For anyone considering teaching English abroad, you may have encountered responses like, "That sounds exciting, but what will you do when you return?" Some people may view teaching English as a foreign language as a "stopgap job," something people undertake to pay off student loans or just as a fun experience before settling into a "regular" job and lifestyle. While some do venture into teaching English abroad for these reasons, many others have forged prosperous and rewarding careers from it.
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Yes, ESL teaching can pave the way for a long-lasting career. Many English teachers begin their journey abroad fueled by a simple desire to explore the world while earning an income. Over time, many discover a passion and knack for teaching that spurs them on to enhance their skills and knowledge for a more long-term career path.
Also read: Are there any age limits for TESOL teaching?
A TESOL certification is vital if you are contemplating teaching in a foreign country for an extended period. Although you might secure jobs without qualifications in some regions, the most lucrative positions with superior benefits and working conditions typically require teaching credentials. Upon obtaining a TESOL certificate and gaining classroom experience, you may consider further qualifications like a TESOL Diploma or a teaching-oriented degree to advance your career.
Several essential skills can be acquired through your initial TESOL course, hands-on classroom experience, or through higher-level teaching qualifications. Effective written and verbal communication is a key skill. Given that teaching involves addressing a class, being a confident speaker who can be both informative and approachable is crucial. Being a good listener and knowing when to let students articulate their thoughts is also essential.
Another important skill is effectively conveying the lesson's topic. Given that your students are non-native English speakers, you need to employ simple sentences and clear instructions to prevent classroom confusion. Speaking slowly and clearly, and avoiding complex words unfamiliar to your students, can enhance comprehension. Also, being culturally sensitive is crucial - refraining from contentious topics and respecting local customs and culture is vital.
Many individuals initially plan to teach for a year but end up enjoying the lifestyle so much that they extend their teaching careers. However, some may wish to explore other avenues within the teaching profession that offer more responsibility, a higher income, or a shift from the classroom setting. Career growth can lead to roles in teacher training, writing teaching resources, educational consulting, or management roles in schools or language centers.
Also read: What can I do after teaching English abroad?
While many don't embark on a teaching career for monetary reasons, it is true that teaching English abroad can provide a substantial income. Regions like the Middle East are particularly lucrative, with countries such as the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia offering sizable, tax-free salaries. Asia also offers high earning potential, especially in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, to qualify for these positions, you typically need a university degree and a couple of years of classroom experience.
High-paying positions often come with added perks that can boost your income and savings. Accommodation, which is usually the most significant expense for teachers abroad, is often provided for free in your contract for these positions. Other typical TESOL job benefits include airfare, health insurance, signing-on and end-of-contract bonuses, and transportation allowances.
Another considerable advantage of teaching is the generous annual leave provided. While those working in other professions may get up to a month off per year, many teachers receive two to three times as much paid leave. This time can be used to visit family and friends or explore the local region.
Also read: Do TESOL Certificates Expire?