“I really enjoy teaching ESL, but I feel I need a change of scenery. A friend suggested I look into teaching abroad, but I’m not sure I want to be far away from my family and friends for a whole year. What would I stand to gain from the experience? What do you believe are the main benefits of teaching ESL abroad?” *
ESL teachers have been placed in a unique position. The world we live in is becoming increasingly globalized and with this globalization comes the need to speak a common tongue. Although it is not the most widely spoken language in the world, English is the language of choice in international business. Which is why schools in even the remotest corners of the world are placing greater emphasis on English learning. Some are in dire need of teachers with TEFL certification. But why should you pack up and leave the life you know behind? Here are some reasons why you might want to consider teaching abroad.
Consider These 7 Benefits of Teaching ESL Abroad
Foreign Language Acquisition
If you want to brush up on the Spanish you learned in high school, moving to a Spanish-speaking country will certainly do the trick. Whether you choose to go to Japan, France or Argentina, when you teach English abroad, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign language, and the learning is limitless. From colloquialisms to common slang, there are things you can only learn by living and breathing the language 24/7.
Heightened Cultural Awareness
There are people who live their entire lives without setting foot outside their own country. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep our eyes focused on what’s going on at home and not see what’s happening elsewhere. Spending time in another country with a completely different culture will help you become a well-rounded individual, the kind of person who not only knows the facts about what’s going on in a particular region but also understands how its people feel about it. When you travel, it’s easy to learn about foreign traditions and customs. But when you live in a foreign country, your understanding goes deeper than that.
Useful International Experience
If you are interested in a career in diplomacy, foreign affairs or international business, this is exactly the kind of experience that will open many doors. It will not just “look good in your resume”, it will prove to potential employers that you have the ability to live and work abroad, and that you are also able to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds.
No matter where you choose to teach, it will be a great home base from which to explore other places and cultures. Move to Argentina, for example, and you’ll have the chance to explore landscapes that are as radically different as the deserts in the north and the glaciers in the south of the country. It’s also a lot easier to visit neighboring countries like Chile, Uruguay or Brazil. The same happens if you’re based in a European or Asian country. The cost of local transportation and shorter distances provide very affordable travel options. Just think of the natural wonders and historic sights you’ll see!
A Bigger Network
You’ll meet lots of people in your new home and in your travels, both locals and fellow expats. They will provide you with a wealth of information, from leads on potential jobs elsewhere to travel tips. You may even make lasting friendships that you’ll cherish for years to come.
Making a Difference
Whether you are teaching children or adults, you’ll be providing your students with communication tools that could potentially secure a better future for them and their families. In some regions, English speaking skills are essential to better jobs and bigger opportunities. You’ll meet students with dreams and goals. And you’ll be helping them reach those goals.
We all reach a moment in our lives when we must leave our parents’ home, become independent and learn to take care of ourselves. But imagine having to do that in a foreign country where you speak very little of the language. Naturally, you won’t be completely on your own because you’ll be with other teachers, and you’ll have the support of your school. But there are plenty of things you’ll have to learn to manage by yourself and in a culture you may barely understand. It may be a humbling experience. You may even have a few culture shocks along the way. But if you successfully overcome the obstacles you face, you’ll become a stronger person.
Ready to get started?
You’ll come across countless teacher recruitment agencies on the web. Before choosing one, make sure you do your research and try to get as many teacher testimonials as you can. Check out this testimonials page offered by Reach to Teach. Affiliation with a major organization or university is also a good indicator. Teach Away, for example, has partnered with the University of Toronto to offer job assistance to those who complete their TEFL online certification course.
For any ESL teacher looking to teach abroad, an adventure awaits.
Sometimes opportunities come knocking on our doors. Sometimes we must go out and seek them. Spend just one year teaching abroad, and you’ll return a changed person.
* This question was sent in from a real ESL teacher, just like you! If you need any advice on a particular topic, share your question in the comments below. Or tweet your question to @busyteacher_org with the hashtag #ESLTeachersAsk. Your question might get picked and featured in an article!