If you have discussed teaching English abroad with friends and family, it is likely that you have heard remarks such as ?that sounds like fun, but what will you do when you get back?? Unfortunately, teaching English as a foreign/second language is seen by some as not really a ?proper job?, just something that young people do for a bit of adventure before settling down to a real job. Although many ESL teachers do only teach in the short term and some are only in it for fun, there are many others who take it seriously and go on to enjoy a long and lucrative career as an English language teacher.
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YES, you can certainly choose to make a long-term career out of teaching English. Most people?s TESOL journey begins with the idea of seeing a bit of the world while earning some money in the classroom. For some, this idea can change when they realize that teaching is something that they enjoy doing and they are actually quite good at it. If this happens to you, why not continue on the journey and turn it into something more long-term?
For any long-term ESL career, a TESOL certification is a must. While it is still possible to find teaching jobs in some countries without any formal qualifications, the best positions that pay a good salary are always likely to be beyond your reach if you don?t have any teaching credentials on your CV/resume. With a TESOL certificate you will be able to gain valuable classroom experience in a good job before you consider taking the next step up the career ladder which will generally require a higher level qualification such as a TESOL Diploma or a teaching related degree.
One common scenario is for a teacher to set off with the intention of working overseas for a year, only to find they fall in love with the lifestyle and choose to carry on in the job year after year. In contrast, many teachers decide that they want to look at other areas of the teaching profession that perhaps offer greater responsibility, a higher salary, or simply a change from everyday teaching in the classroom. Other possibilities to consider include teacher training, writing teaching materials, or various management type roles in schools or language centers.
Although money is not necessarily the main issue for most teachers, it is certainly possible to earn a very good living as a TESOL qualified teacher. The top region for earning big money is the Middle East where large tax free salaries are on offer in countries such as the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. There are also some great options for earning good money in Asian countries. China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan all have a well developed market for foreign teachers and the pay is often very high. However, it is worth pointing out that in most cases you will need a university degree and often some previous experience to secure the best paid positions.
The top jobs in the Middle East and Asia often come with a range of extra benefits that further increase your income and possible saving prospects. Accommodation is generally the biggest expense for teachers overseas, but if you can land a job in one of these areas you are likely to have free housing thrown in. You might also find you have your airfare paid for and other expenses such as health insurance taken care of.
Another common benefit of being a teacher is the amount of paid annual leave you are entitled to. Most teachers enjoy two or three times the vacation that is standard in many other jobs. What you do with it is entirely up to you, although many people take the opportunity to return home to visit friends and family or use it to further explore their new part of the world.
Most of the skills needed are learned during your initial TEFL course, by taking higher level teaching qualifications and by general experience in the classroom. Possibly the most important skills involve written and spoken communication. A large part of a teachers day involves talking in front of the class, so it is obviously important to be confident in this area, as well as informative and approachable. Listening skills are also vital as part of teaching is knowing when to take a step back and let the students do the talking.
Also vital, is the manner in which you communicate the subject of the lesson. Considering that your class will be populated with non-native English speakers, it is necessary to use simple sentences and clear instructions to avoid confusion and embarrassment in the classroom. Difficult words that the student's are unfamiliar with should obviously be avoided, and using a slow clear voice will help to get your information across. One other important thing to always be aware of is cultural sensitivity. Each country has a different culture that often includes taboo subjects that are best left out of the classroom. By being clear on these you can avoid making any slip ups.