The Best and Worst Things about Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TEFL teacher teaching student

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a great career option no matter what your age, nationality or background. If you can speak English at an advanced level and are TEFL-qualified you can teach English. Not surprisingly, more and more people are deciding to get qualified and either teach abroad or teach online. If you’re considering a career change or are looking for a way to escape your usual 9 to 5 and if you’re thinking about teaching English as a Foreign Language, then let us help you decide if it’s the perfect job for you.

Here are the five best things about teaching English as a Foreign Language.

The freedom

Teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad gives you the opportunity to visit places you’ve always wanted to see and live the life you’ve always wanted to live. It doesn’t matter if you want to live on a beach in Bali or in the big city in Japan, you can go wherever you want to with a TEFL career. And if you decide you want to move on to somewhere else after a while, then you can do that too!

The money

Not only that but teaching English abroad or online can earn you a good salary. Some teaching packages provide flights and accommodation, both of which are usually huge expenses. In some countries, you can earn a tax-free salary. Or if you live in a country with a low cost of living, you might still be able to live comfortably off your salary and save money. Of course, in some countries, you can earn enough to live very well and save tons of cash.

Read more: Teaching In-Class or Online: Which Pays More?

The experiences

Teaching English is a job like no other. No matter if you are teaching abroad or online, you will meet people from all over the world – with different cultures, backgrounds and personalities. This makes your lessons very interesting and it also presents you with a set of challenges you won’t get in other jobs, which will help you grow and develop not only as a teacher but as a person too. Plus if you are living abroad then it goes without saying that you will live a life you never could have imagined, every single day.

group of friends having fun

The friends

You might not realise this but you might find yourself teaching English to adults. As a result, you could find friends in your students! While it is not recommended that you become too close to your students while you are their teacher, it often happens that teachers and their students find their relationships last long after their teacher-student relationship has ended. Besides students, you will probably find yourself making friends with other staff members at your school, as well as other TEFL teachers you meet.

Read more: To Be (Friends) or Not To Be (Friends)? That is the Question

The intellectual challenges

The one thing teaching English as a Foreign Language will most certainly do is teach you more about your own language. Even if you speak English fluently, if you haven’t taught the language you probably still have a lot to learn about it. Teaching English will help you learn the ins and outs of English naturally. There is a good chance you’ll learn a foreign language too, which is a valuable skill to have.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Well, while all of these things are totally true, there are of course downsides to TEFL, and it would amiss of us not to mention them. After all, this is a career change and it might even involve packing up your life and moving to a new country, so you need to be sure of your dedication before you start packing your bags.

So here are the five worst things about teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Leaving home

Living abroad might sound like the absolute dream to you, but truth be told it can get lonely at times. Always being the foreigner in a place, with all the attention that entails, can be exhausting. Not being able to speak the language and communicate for even basic everyday things is frustrating. And there is no doubt that you will miss your friends and family back home.

Read more: Culture Shock

Man feeling lonely away from home

The red tape

Every country you want to teach in will have certain boxes you will need to tick in order to qualify for a working visa. Finding out what those requirements are is one thing, proving you satisfy them can be another thing entirely. Dealing with visas and governments costs money and can be quite daunting. Usually, your employer should help you with all the legal stuff, but it has been known to result in a few sleepless nights.

The discrimination

Oh if only we lived in a perfect world where we are all equal! Discrimination in the TEFL world is alive and kicking on a number of different levels. Certain Asian countries are known to prefer white TEFL teachers. Many employers prefer native English-speaking teachers. (South Africans, regardless of race, can have a hard time proving they speak English as a first language.) Some countries won’t grant you a working visa if you’re over a certain age. Then, outside the classroom, foreigners, similar to tourists, are often taken advantage of when it comes to prices and rental or business agreements. Sad, but true.

The students

Yes, they can be your best friends, but putting a bunch of people in a room together for an hour requires endless amounts of patience and classroom management skills to make sure your classroom doesn’t resemble a zoo. With Young Learners and teens, you have the added stress of dealing with adolescence or young emotions. Even adults can be a handful if they are having a bad day. So not every day is going to be a walk in the park.

The job

Teaching English is a dream job but it’s also hard work. There’s planning to think about, and homework and marking. Plus, if you teach the same grade or level of English then you might end up teaching the same lesson five times, which is hardly exciting. Then there are staff meetings and professional development. Teaching is not just about the end-of-year gifts and school holidays.

So now you know. We definitely think teaching English as a Foreign Language is what dreams are made of, but we also know that it’s not for everyone. Doing a TEFL course, finding a job abroad and changing your life is a big deal. Make sure you know both the positives and the negatives before embarking on this journey, but if you think you can handle the five worst things about teaching English, then you’re probably ready to give us a call so we can get you started on that journey!

The post The Best and Worst Things about Teaching English as a Foreign Language appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.

I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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