad?
- Is teaching abroad adding to my life or helping me run away from something?
- How can I maximize my experience abroad? (Hint: The answer is #ProfDevAbroad!)
- Do I want to teach adults or children?
- How much money do I need to earn to live comfortably?
Some other questions to consider would be things like the local culture/customs, what type of work package (i.e., vacation days, benefits, work hours, etc.) you must have in order to sign the contract, etc.
If you think you’re ready to take the next step and talk to certification companies, I’d highly recommend the provide we used, International TEFL Academy (ITA). I’ve sung their praises before, but I’ll say it again. The information provided on their website, coupled with their excellent staff, makes them the best choice for anyone who is confused, anxious or just excited! (Trust me, I asked just under 938,234,209,820,394 questions and each one was responded to with a helpful answer from a very patient and upbeat person!). Some other reasons I chose ITA were:
- the ability to read hundreds of alumni articles about their experiences teaching all over the world (including information about employers, finances, social life, visas, etc.);
- the plethora of information available about salary expectations vs. cost of living around the world;
- lifetime job search assistance; and
- simply because they were the most responsive provider of the 5 I contacted (yes, I was THAT thorough in my search for best TEFL certification program).
No matter what your reasons for teaching English abroad, make sure you consider your rationales for taking the leap and then, enjoy the experience. I know I sure did.
If you want more help navigating this process, or simply want to talk to a real person about your questions, contact me for a TEFL consultation.